Now is the time to get your home and yard ready for the warmer months. Focus on these 3 areas with the simple upgrades listed below, and reduce power bills, increase curb appeal, and make your outdoor spaces comfort zones for your entire family.

1. Stain Your Fence 

Important Because: Over time, the sun breaks down the lignin that bonds wood fibers, which can let water penetrate and cause graying on the surface. The solution is a semitransparent stain fortified with UV blockers. It can stop damage and provide a beautiful warm tone at the same time. 

How To: Remove debris and paint/stain flakes off the wood using a broom. Apply a nontoxic deck cleaner, followed by rinsing it and letting it dry. Using a landscape pump sprayer, apply a stain, such as Penofin Verde (about $56 per gallon). 

2. Repair Pathways 

Important Because: Freezing and thawing temperatures can create loose joints and misplaced pavers in your walkway. Reset them before someone trips up, as well as to make the walk more attractive. 

How To: Fill joins with stone dust or sand — hose down and repeat. If pavers have been dislodged, add new base material before you reset. 

3. Build a Raised Garden Bed 

Important Because: The gardening season can be lengthened due to better drainage and because raised bed soil can warm up and thaw out quicker after a frost. 

How To: Buy a kit, such as one by Suncast (about $50), which is made of sturdy, BPA-free resin panels that hook together and secure to the ground using steel spikes.