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.
There are few summer pastimes as relaxing as enjoying a quiet evening on the porch with friends and family. However, a bug-filled light fixture can quickly kill the mood. Unscrew the glass portion of the fixture (first making sure it is cool to the touch), and rinse out any debris or ill-fated flies, then replace it for a more slightly outdoor set-up.
Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting
Here's a project for a sweltering summer day. Keep cool in front of an open fridge 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.
Clean the Screen
A screened porch allows you to enjoy the outdoors, minus the bugs. Because they're protected from the elements, a screened porch usually requires less frequent cleaning than an outdoor porch. Still, at this point in the season yours could benefit from a spruce up. Wipe dirt away from window screens and sills, and run a damp microfiber cloth over metal or plastic furniture. Clean upholstered furniture according to manufacturer specifications, and remove cobwebs from ceilings and corners. After that, you might as well enjoy the space by inviting the neighbors over and firing up the grill.
Just Add Water
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 mosquitoes larvae, and keep it clean and safe for your feathered friends.
Feed the Flowers
Now is the height of the growing season for plants, but they need food to keep them large and lush. Using a liquid fertilizer, feed outdoor container plants twice weekly, avoiding the base of the plant to reduce the risk of burning it. Your garden will reward you with fast growth and beautiful flowers, practically overnight.
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.
The Ground Floor
Basements aren't usually renowned for their looks, but that's no reason to keep a truly awful floor. When looking for new flooring materials, there are several options to consider for finished and unfinished basements. Look to ceramic or vinyl tile, but steer clear of laminate or wood, which can swell when exposed to moisture. If you want to keep the existing concrete floor rather than installing new materials, consider covering it with epoxy or paint for a new look.
Organize the Garage
The garage is perhaps one of the most neglected rooms in the house, and yet all too often it becomes the dumping grounds for odds and ends. Summer is the most disorderly season for most garages, when sports equipment, lawn and garden tools, and off-season items compete for space. Set aside an afternoon to go through the contents of your garage. Return items to that belong to racks and shelves, and return anything that doesn't to the shed, house, or take it to a donation shop.
Zillow Digs home in Cave Creek, AZ
Raise the Blade
The golden rule of lawn care is to mow no more than 1/3 off the top of the grass blade. The reason is that to cut more puts undue stress on the plant and makes it susceptible to scorching from the sun. Grass grows faster in the summertime, which means if you're not resetting your mower blade, you're probably chopping way too much off the top. Raise the height of your blade based on the height of the lawn for healthier grass. You may need to adjust it more than once this season to get the best results.
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.