Get your home in shape with these indoor and outdoor projects to do in an hour, over a weekend or longer-term
With longer days on the horizon, summer is a good time to get going on some larger home projects both indoors and out. Hotter weather is also your cue to tune up those irrigation systems, boost shade and (finally) clean out the garage. Check these to-dos off your list to keep your home and garden in top shape all season long.
Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
Keep mosquitoes at bay. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed — but it’s not just ponds and puddles that cause problems. As Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, entomologist at the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, reported to Houzz, even something as small as a soda cap filled with water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. To stay ahead of the problem, walk around your property twice a week and dump out any water that has collected, including bird baths (feel free to refill with fresh water), flower pots and saucers, children’s toys, tarps, patio furniture and anywhere else water collects.
Inspect kitchen and bath fixtures. Keeping an eye on sinks and tile surrounds can help prevent costly water damage and repairs down the road. Make note of areas in need of new grout or caulk, as well as any slow leaks to repair. While you’re at it, freshen the kitchen drain by grinding a few ice cubes along with a few tablespoons of salt in the garbage disposal.
Check safety devices. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested at least once a month and replaced every 10 years, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors by pressing the test button; replace batteries as needed. Also, take a moment to check the expiration date on any fire extinguishers in the house and replace them if needed.
Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend
Launder soft furnishings. Keep your textiles looking fresh by laundering slipcovers, shower curtains, cushion covers and curtains, or sending them out for dry cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Keep upholstery and Roman blinds looking their best by vacuuming them regularly using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. Have large area rugs and carpets professionally cleaned, or rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself.
Prep your porch. Summer is prime time for hanging out on the porch with icy cold drinks and watching the world go by. Get your porch ready by cleaning the floor, exterior windows, windowsills and front door. Use a long-handled duster to wipe cobwebs from the ceiling, light fixtures and high corners. Lay down a fresh doormat, and plant a pot of flowers. If you have porch furniture, clean it off and wash the cushions.
Keep landscape fire-safe. If you live in an area with dry summers (such as California), doing what you can to keep dry brush away from your home is an essential fire-prevention measure. Remove weeds, fallen leaves, needles and other items (like stacks of firewood) that could become fuel in a fire from the area immediately surrounding your home. All such material should be cleared from within 30 feet of your home to create defensible space, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Deep-clean your grill. Grilling season has arrived! Make sure your grill is ready to hold up to plenty of backyard barbecues by giving it a deep cleaning — a clean grill works more efficiently and prevents flare-ups. If you have a gas grill, be sure to check the fuel line for cracks and clean out any clogged burner holes. Clean the grates and interior with a grill brush and wash the exterior with warm, soapy water.
Tune up your lawn mower and garden tools. Sharp tools are safer and do a better job. Take your lawn mower and clippers in for a sharpening and tuneup so they’re ready to work hard. Keep garden tools in good shape throughout the season by wiping them off with a damp cloth after use, drying them well and coating them lightly with a few drops of a multipurpose oil.
Test irrigation systems. A sprinkler or irrigation hose that has a blockage or leak can quickly cause major problems for your lawn and garden. Test your sprinklers and irrigation system at the beginning of the season, and again before leaving on any trips. Tired of trying to keep the lawn green all summer? Planting a low-maintenance lawn alternative can be a smart move, especially in regions with dry summers like California.
Clean out the garage. Summer is a good time to tackle a big project like cleaning out the garage. If your garage is jam-packed, it will likely take more than one weekend to fully sort through it all, so schedule several blocks of time on the calendar in advance. It also helps to think ahead and find out where you can take items (donations, hazardous waste, things to sell) and arrange to get a dumpster if you think you will need it. Once your garage is cleaned out, consider adding wall-mounted storage to keep things neat and off the floor.
Boost home security before summer travels. Motion-sensing exterior lighting, timed interior lighting and well-trimmed hedges can make your home a less appealing target for break-ins. Exterior video monitors and security systems can offer another layer of support if you want it. And if you’re planning to be away from home for a longer period of time, be sure to have your mail held for you at the post office and hire a lawn service to keep your yard from getting overgrown while you are away.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Season
Add shade to outdoor spaces. Having enough shade in the backyard can make the difference between an appealing outdoor space and one you avoid when the sun is high. Add freestanding umbrellas for portable shade around outdoor seating and dining areas, or install a shade sail (as shown here) for a more permanent shady spot.
Upgrade pool safety measures. If you have a pool or hot tub in your backyard, the best way to prevent accidents is to implement as many layers of safety as possible, including adult supervision, CPR training, safety barriers and door and pool alarms. Make sure to keep your pool and hot tub clean and in good working order with regular inspections, and if you’re looking to add another layer of safety, consider adding a self-closing, self-latching gate at least 4 feet high, to prevent children from jumping or falling in, and place a safety cover on your pool when not in use. The American Red Cross also recommends installing a pool alarm that will go off when anyone enters the pool.
Schedule big home projects. Whether you’re dreaming of a landscape makeover or need to replace a deck, don’t delay booking the right professional for the job. Please feel free to contact us ARTeam@AndrewsandRoberts.com for a contractor referral. Their schedules tend to fill up quickly in the summer — plus, the sooner the work is done, the longer you will have to enjoy it.