Bob Vila’s “Must Do” Projects for July

Before you soak up all that summer has to offer, check tasks like plant care, pool maintenance, and storm prep off your to-do list.

By Bob Vila Staff | Updated Jun 21, 2023 5:11 PM

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Woman wearing sun hat using pump sprayer to spray plants


July’s longer days and warmer weather mean there’s plenty of good reason to be outside, and no shortage of tasks to tackle. There’s plenty to do inside the house time of year, too, and the good news is that you can keep cool while doing it. This month’s to-do list includes a little cleaning, a little plant feeding, and preparations for both storms and vacations.

1. Chill Out in the Basement

Spacious finished basement with cream-colored walls and hardwood floors in foreground


In most homes the basement is the coolest room in the whole house, which makes it a great place to hide out in the summertime. Even if you don’t have the time or money to devote to a full basement remodel, you can make a few simple changes to spruce up the space. If you can hang drywall over cinder block walls, splash a little paint on them. Consider painting the concrete floor or laying down removable carpet tiles for instant comfort.

RELATED: 15 Basement Ceiling Ideas to Inspire Your Space

2. Keep Up With the Pool

Man dipping pool test kit into swimming pool


If this is the year you add a swimming pool to your outdoor oasis, be sure to do your research. Whether in-ground or above-ground, its size, shape and location will be important considerations. So, too, will pool care and maintenance. Be sure to maintain chlorine and pH levels to reduce algae growth, and remove leaves and debris that could clog the pool’s filter and drain. 

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Pool Test Kits

3. Prep for Storms

Collection of flashlights, lanterns, and batteries on a tabletop

Don’t wait for storm clouds—or warnings—before taking steps to keep your family safe in extreme weather conditions. Be sure to have flashlights and batteries on hand, and stock up on food and water. When you receive news that a severe storm might be headed your way, be sure to charge your mobile devices. And, if you live in an area prone to flooding, make certain the sump pump is in good working order.

RELATED: How to Survive a Hurricane: 21 Smart Preps You Can Make Now

4. Secure the House

Exterior of contemporary home illuminated at dusk


Before you pack your bags and leave home in favor of more exotic locales, take some time to secure the house against intruders. Overgrown lawns, overfilled mailboxes, and darkened porch lights are all cues to burglars that your house is unoccupied, and an easy target for home invasion. Stay on the defense by hiring a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn, and contact the post office to stop your mail. To keep the lights on even while you’re out, use a light timer, or invest in an app-controlled smart lighting system.

RELATED: Leaving These Things at Your Front Door Could Keep You Safe

5. Bug Off

Exterior home porch light illuminated after dark


There are few summer pastimes as relaxing as enjoying a quiet evening on the porch with friends and family, but a bug-filled outdoor light fixture can quickly kill the mood. After making sure it’s cool to the touch, unscrew the glass portion of the fixture, rinse out any debris or dead flies, then replace it. 

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Outdoor Motion-Sensing Lights

6. Clean the Fridge

Person wearing blue rubber glove cleaning refrigerator shelf with microfiber cloth


Here’s a project for a sweltering summer day: Keep cool in front of an open refrigerator by giving it a thorough cleaning. Remove food, condiments, and fridge liners and wipe down everything with warm water and mild dish soap. Clean crumbs from the gasket, as well as wire racks, crevices, and behind crisper drawers. Finally, wipe condiment jars and cartons to remove sticky spots before returning them to the fridge.

RELATED: Solved! How to Freshen Up a Smelly Fridge

7. Give Birds a Place to Bathe

Two birds perched on the edge of a bird bath


Help backyard wildlife beat the heat this summer by adding a bird bath to your garden. The water will lure songbirds to the yard, bringing a bit of cheer to your outdoor space. Be sure to dump the water regularly to eliminate mosquito larvae, and keep it clean and safe for your feathered friends.

RELATED: 10 Inventive Designs for a DIY Garden Fountain

8. Feed the Flowers

Hand holding garden hose spraying wand


It’s now prime growing season for plants, but they still need food to keep them large and lush. Using a liquid fertilizer, feed outdoor container plants twice weekly. Avoid the base of the plants to reduce the risk of burning them. Your garden will reward you with fast growth and beautiful flowers, practically overnight.

RELATED: 25 Easy-Care Plants That Survive With or Without You

9. Trim the Trees

Person wearing gardening gloves using loppers to trim tree branches


In many regions, summer thunderstorms are rolling in, making tree maintenance imperative. Dead branches can break and fall during storms, damaging roofs, landscaping, and occasionally even downing power lines. Remove dead branches now to steer clear of trouble. While you’re at it, remove suckers—those tiny branches sprouting in odd spots along the tree trunk or limbs. Although they may seem harmless, they divert a tree’s energy from the higher branches, weakening the plant.

RELATED: When Is the Best Time to Trim Trees for Proper Maintenance?

10. Nurture the Roses

Garden hose near puddle and rose bush


If you have roses you know that they require special care to reach their full potential. Since their roots go deep, frequent watering is important. So, too, is fertilizer, which you should lay down after each flush of new blooms.

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