Bob Vila’s 10 “Must Do” Projects for August
The end of summer is on the horizon, but don't despair—there's still plenty of time to get outdoor chores done before cool weather kicks in. These are the tasks on our minds this month.
It’s August, which probably means that—depending where you live and whether you have air conditioning—you’re spending the month trying to take advantage of every last minute of warm summer weather, or doing your darnedest to stay out of the sweltering heat. There’s plenty to do this month both indoors and out, from gardening duties and keeping the house cool to getting the house ready for back to school.
1. Clean the Air Conditioner
The summer heat can put strain on your air conditioning unit, causing spikes in electricity bills, or worse, costly repairs. But if you give your HVAC system a little TLC, it will reward you with years of continued service. Change out the disposable air filter on your air conditioner and give the condenser fan a good cleaning to keep it in peak condition.
2. Clear Seasonal Clutter
Kick seasonal clutter to the curb, or at least find a way to store it neatly in the garage. When shelves and drawers are in disorder, it usually means you have too much on hand. Take some time to go through your stuff, saving what you need and donating what you don’t. For professional help, consider hiring a garage-organizing company.
3. Check the Deck
From summer barbecues to seasonal storms, your deck weathers it all. If yours is looking a little worse for wear, give it a boost with some light maintenance. First, sweep and rinse away dirt, debris, and mildew. Then, check for loose boards or nail pops. Finally, replace boards as needed and give the surface a coat of deck stain and sealer. Now it’s ready for more memorable summer fun.
4. Tune Up Your Bathroom Fan
Your bathroom exhaust fan works hard, pumping humid air out of your home and preventing mold and mildew. Clean your bathroom exhaust fan every so often to extend its life: Turn off power to the fan and vacuum away the dust. Then, remove the vent cover and wash it with mild soap and water. Check all the parts to make sure they’re running, and replace any damaged ones as needed.
5. Save Seeds
Backyard gardeners, take note: This year’s harvest could feed your household all through next summer. Save your seeds now, and you’ll have everything you need for next spring’s veggie garden. If you’re new to saving seeds, check out this quick tutorial. Be sure to stow the little treasures in small brown kraft envelopes, which will protect seeds from light.
6. Remove Thatch
Thatch is a layer of plant material that builds up between the soil and grass. In small amounts it can be beneficial to your lawn, but too much can damage the turf. By late August, cool-season grass can benefit from dethatching. Use a thatch rake, like the True Temper 15-inch thatch rake, to comb away thatch from the lawn. Afterwards, apply a thin layer of fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Learn a New Skill
Mastering the art of home improvement can save lots of money that you might otherwise spend on hiring a contractor. This month, invest in yourself by picking up a new skill. Many hardware stores offer free summer classes that cover the basics of plumbing, tiling, or even fence building. For more specialized projects, try an online course.
8. Get School Ready
Yes, the school year is fast approaching. One way to get prepared is to create a backpack station near the door used most frequently. Another is to outfit a common area, such as the kitchen, with a homework chart or work station.
9. Dry Herbs
August is the best month for home gardeners to begin drying and freezing home-grown herbs for winter storage. Pick your leaves early in the day, before it’s too hot. For best flavor, start early in the month. Basil, parsley, and dill do better when stored frozen. Sage, oregano, and mint taste best when air- or oven-dried.
10. Do Something Small
With fall on the horizon, it’s a good idea to wrap up any lingering summer projects. If you’ve committed to finally fixing that squeaky door hinge or repainting the banister, finish the job now and cross it off your to-do list. You’ll feel energized knowing that you’re starting off the new season in an organized and proactive way.