Bob Vila's 10 May "Must Do" Projects

It's May, which means lawn and garden season is here. As the temps heat up, you may be tempted to pick up a trowel and head outdoors. Before you do, take a look at my must do projects for this month. Click through to find some tips and ideas for your outdoor and indoor spaces.

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  1. Control Weeds


    During peak growing season, spring weeds can take over a fragrant garden or lush lawn in no time at all. Stay ahead of them with regular weeding. The tried-and-true method is to pull them by hand, with the help of a trowel or weeder, but there are other natural options that can also do the job. For instance, try pouring boiling water on weeds to kill them. Just be sure not to splash any hot liquid on neighboring plants, or you'll wash away your greenery—and all your hard work.

    Related: Wage War on Weeds with 7 Unbeatable Tools

  2. Lower Bills


    When spring and summer temperatures rise, so do electrical bills in many American homes. One of the biggest causes for this seasonal rise in energy usage and costs is the air conditioner. It takes a lot to run these cooling machines, so take measures to make yours run as efficiently as possible. Keep your air conditioner clean and free of debris. Then, prune away vines, grass, and other plants that may be blocking air flow to the machine, in order to reduce strain on the air conditioner, and as a result, lower your bill.

    Related: 7 Tricks for Keeping Cool Without AC

  3. Add Privacy


    Now that sunshine and warm weather have arrived, the backyard beckons for the family to spend the entire day outdoors. You can relax outside and maintain your sense of privacy by adding a few new features. The traditional approach is to build an attractive wooden fence to close off your yard to prying eyes. However, there are a host of modern solutions to try, like living fences, folding screens, and curtain-draped pergolas. 

    Related: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy

  4. Care for Garden Tools


    You'd never dream of returning used silverware to a kitchen drawer without washing it, but many home gardeners do something nearly as bad—stashing dirt-caked garden tools in the garage or shed after use. This habit is more than simply dirty; it can do major damage to tools over time. When you're finished planting, digging, and weeding, rinse the tools before putting them away. Dry them thoroughly to prevent rust, then wipe the blades and handles in linseed oil to keep them looking and working like new.

    Related: 10 "Zero Dollar" Garden Hacks

  5. Divide Perennials


    A little preparation this spring will give you a better garden this fall. Take stock of your fall-blooming perennials like Chrysanthemums, asters, and ornamental grasses. If they are looking a little overgrown, yet producing few flowers, it may be time to divide them. Dig them up, cut the roots into two halves, and replant the pieces, leaving space in between the two sections. Water the plants regularly to help them become firmly established well before autumn. Do the same for spring-blooming perennials this fall for a stronger spring garden.

    Related: 10 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape

  6. Freshen the Sink


    If your kitchen is smelling less than fresh, your sink or garbage disposal could be to blame. Cut kitchen sink stink with one of several natural cleaning methods. One of the simplest ways is to pour hot vinegar down the drain to neutralize the odor. Or, take the cleaning power up a notch by combining baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water. If you have a garbage disposal, try swirling chopped lemon rinds and ice cubes down the drain to get rid of funky sink smell, and repeat this cleaning trick about once a month.

    Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore

  7. Dress the Windows


    During the winter months, it makes sense to insulate windows with heavy drapes and blinds. During the warmer weather months, however, you can make due with sheers—those thin, transparent curtains that add privacy—while allowing light and breeze in through open windows. Another option is solar screen shades that let in light while blocking excess heat, which keeps your home's temperature, and cooling bills, at a comfortable level.

    Related: 19 "Zero Dollar" Upgrades for Your Outdoor Living Area

  8. Take a Class


    Build your confidence and expand your skill set by enrolling in a home improvement class. Big box hardware stores and local shops alike offer free classes on everything from door installation and basic plumbing to building a bird feeder or container garden. Stop by your local home center or do an online search to find classes in your neighborhood.

    Related: 30 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

  9. Repave the Driveway


    Like it or not, the driveway is one of the first things visitors notice about your house. Whether you're selling your home, or staying for the long haul, it pays to repave your driveway on a regular basis. Routine maintenance keeps it looking nice, and saves you the cost of an expensive professional replacement down the line. Luckily, it's an easy job to do if you have a free (and dry) weekend, and a few inexpensive supplies on hand. Here's a simple how-to to get you started.

    Related: Before and After: DIY Facelifts for 8 Home Exteriors

  10. Rip Out the Carpet


    Even the cleanest homeowner can't remove all of the dust and debris that collects in wall-to-wall carpeting. Older coverings especially hold a lot of extra dirt that can exacerbate asthma and allergies. Consider freshening your home by removing the carpeting. First, pull up the carpet in an inconspicuous corner to determine what kind of flooring you have underneath. If you have hardwood floors, you can remove the dingy carpet and refinish them, or leave them as-is depending on their condition. If you find a concrete or plywood subfloor beneath your carpeting, you may want to price out flooring alternatives before you remove it.

    Related: 7 Secrets to Keep Your Carpet Looking New

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