Install a Smarter Sprinkler
The key to a lush summer lawn is water: water early, water deeply, water often. Consider automating this landscaping chore by installing a timed sprinkler system. Today's smart sprinkler systems can even adapt their watering schedule to the rain forecast. That means you'll pay only for the water your lawn needs, and not a drop more.
Add an Outdoor Water Feature
A backyard garden pond or fountain provides a tranquil retreat for humans and songbirds alike. When you add a water feature to your outdoor space, your feathered friends will gain a much-needed sanctuary during the dog days of summer, and you and your garden will reap the benefits of their appetite for bugs.
Build a Deck
The deck is one of America's favorite summer gathering spaces, and with some basic construction skills, a little determination, and a free weekend, you can build your own. Before you get to work, become familiar with the tools you'll be using, then establish the dimensions of the deck you'd like to build and decide on your materials—pressure-treated or composite woods are the most popular.
Summer is the perfect time to simplify your life—and home. Keep your dwelling quarters bright and breezy by removing junk that's been weighing you down. Pick one or two modest goals, like arranging a disorderly box of photographs into an album, or carting last summer's reading materials to a used-book shop or donation center.
Bug-Proof Your BBQ
Nothing spoils an outdoor soirée faster than a swarm of insects. Make your landscaping part of your defensive line by strategically positioning basil, marigolds, citronella, and other bug-repellant plants. If that's not enough to give you a pest-free yard, invest in some citronella candles or oil lanterns, and burn them as needed throughout the summer.
Add New House Numbers
Stylish house numbers are an important component of a facade's curb appeal, but their main function remains one of practicality and safety. In an emergency, first responders may need to rely on house numbers to pinpoint your home, so be sure yours are big, bold, and legible from the street. Before settling on the size of your new house numbers, stand at the street, face your house, and try to read the numbers. If they're not immediately legible, increase the size so your house will be easier to identify in an emergency.
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Get Rid of Old Paint
It's always a good idea to keep leftover paint on hand in case of scratches and scuffs. If, however, you're holding on to old paint that no longer matches anything on your walls, or that's too dry and lumpy to use, it's time to toss it. Resist the urge to stack old paint cans at the curb with the regular trash. Paint contains toxic chemicals and must be disposed of at proper facilities. Contact your local sanitation department for disposal information.
Repair the Stairs
The hardest-working parts of the home are often the most neglected. Case in point: the stairs. If you rarely think of yours, now is a good time to take a closer look. Years of trips up and down the steps can wear out the finish on wood treads or turn brightly carpeted stairs dingy. Rent a steam cleaner to freshen dirty carpeted stairs, or sand and refinish worn wooden boards. Also consider repainting the risers, balusters, or railing to give your home a crisp, clean, summery look.
Wash Window Screens
It's the season for open windows, but if your screens are grubby and dusty, even a light summer breeze could be bringing dirty air into your house. Keep your home clean and healthy by giving the screens a good washing. To do so, first remove them from the window, then set them in the driveway and rinse them with a hose. For seriously dirty screens, gently scrub with solution of mild dish soap and water, then rinse clean and let dry before reinstalling them.
Flip the Mattress
How often should you flip a mattress? That depends on the type of mattress you have. Traditionally, mattresses should be flipped twice a year to help them wear evenly and prolong their life. Many of today's pillow-topped mattresses, however, are designed to be one-sided, making flipping unnecessary. Whichever type of mattress you own, it's a good idea to rotate it 180 degrees every few months to promote even wear.
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