Get ready for sunnier days, whether you have an hour or a weekend to spare.
The first official day of spring is March 20. So whether there’s still snow on the ground or flowers in bloom, you can rest assured that nicer weather is on its way. Usher in the new season with a bit of spring cleaning, some fresh flowers and — if you can get outdoors — a little dirt under your fingernails.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Make mirrors and table lamps shine. Use a duster or soft rags to remove dust from table lamps and wipe down mirrors with a damp microfiber cloth. These freshened-up surfaces will enhance the light throughout your space.
2. Refresh the entryway. As the weather thaws, begin putting away mittens and wool hats and make room for those mucky spring boots. Clean or replace the doormat, clear off the hooks (or hangers, if you have a coat closet) and be sure to put out an umbrella holder stocked for spring showers. A clean boot tray lined with river stones will help water drain away from your footwear.
3. Remove winter layers. Feeling a bit stifled under a pile of thick duvets? Swap out heavy winter bedding for lighter-weight quilts and coverlets. Also consider changing deep-pile rugs for flat-weave or natural-fiber versions for the warmer months.
4. Clean up patio furniture. Outdoor furniture can get really grimy over the winter, so be sure to give everything a good scrubbing before you start using it for the season. Launder washable outdoor cushion covers and replace worn-out pieces if needed.
5. Tune up lawn and garden tools. Sharp tools get the job done. Take your lawn mower and clippers in for a sharpening and tuneup before you begin work in your garden.
6. Clean slipcovers and soft furnishings. Smaller slipcovers and washable rugs can be laundered at home; drop off larger pieces with professionals. When laundering items at home, be sure to read the instructions carefully and err on the side of caution. Most items such as curtains and slipcovers can be put back while damp — for the best fit and to prevent wrinkles.
7. Dust high corners and baseboards. Using a vacuum attachment or the duster of your choice, remove dust and cobwebs from those high and low spots we often miss during routine cleaning.
8. Make a garden plan. There’s still time to get your garden growing! Sketch out a plan and jot down ideas for this year’s plantings, as well as any ideas you have for changes to the hardscape, such as putting in a new path or fence. Start some seeds indoors or pick up seedlings at your local nursery. Check botanical gardens for plant sales too, as these can be great places to find native plants that do especially well in your region.
9. Get ready for tax time. Tax-filing deadline isn’t until April 17 this year, but getting your ducks in a row this month will make things a lot less stressful. Sort through paperwork, update your files and gather all important documents in one place so you’re ready to go.
10. Simplify the table. Cupboards feeling overstuffed? Simplify your life by paring back on dishes and glassware, letting go of mismatched and chipped pieces and sets you no longer love or use often. Keep a basket of fresh cloth napkins within easy reach of the table to make it more convenient than grabbing paper napkins, and invest in a living centerpiece (potted succulents work well) that will stay fresh and green with little maintenance.
11. Spring-clean the kitchen. Give your kitchen a fresh start by cleaning some of the areas we often skip during quick daily tidying: Clean small appliances; wipe grease and grime from the range hood, backsplash and light fixtures; clean grout; and vacuum hard-to-reach places (like under the stove) using an attachment.
12. Streamline meal planning. Collect your favorite recipes in a binder (or online) and come up with several weeks’ worth of meal plans using your go-to favorites, plus shopping lists. When life gets busy, at least you’ll know what’s for dinner.
13. Treat yourself to spring blooms. Spring flowers such as daffodils are plentiful and inexpensive this month, so keep an eye out for bargains. And if you have blooms popping up in the garden, why not snip a few to enjoy indoors?
14. Plant a tree. Spring and fall are the best times to plant trees because wet weather and cooler temperatures make it easier for root systems to get established. Be sure to check with a nursery to determine which species will do best in your microclimate and to get detailed planting instructions. If your area has a late date of last frost, you may need to wait until all threat has passed before planting.
15. Inspect your home’s exterior for winter damage and make repairs as needed. Once winter storms have passed, carefully inspect the exterior of your home. If you had an ice dam on your roof during the winter, now is the time to repair any damage it caused. Ice dams form when the edges of a home’s roof are colder than the upper regions (where more insulation sits below the roof), causing ice to form around the eaves. The best way to prevent them is by upgrading insulation and ventilation in the attic.