Bob Vila’s 10 “Must Do” Projects for May
These are the tasks to prioritize this month in order to stay cool when the hot weather hits—and make sure your outdoor spaces are ready for parties and barbecues.
May is a month worth celebrating. As the days become warmer and sunnier, seasonal to-dos both inside and outside the house seem like less of a chore. Make the most of this energizing month by getting your lawn off to a good start, maintaining outdoor tools and gear, and improving your home’s curb appeal. In preparation for the hot summer months ahead, you’ll also want to make sure that your fans and air conditioners are ready to go.
1. Sharpen Mower Blades
Not only does a sharp blade keep your mower in tip top shape, but it can actually improve the look of your lawn. Dull blades can tug and rip grass instead of trimming it gently. Lawn that looks ragged may mean it’s time to take the mower blade to the hardware store for a professional sharpening. If you choose to sharpen mower blades yourself, you’ll need a grinder and some thick work gloves.
2. Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are energy-efficient alternatives to air conditioning units, and they are particularly refreshing during these weeks of open-window weather before the heat kicks in. Install ceiling fans in rooms where you spend the most time which, in most households, would be the kitchen, family room, and bedroom.
3. Ready the Grill
If your grill has been hibernating under the awning on the patio, pull it out and prep it for the season ahead! Check gas grills for any clogs or obstructions in the burner jets and ensure you have ample fuel. If you own a charcoal grill, clean it of any ash and grease. Put in the work now and you can enjoy a spontaneous barbecue without any extra whenever the sun’s out.
RELATED: How to Clean a Gas Grill
4. Prepare to Cool Down
Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that your air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change or clean the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and confirm that the drain pans are draining freely. If you suspect performance or efficiency problems with your air conditioning system, call a pro now. Homeowners with window air conditioners should install them now, before temperatures soar.
5. Paint the House
Go ahead and up your curb appeal game with a new exterior paint job. Before you even pick out your paint colors, there are a few things to do. First, check your siding for any damaged or rotting boards—you’ll need to replace these before you paint. Then chip away and sand any flaking paint so the fresh paint adheres properly. Finally, remove dried, old caulk from around windows and doors and reseal with a paintable sealant.
6. Clean Out the Garage
The garage is often a multipurpose storage room, but that doesn’t make it the household dumping ground. If yours is overrun with clutter, take a sunny afternoon to roll up the door and conquer it—you may well find that you don’t have to buy as many tomato cages and plant stakes this year as you thought you did! Make sure you properly dispose of old paint, batteries, and household chemicals. Check with municipal authorities to determine the correct way to dispose of these and other hazardous waste materials; your city may even offer special porchside pick-up.
7. Install Garden Lights
Whether you need a little extra security lighting in your front yard or you’d like brighter illumination around the back patio and path, solar path lights are a great improvement, but are not a huge investment. These little lamps are easy to install and, because they’re powered by the sun, they’ll never ramp up your electricity bill.
8. 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 garden 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.
9. Redress the Windows
During the winter months, it makes sense to insulate windows with heavy drapes and blinds. During warmer weather months, however, it makes sense to lighten up and hang sheers—those thin, transparent curtains that add privacy while allowing light and breeze in through open windows. If sheers aren’t your thing, consider swapping in solar screen shades that let in light while blocking excess heat. They will keeps your home’s temperature, and cooling bills, at a comfortable level.
10. Pest-Proof the Patio
Backyard pest prevention starts now. Mosquitos breed in standing water, so be diligent about dumping rain and runoff from pots, furniture, and birdbaths. Consider adding mosquito-repellant plants like citronella grass or marigolds to your flower beds. For the brave-hearted DIYer, try installing a handmade bat house. These gentle creatures eat swarms of bugs each night, leaving your backyard much more comfortable.