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.
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
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.
2. Keep Up With the 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.
3. Prep for Storms
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.
4. Secure the House
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.
5. Bug Off
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.
6. Clean the Fridge
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.
7. Give Birds a Place to Bathe
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.
8. Feed the Flowers
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.
9. Trim the Trees
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.
10. Nurture the Roses
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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