In springtime, while it’s easy to excuse yourself from yard work because of constant rainfalls or annoying allergies, you really should prepare your yard for the season, and for the one to follow, summer. If you wait too long, it could take longer for your grass to appear lush and weed-free, for your gardens to redevelop and for your fruit trees to produce.

And this is never more true than when you’re trying to sell. Now is the time to make your home—and its surroundings—look its best.

Here are steps to keep in mind:

  • Remove anything in your yard that doesn’t belong. That means raking dead, crumbled leaves that reappeared from under melted snow, picking up twigs and branches that snapped off of nearby trees, and disposing of any litter that blew into your yard from unknown sources.
  • Dethatch your lawn by using a rake to get rid of the layer of dead grass that has taken residency over your lawn. This is vital for your grass to receive the natural nutrients needed to grow. Also, if you use fertilizer or weed killer, it will not reach the lawn unless you remove this layer of thatch.
  • Lay a slow-release fertilizer on your lawn. This type of fertilizer will slowly release nutrients in your yard that will not cause the grass to grow before it’s ready. This way, even if Mother Nature decides to cover us with an April snowfall, your lawn will still be slowly working its way toward a green June.
  • Dig your lawn mower out of the shed or the corner of the garage and test it. Check for wear on the spark plugs, sharpen the blade, change the oil if needed, clean out old grass clippings and fill up the gas. If the mower is in need of repair, you have plenty of time to fix it. If not, it’ll be all ready for the first cut.
  • Scale back trees and bushes by trimming back limbs that are damaged or have grown beyond the rest. This will make room for the tree to grow faster and healthier. Keep branches out of your walkway and patio/porch area. Evenly trim bushes to look neatly manicured.
  • Now is the time to plant new foliage in the yard. Spring rain creates soft soil that makes digging as simple as ever. Plant new rose bushes, berry bushes or fruit trees now so that they have time to begin their spring growth.
  • While you should wait to plant and decorate with new perennials, you should pick them out now. Research the types of perennials available, find out which will grow in the sunlight and type of soil available in your yard, and plan a layout.