As the snow melts, you are probably starting to think of all the fun outdoor activities you can do again like backyard barbecues, kids playing on the swing set and relaxing evenings on the back deck. However, winter storms can really do a number on your yard and property. Doing a spring cleanup can help fuel your enjoyment of the season ahead, as well as avoiding costly repairs down the road and reducing the risk of needing to file a claim on your homeowners insurance.
8 Spring Clean-up Tips for the Yard to Reduce Risk of Insurance Claims
1. Clean Up Debris
Winter storms can knock branches down into your yard, and windy weather can blow garbage and recycling all over your property. It’s unsightly, and also a tripping hazard. Clean it all up and give the lawn a light raking to get your yard ready for the warm sun to help that grass grow.
2. Inspect Fences
If you have a fence, you should do a walk around in the spring and look for loose boards, faulty latches, and other signs of wear and tear. This is especially important if you have a dog or small children using the yard – you wouldn’t want them to get hurt or escape!
3. Check Patios, Walkways, and Foundations
Snow, ice, salt, and sand can damage your patio, walkways, and driveway. This can be expensive to repair if you don’t keep up with it – and is a risk for injury if a guest trips. Fix any loose bricks or paving stones, and keep it in good repair to avoid a more costly fix down the road – or an expensive liability lawsuit.
Foundations can also be damaged by winter weather. Inspect yours yearly to stay on top of the exorbitant repair costs of a compromised foundation.
4. Check Your Swing Set and Play Equipment
Swing sets are a lot of fun for the kids to play on – but can cause devastating injuries if a swing gives loose or a ladder breaks. While your homeowners insurance typically provides liability protection for these types of injuries, the costs may exceed your coverage and you certainly don't want anyone severely injured. Avoid this risk and keep your children and their friends safe by doing a full inspection of your backyard play structure and any other equipment each spring. Look for loose boards, splinters, worn down swings, and any other safety risks. Don’t let anyone use the structure until everything is deemed safe.
5. Inspect and Repair Gutters
Gutters carry water away from your home. If they are broken or full of debris, you may find yourself with water damage inside your home, including mold growing inside your walls. These can cause health problems, and are very expensive to repair. Avoid this expense by inspecting your gutters each spring and cleaning them of all leaves and other debris.
6. Check the Roof
Just like with gutters, if water gets in your home through a loose shingle, you could be facing huge repair bills and have to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company. You should check for any loose shingles or other damage done to your roof. If your roof is higher than you feel comfortable, hire a professional or use a camera-equipped drone to get a look up at the peak.
7. Look for Pests
Pests, such as termites, can do extensive damage to your home. Look around the foundation of your home, under furniture, and near standing water for any signs of an infestation. Getting ahead of the pest problem before it grows is key to avoiding major damage down the road, especially since damage caused by animals, insects or rodents is typically excluded from homeowners insurance coverage.
8. Prune Trees
You hear about it every year – trees or their limbs falling onto a home or yard, causing extensive amounts of damage, injuries, and even death. Each year, take the time to inspect your trees for dead branches or signs of tree death. Pruning can help maintain the health of your trees and avoid the damages and liability of a tree falling.
Your backyard should be your very own paradise, where your family can safely play and enjoy the outdoors. By doing a spring clean-up each year, you can keep your yard and property in good condition now, so you don’t have to make claims against your homeowners insurance later.
The illustrations, instructions and principles contained in the material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards or regulations. Please refer to the appropriate code, standard, regulation or policy making authority for interpretation or clarification.