April is a good time to make a start on outdoor DIY jobs. The weather can still be unpredictable, so it's not a good idea to start any big painting or construction jobs, but you should have enough nice weekends that you'll be able to get your home ready for the summer. The more you get done now, the more time you'll have to enjoy yourself during the (most likely brief) June heat wave.
Getting Your Hands Dirty
This month is a good time to do some of the more heavy-duty tasks such as cleaning your patio and hosing down your summer furniture, weeding the garden, cleaning your gutters, and fixing your garden fence if it suffered any damage during the winter.
If you're working on gutters or tall fences, put safety first. Always wear the appropriate safety equipment for the tools you're handling, and don't over-reach or take chances when you're working at the top of a ladder.
Easy Summer Gardens
If you want your garden to look great this summer, then you should start planting appropriate plants now. The best plants, for most gardens, are ones that are fairly low maintenance, and that bloom for a long time.
Good plants to invest in for your garden include:
- Hydrangea Macrophylla
- Hibiscus Syryacus
- Echinacea Purpurea
- Salvia X Sylvestris
Weed your garden carefully before you start planting, water the garden regularly, and take care to deadhead spent flowers on a regular basis, and you should have a garden that blooms nicely until late August.
Building a Summer Deck
Building a decking area is a good way to transform your garden into a relaxing, enjoyable place to spend summer evenings.
The key to putting together a nice deck is to plan carefully. Measure your garden and sketch out a design before you start work. You may want to mark out the area that the deck will cover in your garden to make sure that you'll like it once it's in place. Make sure that your deck won't cover any manholes, air bricks, or any other important areas.
Once you're sure you have the perfect layout, it's time to prepare the ground. Firstly, measure out the perimeter of the deck and mark it with pegs and rope or clothesline. Clear all of the ground of vegetation, and pat the soil down so that it's flat and firm. Lay the deck fabric over the cleared ground to prevent weeds growing under the deck.
Next, put down concrete paving slabs. Use a spirit level to ensure that the deck slants appropriately. For every metre of deck, there should be a 10mm drop, and the deck should slant away from the house.
Once the concrete slabs are in place, put a layer of bitumen BPC membrane over those slabs. Now you're ready to start laying the timbers. The outer framework should rest on top of the concrete slabs, and the joists should be fixed with rustproof screws and outdoor wood glue. If you've made any fresh cuts to the wood you're using to build the deck, treat those cuts with a timber preservative to make sure that the wood does not rot.
Once the framework is in place, you can start putting the outer boards in place. Be sure to pre-drill the screw holes before you place the boards; this will reduce the likelihood of the boards splitting when you drill them.
You can treat your deck boards with an oil that penetrates the wood and gives it a nice aged-look, or you can let the wood age naturally.
You should check your board for damage every year, repair any loose boards, and wash the deck to remove any moss or algae that is growing on it. After you wash the deck, apply another oil treatment to preserve the timbers.