TOWNSEND -- The days are getting longer and warmer. Chances are, someone in the house is just itching to get out in the yard.

Once the snow cover is gone, suddenly, the problem areas outside the door are apparent. It just does not look too inviting.

It is best to be proactive about cleaning the yard, said Sam Briguglio, owner of Apple Meadow Hardware. The first thing to do is rake. By removing the debris and old, matted grass, new lawn can grow in more easily.

Spring is also a good time to begin insect control. There are many organic products to use, and the earlier a homeowner starts, the better the chances of avoiding an infestation, he said.

Disease-carrying mosquitoes breed in anything that contains water. That means cans, tires and dirty birdbaths, according to Conservation Commission member Jennifer Pettit, who is also an ecological/organic residential gardener.

As an ecologist, "I am always concerned about the mosquito dunks that they sell for people to put in ponds, or more likely, vernal pools, to kill mosquitoes," she wrote in an email.

Disease-carrying mosquitoes in swamps usually occur only in the southwestern part of the state, she said.

Other town officials do use nonorganic pest control in the yard. Animal Control Officer Mary Letourneau treats her yard with flea and tick killer in the spring. Most people do not need to do that, she said, but she frequently houses infested stray animals.


Intense yard work sometimes finds people doing things they do not do very often, like cleaning the gutters.

Safety is on the mind of Building Inspector Rich Hanks.

"Be very careful with ladders," he said, adding that falls are the number-one cause of injuries to contractors.

And while you're up on the ladder, be aware of power lines.

Spring cleanup is also a good time to make sure furnace and dryer vents are in good repair and that the roof and shingles are intact.

"Just kind of do a walk around the house," he said.

Once the muck and debris are gathered up, the next issue is disposing of it. Compostable bags are the way to go for yard waste, Briguglio said. Paper bags that will dissolve are much less unsightly than years worth of plastic bags piled up at the property line.

One of the earliest "crops" to blossom along the front of the property is roadside trash. Pettit said that during a cleanup for the Friends of Willard Brook, Dunkin' Donuts coffee cups and beer cans made up the bulk of the trash.

The Townsend Recycling Center accepts clean Styrofoam during regular operating hours. Larger amounts of the plastic foam can be brought to Reformist, a recycler on Sculley Street in Ayer. Cans can be returned for the deposit or recycled.

The Townsend Recycling Center will be open every Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., from April 20 through May 18. A recycling guide is scheduled to be published in the paper on April 19.