BY ANNIE HUSTON,  BIRDSALL & CO.

Spring clean up sounds so much better in French: nettoyage de printemps. But no matter which language we use, it is not just about the groundwork to prepare for the warm season. We’ve had all winter to look out the windows and dream about how we will enjoy our garden when the cicadas come back to town. Instagram and Pinterest pictures we accumulated can testify to our level of energy and grand vision; so, where do we start?

Less than sexy

Cleaning the greyness and drabness out of our outdoor areas and gardens is the first step. Debris accumulated in the shrubbery over the cold months, combined with all dog toys, random sheets of newspapers, and broken bird feeders should end up in the trash. Comb through all the perennial and shrub beds with a rake; this will go a long way towards refreshing a garden. As soon as the forsythias are showing buds, the weather is usually welcoming enough to dig further into cleaning the spent perennials and grasses from last year by unsparingly cutting them back. Plus, this is a great work out.

Front porches are notorious for attracting all sorts of rubbish, dirt, muddy doormats and spider webs. A vigorous sweeping and hosing down will make a huge difference. If your house is graced with teak outdoor furniture, they could probably benefit from a light sanding to get that honey color back.

Somewhat sexy

Once the heavy spring clean up is behind us, we can watch for the bulbs to appear along with that fresh spring scent in the air. Now is the time to plant pansies in beds or planters and enjoy the first bright colors after the snow. They will bloom until it gets too hot, mid-May, only to be replaced with annuals. This is a good opportunity to take a serious look at containers and to weed out the ones that are chipped, too small, too random, and too ugly. We should only keep a few larger pots and the test is to check whether they add to the space even when they are empty. If not, it may be time to invest in containers that make you happy, planted or not.

Sexy

Water is a great accompaniment to a garden, and barring an in-ground water feature or pool, adding a running water component will liven up any empty courtyard, back yard, or patio. Even a small amount of water sound from a birdbath fountain will have a great impact on the mood of the space. With little maintenance, other than topping it off with a cocktail in hand after a long day of work, it becomes a feature to be enjoyed all day long. A fountain is really the little black dress of garden décor: it never gets old, never out of style, is always elegant. 

Definitely sexy

The final touches to an outdoor space are like drops of perfume before a long awaited date. They need to be well-researched and chosen with care because every detail counts. Too much perfume and the effects are opposite of the expected ones. Too many accessories end up cluttering outdoor spaces. Once the needed furniture is in place, the creative decoration can take place. Containers are an important addition to hardscaped areas, as they will add a splash of color and style either with their finish and pattern or with the plantings. Try and stay away from busy pots with colorful annuals, as it tends to be overdesigned and busy. Instead, pack a punch of various flowers in a simple container or use one large plant in a pot that becomes the accent piece and the center of interest. There is no right or wrong with either option; it is simply a matter of your favorite aesthetics. Roaming through a store to find the pots you bond with is a nice creative outlet. 

Sexy Saturday for two

When everything else is chosen and in its rightful place, the personal and emotional search for our own last detailed touches is definitely the best part of spring. It could be chimes or beautiful bird feeders (hummingbirds have often been spotted in Wash Park!), a piece of statuary that will make us happy every day, or a bird bath to nestle in the landscape. They may even become an heirloom possession to pass down to the kids when they move into their own homes.

All that is left is to enjoy our Colorado sunshine, outside in our own blissful home!

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