BOISE – Despite pesky winter weather, many Americans are beginning the process of “spring cleaning.”  AAA is reminding homeowners that routine yard maintenance will beautify your outdoor space and help protect your home from damage.

“Keeping your yard clean and organized may not typically come to mind when you think about travel planning, but protecting your home can prevent a stressful experience while you’re on vacation,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Not only will you reduce the risk of damage, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the outdoors during the warm months ahead.”

Here are some things to keep in mind while tidying up your yard:

  • Prune tree limbs to keep them from damaging your home, decks, and outbuildings.  It’s easier to trim them back before spring foliage returns.
  • Remove sticks, leaves and other winter debris from gutters so that water can flow freely.
  • Create a defensible space around your home, with trees at least ten feet away from structures and each other.  Minimize shrubs and trees close to your home, remove dead vegetation, and keep grass short and watered.  Never store a wood pile next to a building.
  • Keep propane tanks away from buildings and flammable vegetation.
  • Check for local restrictions on burning yard waste.  If possible, compost or donate these materials – in some areas, local cemeteries may accept lawn clippings and leaves.
  • Only add fuel to your mower when the engine is cool.  Remove rocks and other debris before mowing to prevent injury and damage.  Never leave a running mower unattended.
  • Make sure that downspouts properly drain water away from your home’s foundation.
  • Ensure that your address is clearly marked and visible from the street.
  • Speak with your insurance agent to ensure that you have adequate coverage.

“Emergency preparedness is another aspect of home safety.  Create and rehearse an evacuation plan with your family, including where you’ll meet up in an emergency,” Conde said.  “Keep important papers in a waterproof and fireproof box.  Assemble an emergency kit with food and water for three days, a multipurpose tool, a flashlight, radio, batteries, extra cash, a cell phone and charger, first-aid supplies, critical medications, and basic personal hygiene products.”