Grub Control & Other Curb Appeal Tasks for June

If your lawn could talk, it would tell you to water deeply and less often.

String trimmer mowing grass | Buy outdoor power tools
Image: DERO2084/Getty

June’s a critical month to make sure you’re giving some TLC to a key curb appeal asset: your lawn.

You’ll spend less time (and money, if you hire help) if you do these things now rather than later.

#1 Buy Outdoor Power Tools

Trim 15% to 30% off the cost of powered edgers, saws, and more by taking advantage of Father’s Day sales — which typically offer the lowest prices of the year.

#2 Start a Lawn Watering Schedule

Yellow flowers being sprayed by sprinkler against sidewalk
Image: Mr. Sprinkler.ca

When temps climb into the 80s, make sure your lawn’s getting enough water to preserve your curb appeal. That means at least 1 inch of water a week for cool season grasses and a half-inch for warm-season varieties.

Lawns prefer to gulp rather than sip. So water deeply, up to 30 minutes, rather than frequently. You’ll waste less water, too.

#3 Use Grub Control

Close up of lawn being sprayed with grub control
Image: BanksPhotos/Getty

Grubs dine on your lawn’s roots. Left to gorge, they’ll kill your lawn. That’s not cheap to replace: up to $1.75 a square foot to resod, including installation. Go the preventive route and spread a lawn grub-control product that will take care of the eggs now — before they hatch and start munching hungrily.

#4 Stick to a Mowing Schedule

Tween boy in blue mowing lawn outside light green house
Image: Inti St Clair/Getty

Cutting your grass too long or too short, or neglecting to cut it regularly will slowly erode your property’s good looks. To prevent that, you (or your lawn service) should cut no more than one-third of the grass blade per mow. Whacking off more makes your yard susceptible to pests and disease.

Note: You may need to plan for up to two mows a week to stay ahead of growth.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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5 Ways to Keep Severe Weather from Doing a Number on Your Yard

A new way to look at landscaping can protection your yard from severe weather patterns.

Landscaping-climate-change-hardscaping-groundcover-dead-grass-overgrown-fence
Image: Richard Ross/Getty

Contrary to what many may believe, severe weather doesn’t just beat up on the other guy. Mother Nature can wallop anyone’s home and yard.

That doesn’t mean you’ll have to watch your house reduced to briquettes by a wildfire or flooding test your home’s capacity for flotation. But your yard may lose some of its curb appeal if you let nature take its course and you experience events like drought, flooding, hail, high winds, or other uninvited elements. If severe weather is persistent or paired with deficient maintenance, it can set your yard back years. 

It may be time to rethink your ideas about traditional yards and landscaping. Consider new ideas that will stand up to new challenges but still leave you enough time to enjoy your yard – and your life. Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Counteract Drought Devastation

Continuous lack of water is a serious threat to cultivated plants, says Bryan McKenzie, landscape designer and co-founder of the blog Bumpercroptimes.com. Drought slows plant growth, affects the structures of plants, makes them more susceptible to disease, and can even deep-six entire root systems.  

Unless you want to relive the Dust Bowl, understand that drought can have a negative impact on soil. “If you’re in a drought situation, you’re exposing the soil to the sun,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes for Belgard in Atlanta. “[Soil] will bake, dry up, and turn to dust. Pesticides in the dust will be dispersed through the air.” 

To thrive, grass lawns need to quaff at least one inch of water weekly, says Luke Lee, a London-based real estate professional who helps homeowners with landscaping design choices. If your home is in an area gripped by frequent drought, consider installing artificial turf (AstroTurf is one type). It will help conserve water and put a damper on grass fires, Lee says.

Another option: Use drought-resistant plants or mulch on the land to protect the soil and allow the soil biome to thrive, Raboine says. One other possibility is edible landscapes, including blueberry bushes. “Blueberries can be planted from the South to far North and thrive in many different and even fairly harsh conditions,” he says. “There’s receptivity to new ideas about how to cover your land, which are really old ways that predate the arrival of lawn mowers to cut your grass.”

2. Prevent Damage from Excessive Precipitation

Too much precipitation from rain and snowfall can damage both plants and soil, says  the marketing director of Manchester, Conn.-based Green Building Elements. Monsoon-like downpours can unleash a torrent of stormwater pollution, which can kill plant roots.

Flooding can rob landscapes of large volumes of nutrients and also choke them from lack of air. If plants remain in standing water too long, growth can be slowed, or they may die, McKenzie says.

Many homeowners grade the soil on their properties rather than accentuating the natural landscape, says Tom Monson, owner of Monson Lawn & Landscaping in Mendota Heights, Minn. When combined with extreme weather like heavy rains, this grading can lead to erosion.

Homeowners in areas with severe weather need to consider where water drains, Monson says. “Many homeowners have installed customized draining systems to protect against flooding. But many have not installed drainage systems, and [their yards] are at risk.”

Water running off a yard can carry oil and debris, which end up in waterways. To avoid getting the evil eye from the Environmental Protection Agency, consider installing permeable pavements in your yard. Two such coverings are interlocking concrete pavers or amended soils. 

Permeable pavements can prevent both pollutant runoff and flooding, says Raboine. They capture the water in the substrate. There, microbes break down pollutants before they can enter the aquifer. 

“The storm water from a driveway can be collected in a tank in the same way water was once collected in a cistern, and later used for irrigation purposes,” he says. 

3. Secure Your Yard from High Winds

Gusts strong enough to propel Dorothy back to the Emerald City seem more common these days. As threatening as they may be to houses and cars, those gusts are also no friend of your landscaping. Strong sustained winds can rip smaller plants from the ground. After a windstorm, distribution of leaves, pine needles, and small branches, as well as large fallen trees, can make your yard look like a disaster zone. Even milder winds can accelerate soil erosion. That’s destructive to landscaping and brings slower growth.

Landscape experts urge several steps. Prune trees and bushes of loose or dead branches. Before an impending storm, tie down any other loose foliage, and secure furniture or decorations, which can be blown around your lot as well. Think about planting fewer ornamental shrubs or trees, and avoid trees that are easily uprooted by heavy winds. Even ponder cutting down a few trees and foliage vulnerable to high winds.

4. Prepare Your Yard for Extreme Heat

Statistics suggest the weather pattern most deadly for humans is extreme heat. It can be just as lethal to the yards of humans. This weather pattern can cause loss of foliage, dormant lawns, stressed shrubs and trees, and insect and disease infestations. So says Owen Mosser, Maine-based garden expert at online publication The Golden.

To keep your lawn green in spite of the summer heat, replacing some areas with water-wise plantings will make your yard more tolerant. Possibilities include Spanish lavender, African daisy, aloes, pride of Madeira, rockrose, and Juniper.

“Pruning dead or infected limbs will keep plant diseases from spreading to the healthy parts of your yard,” he adds. Detect infected plants by spotting abnormal growth or appearance of disease-causing organisms such as insect larvae or bacterial slime. Leaves are also visibly yellow leaves with white blotches, and the stems may become a bit mushy.

5. Protect Your Landscaping From Harsh Winters

Long cold stretches, when combined with the kind of gusts that send wind chills plummeting to minus zero territory, can leave your yard’s future on thin ice.

Prevent this by overseeding your lawn to generate stronger, healthier grass and keep your lawn safe during the winter months, Mosser says. Incorporating mulch also provides insulation, regulates root and soil warmth, and keeps your plants healthy.

“Don’t forget to remove dead leaves and debris,” he adds. “Doing this will prevent your plants from suffocating and infesting fungus and diseases. Mother Nature can be unforgiving sometimes . . . preventive landscaping is key.” 

Bottom line? Make the time and money you spend on your yard a strong investment against severe weather. Preventive landscaping can help ensure your yard stays green. That could also save you some green by fixing problems that could have been avoided.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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The 5 Best Things to Do When You Move into Your New Home

Yes, a more homey home starts with a new toilet seat.

Natural scented items for the home
Image: Bower Power

Bower Power logo

CONTRIBUTED BY

This article was contributed by Katie and Jeremy Bower, home and lifestyle bloggers for “Bower Power.” They spend every waking minute loving to create, improving homes, and teaching their four little boys (all ages six and under!) how to laugh, love, and learn!

Moving into your dream home can be a daunting task. Between unpacking, cleaning, and trying to find that stray roll of toilet paper, it may feel like you’ve lost your mind in a sea of Bubble Wrap.

That’s why I wanted to share with you five simple things that you should do during the first month in your new home. These may feel like back-burner tasks, but really, they’ll help you sleep better at night and make your new place feel less like a house and more like your home. 

When we moved into our dream house, we were tired, overwhelmed, and couldn’t remember where we put the sippy cups for our 10-month-old son. Plus, we had no idea what to do first! Of course, we cleaned and unpacked, but what next? 

This handful of to-do’s walks you through each of those tasks and why you should tackle them first and foremost. 

Let’s get to it!

#1 Lock It Up

Security is the No. 1 concern for most people in a new environment. You can easily switch out your locks and deadbolts to your new home to protect your valuables and your family.

Woman securing a front door lock
Image: Bower Power

Now’s the time to consider the lockset finish, and the options are endless. When it comes to exterior locks, make sure you choose something that looks timeless and can be cleaned easily.  

A new security system is also a good idea. The options for this are many as well. Systems with online monitoring, smartphone compatibility, thermostat control, and even video monitors for the interior including the baby nursery are super helpful. Even if that room is empty now, it might not be in the future – so go ahead and secure it!

#2 Remove Toilet Seats

Some folks may think it’s unnecessary to replace toilet seats, but my point here is to simply remove them. By removing your toilet seats, you can really deep clean under the bolts and hinges where the “yucks” like to hide. Your goal is to make sure your royal throne is YOU-worthy.

Woman standing in front of toilet seats on a wall
Image: Bower Power

You can reinstall your existing seat or opt to shop for a new one. New versions with night-lights, padding, or even child-sized attachments are available. Either way, you’ll know your favorite seat in the house is ready for your entire family.

#3 Improve Your Home’s Air

Changing an air filter is a three-minute task, and it should be done right after moving into a new home – even if the previous owners swear the chore was just done. Changing out a filter can help improve the performance of your air conditioning and furnace and help with any allergens in the home.

Man checking air filter
Image: Bower Power

This inexpensive fix can also save you money! The U.S. Department of Energy says that replacing your dirty air filter with a new one can lower your AC’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%. 

It’s a good idea to write the replacement date directly on the filter when you put it in so you can be sure you know how long it’s been since the last change. 

Also, take the time to test and change out batteries in all your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These are often tested during inspections, but the batteries can die and tampered-with units aren’t uncommon, especially if a house was left vacant.

#4  Paint Your Front Door

Painting your front door (or freshening it with a coat of oil if it’s wood) can show your new neighbors you’ve arrived on the block and you’re investing in your home. This simple task is so easy!

Woman painting her front door green
Image: Bower Power

After you do proper prep work, which includes sanding the surface, make sure you pick an exterior-grade paint and use a high-quality bristle brush to give it multiple thin coats for the best coverage. It’s a great time to show off your personal style, and these days any color goes! 

Every day you walk in through your newly made-over door, you’ll feel welcomed into your new home and inspired to keep creating a space you love.

#5 Choose Your Signature Scent

Every house has a smell. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that “other people smell” that’s definitely not your own particular brand of aroma. Even if the smell isn’t bad, it just isn’t yours, and that makes you feel like an intruder in someone else’s space. Make your dream home even more dreamy by filling it with your signature scent.  

Don’t have a signature scent? Check out a candle store or the air-freshener aisle to peruse the options, and then regularly use your favorite in your new home. My favorite is a lemon-vanilla-rosemary mix that I let simmer all day on the stove; it fills every room of the house.

In homes that have particularly distressing “stanks,” try getting the carpets cleaned before moving in the furniture. It can eliminate the smell as well as remove allergens, dirt, and stains.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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6 DIY Fire Pits That’ll Make You Feel Oh-So-Warm

Not to mention, get you a nice ROI on your home’s value.

Friends having fun around a DIY fire pit
Image: SolStock/Getty

Don’t spend the whole summer planning your dream fire pit or there could be frost on the ground before it’s ready to roar. Start your DIY now and you won’t miss a single day of prime bonfire season.

Plus, there’s this: A pro-built fire pit costs about $4,500 with a return of about $3,500, according to the “Remodeling Impact Report” from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Now think of your return if you DIY it instead. (Here’s how to do it the money-saving way.)

Some ideas to motivate you:

#1 Old-Timey Rock Fire Pit

A rock fire pit with flame
Image: Greco Design Company

If you live near rocky terrain, you can forage for rocks and stack them into a pit that looks like it came from the 19th century, instead of from a big-box store kit.

#2 Koi Pond Turned Fire Pit

A koi pond converted into a backyard fire pit
Image: Lucy’s Lampshade

If you’ve decided the koi are more trouble than they’re worth, re-home them and turn the fish pond into a fire pit. Drain it, fill it with sand, and top with a layer of lava rock (or azure fire glass if you want to keep the look of water).

Use the money you save on fish food, algae killer, and chlorine remover to buy firewood and marshmallows.

#3 Easy-Peasy Tree Ring Pit

A clay-colored tree ring fire pit with flame
Image: By permission of Dewey Lindstrom

Want to DIY a fire pit, but would rather read software user agreements than spend a weekend stacking and mortaring?

Pick up some concrete tree rings, and you can make a fire pit in about an hour.

Stack the rings into an inner and outer wall. Use rings with a scalloped top so you can turn the top rings upside down and lock them with the bottom ones, Lego-stylePut landscaping rocks between them to make the fire pit sturdier.

And the genius hack: Use a small, round charcoal grill as a liner. Let the bonfire begin.

#4 A Great Big Seat by the Fire

A white sofa bench surrounding a DIY paver fire pit
Image: DIY fire pit sofa bench made by Keeping It Simple

If you’ve got a gaggle of friends, build modular wooden seating so there’s room for everybody around the fire. You’ll need to be handy with math and power tools to build this bench, but the fire pit’s a cinch: It’s made of dry-stack retaining wall blocks. That’s it.

If building benches with angled edges is above your pay grade, just buy some regular benches and arrange in a circle. You made the fire pit. That’s plenty.

#5 A Room With a View

A gravel patio with fire pit, flagstone path, comfy chairs
Image: Monika Davis

DIY Tip

For a gravel patio that’s easy on the feet, use decomposed granite or pea pebbles. Larger rocks are harder to walk on, and the kinds with sharp edges aren’t foot-friendly.

Why stop at a fire pit? Go for a full-on outdoor room in a cozy corner of the yard, with a gravel patio, flagstone path, comfy chairs, and side tables.

This fire pit is super simple: a hole lined with sand and ringed with dry stack pavers.

#6 New Fire Pit, Old Materials

A gray paver patio with fire pit
Image: Project done by Lehman Lane

Why buy new stuff when you may be able to scavenge perfectly good ones from your yard?

Got a paved path you don’t want? A patio that’s too big or in the wrong place? Pick up the stones and use them to make the fire pit you’re craving.

Nearly all of the materials in this fire pit and patio came from other hardscape features in the yard. Those benches? Salvaged wood beams from a razed building.

Scour Craigslist and other marketplaces for used pavers, flagstone, or salvaged wood you can use for a fire pit. Other people’s old stuff works, too.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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How I Turned “What I Could Afford” into My Dream Home

When you can’t afford what you want, you’ve got to be creative.

Renovated kitchen in the Trombley Home
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

That moment when you realize the home you want to buy is not the home you can afford: What do you do?

Eve and Jason Trombley didn’t give up. Nor did they wait until they could save up for their dream home. They were ready to buy, so they did. Even though it wasn’t what they first imagined.

Then bit by bit, they turned it into their dream home.

Here’s their story:

Eve and Jason Trombley
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

Homeowners: Eve Trombley, 40, and husband Jason Trombley, 39

Their home is in: Schaghticoke, N.Y.

Type of home they wanted to buy: Custom built, down to every detail

What they bought instead: A 1977 ranch fixer-upper

Sale price: $167,000

Before the Trombleys renovated their home exterior
BEFORE
After the Trombleys renovated their home exterior
AFTER

Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

Why did you choose this house after giving up on custom building?

Eve: The location. It’s in the country, close to our jobs, family, friends, and in a good school district. It was also reasonably priced and had the potential for a facelift without being overwhelming.

The bones were good. It didn’t have expensive, pressing issues. We weren’t going to have to jack the foundation up or reinstall a furnace and heating system.

What did you want to change about it?

Eve: The exterior needed a paint job, the fence and landscaping were kind of a hot mess, and we ended up having to replace the well pump within the first year of living here.

We were planning more to improve the floors, gut the bathroom, replace light fixtures, that type of stuff. We really hadn’t intended to touch much in the layout other than finishing the basement and adding a bathroom.

But the longer we lived in it, the more possibilities I saw in it. I really need to live with something and think about flow as well as symmetry before settling on the best options.

And that led to bigger changes?

Eve: Oh yes. After we had lived here three years, I figured out the kitchen and dining area could work better, so we completely redid the space. The two spaces were open to each other, and the fridge was encroaching on the dining area.

Before the Trombleys renovated their kitchen
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

So we closed a hallway off the kitchen with a wall, and put the fridge there.

After the Trombleys renovated their kitchen
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

It kept the kitchen from being the thoroughfare for the hallway, and in a way it created more floor space. Then we built a doorway between the dining area and kitchen that made each space more defined, but kept the floor plan open.

We also put a doorway between the kitchen and the living room that mirrored the one between the dining room and living room. It made the three spaces flow together much better.

What’s still on the to-do list?

Eve: We are planning to build a 16-foot-by-24-foot deck off the back of the house so we can have both an eating area and a sitting area. I want to put board and batten with wallpaper in our hallways soon-ish.

We’re going to add a bedroom for my son in the basement, a formal office/studio space for me, and add a toilet and sink down there. And our bathroom is a mess; it needs a new tub, sink, and toilet.

Yowza. Will you ever be finished?

Eve: I have some more big updates in mind. I’d say in about three years we should be mostly settled with what we want to do — if we stick with the existing footprint and don’t add on to the house.

I really need to live with something and think about flow as well as symmetry before settling on the best options.

Eve Trombley

Of all your projects, which has had the biggest impact on your life?

Eve: Definitely the reworking of the kitchen/dining room/living room layout. We used to only seat four people in the dining area; now we can seat six comfortably and up to 10 for holiday dinners.

We can talk to guests in the living room now while we’re in the kitchen, so the space is better for entertaining.

Home dining room decorated for a holiday dinner
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

How much have you spent on renovations? Ballpark estimate is fine.

Eve: Around $20,000. That tally is 99% just materials. Everything has been DIY. Jason works in construction, so we’ve done most of the work. And he has a network of handy friends to help him with different projects.

Wow, having a husband who’s a carpenter with generous friends is handy. How much do you think you saved on labor?

Another Way to Save

If you’re not the savviest DIYer, you can still save by buying materials yourself.Read More InBuying Materials for Your Contractor: How Much Do You Save?

I would say we probably saved at least $10,000 to $20,000, but I’m not super well-versed in labor costs.

What do you think your house is worth after all your work?

Eve: We would probably be able to sell it for about $190,000. Things like the pool have been expensive and can go either way with resale. But we weren’t concerned about recouping the cost if we ever sell; it’s been worth it because we use it so much.

Swimming pool at the Decor Deconstructed home
Image: Eve Trombley of Decor Deconstructed

What’s the hardest part of a home renovation?

Eve: The middle of a project can feel monotonous and never-ending. There’s often a point where you think, “What did I do? I should have left this alone!”

You may need to step away for a week or two so you can recharge and come back with new motivation and fresh eyes. It’s all normal.

What advice would you give to someone tackling their first home renovation?

Eve: I would say not to bite off more than you can chew. Look at your obligations to figure out how much work you can put into a house. If you can only work on the house on weekends, it might be better to go with something that is livable and doesn’t need to be torn down to the studs.

Also, make a list of all the things that need to be done, per room. And expect to spend more money than you planned. And more time.

Has it been worth all the work?

Eve: Yes, it has, and here’s when I knew that. The original owner of the house stopped by. She brought photos of what the house looked like when she owned it. We could see there had once been an enclosed porch off the dining room, like we’re planning to add!

It made me feel even more connected to the house. Maybe we were meant to buy it.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Best 6 (Secret) DIY Home Repair Tips

White wall with chalkboard paint square
Image: Mandi Gubler / Vintage Revivals

Common problems. Genius solutions.

As a DIY home repair junkie, I’ve learned lots of tricks . . . most of them the hard way. Here’s a compilation of my favorite tips to take your project to the next level.

#1 Pre-Painting Prep

Before you paint, use a floor duster to remove all the dust from your walls. Because of the long handle, you won’t even need to pull out a ladder, and your paint result will be a million times better.

#2 Perfect Paint Lines

I have a secret for you. Even if you have texture on your walls, you can achieve perfect paint lines! You can’t stop paint from bleeding, especially if you have heavy texture like popcorn walls. So the trick is to make the bleed invisible. 

After you’ve painted your base color on the wall and taped off your pattern, use the same base wall color and paint along the edges of the tape. This will make the bleed invisible. Then after it’s dry, paint your accent color over the space. Perfect paint lines every time!

A white wall with blue paint tape
Image: Mandi Gubler / Vintage Revivals
A living room with a white wall and a painted coral line
Image: Mandi Gubler / Vintage Revivals

#3 Smooth Caulk Repairs

Getting a smooth finish on caulk can be maddening. And since it’s one of the most common DIY home repairs, knowing to do it easily is key. The chunkiness and unevenness of the caulk can be quite the headache, but luckily, you’ve got everything you need in your house to resolve this problem, and it won’t cost you a thing.

Grab a disposable cup from your kitchen and fill it with water. After you’ve squeezed the caulk onto the seam, dip your finger in the water and run it along the caulk. The water creates a perfect lubricant for your finger. This will give you a smooth finish, and it’s virtually mess free. See how easy here:https://www.youtube.com/embed/Endo66d3oxg?feature=oembed&enablejsapi=1Vintage Revivals

#4 Easy Wood Refinishing

Let’s say you just came across the score of a lifetime at the thrift store: a wooden mid-century dresser that’s in great condition, but the finish isn’t up to your standards.

A refinished wood dresser in a bright living room
Image: Mandi Gubler / Vintage Revivals

Don’t worry about having to sand and restain it — just use a product called Danish oil. It’s a cross between a wood conditioner and a stain and will fill in and disguise the places where the color of your finish is all wrong.

#5 Paint Preserver

If you find yourself mid-paint project and have to take a break, roll your roller in the paint to get a nice thick coat and then wrap it in a garbage bag and put it in the fridge. This will keep the paint fresh for up to a week until you can start again.

#6 Art Straighteners

Do you have a problem with the art on your walls staying level? There’s nothing more distracting than having one or two crooked pictures in a gallery wall.

Buy a package of adhesive strips, cut them into small sections, and place them on the back of the frames. It will keep pictures straight and not damage the walls. 

I hope that you’ll use these tips to make your DIY home repairs a little bit easier!

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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14 Garage Organization Ideas Under $50

Easy-to-afford solutions for your tools, sporting and seasonal gear (so you’ll have room for your car, too).

garage-organization-ideas-storage-jars
Image: Robert Daly/Gett

If you’ve got a garage, most likely you’ve got waaayyyy more than cars in there. It’s the catch-all place to keep stuff (mostly) out of sight and out of mind.

Put order to the chaos and protect your car’s paint job with simple storage systems and organizing hacks for everything from sports equipment to tools.

Bikes, Skates, and Other Wheels

#1 Hoist bicycles to the rafters with a rope-and-pulley system (about $42) that makes it easy to raise the bike and lock it safely in place. When you’re ready to ride, release the lock and lower your bike to the garage floor. You’ll need an hour or two and basic tools to secure the pair of pulleys to ceiling joists and thread the ropes. (Similar hoists are available for kayaks or small boats; starting around $25.)

#2 Use a specially designed wall rack to hang helmets and skateboards together; starting around $20. Secure this one to wall joists in less than an hour.

#3 Keep scooters and bikes out of the way with tool hooks installed on a length of 1-inch-by-6-inch lumber. You’ll pay $3 for each pair of vinyl-coated screw-in tool hooks and $1 per foot for lumber. You’ll need only an hour or two to secure the lumber to wall joists and screw the hooks into place along the board.

Sporting Goods

#4 Bring together balls and bats on a convenient wire rack equipped with hangers that hold gloves too; starting around $31.

#5 Stash two pairs of snow skis, poles, and boots in one handy steel ski rack; $25. Securing this rack to wall studs helps it hold the weight of the equipment. If you can’t position it on studs, use wall anchors for a secure installation. You can do the task with or without anchors in an hour or two.

#6 Stow your fishing rods by suspending two wire shelves from your garage ceiling about 5 feet apart, then threading the rods through the openings. Use shelves left over from a project or purchase a 4-foot-by-16-inch vinyl-coated wire shelf for $25, and saw it in half crosswise (or clip with bolt cutters) to make two 2-foot shelves. Snip additional wires where you need wider slots to accept pole handles or reels.

Tools

#7 Hang wrenches and bungee cords using an ordinary vinyl-coated wire tie-and-belt rack, available at big box stores, starting at $10.

#8 Hang metal tools on a magnetized rail, keeping items in view and easy to retrieve; starting around $15. Simply screw the rail to wall studs to safely hold the weight of the tools (it’s an idea you may be drawn to.)

#9 Cushion and protect tools by padding your toolbox drawers with a soft, nonslip liner. The open-weave design keeps moisture away and prevents tools from rolling around. Enough material to line eight average-size drawers is $9. Just cut the liner to length to fit and slip it into the drawer.

#10 Organize small items — such as pencils, box cutters, and tape measures — by stashing them in electrical junction boxes; about $0.53 each (free if you have spares). Purchase a variety of sizes and shapes and secure them to studs or pegboard.

Yard and Garden Gear

#11 Transform an old filing cabinet into storage bins for various yard tools. Remove the drawers, turn it on its backside, and use a couple afternoons to apply paint and pegboard sides. Less than $25.

#12 Mount heavy tools, long-handled implements, and ladders on long steel rails with extruded holes high on the garage wall and secured to studs. Add hooks and pegs on the rail to hang big tools. Two 48-inch rails sell for $26 to $30.

#13 Secure a wooden pallet to wall studs to create a pocket for holding long-handled garden tools. To find free wooden pallets, check with local businesses as well as online classifieds, such as Craigslist. Cost: free.

#14 Use a can rack to keep bottles of fertilizers, repellents, and lubricants upright and easy to retrieve. Rack ($14) prevents cans and bottles from tumbling off shelves.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Home Cleaner Longer

Use humidity, a car product, and more ‘wow’ ideas to save cleaning time.

Goldfish crackers spread and broken on gray carpet
Image: Micco Caporale for HouseLogic

When cleaning your home, why not do it in such a way that’ll keep your home cleaner with less effort?

Here are 7 ways to keep your house spring-clean fresh all year long:

#1 Use Humidity to Defy Dust

Low humidity levels cause static electricity. Not only does static attract dust, it makes the dust stick, so it’s difficult to remove. High humidity causes problems, too. It’s an ideal environment for dust mites. These microscopic critters are a double threat: They’re a common allergen, and they contribute to dust production. There are as many as 19,000 dust mites in half a teaspoon of house dust, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Yuck!

What to do: Keep your home’s humidity level between 40% and 50%. That’ll eliminate static while decreasing dust mite growth. 

Tip: About 80% of dirt in homes walks in from the outside. Stop dirt with a bristly doormat before it’s tracked inside.

#2 Apply a Car Product to Keep Shower Doors Scum-Free

You can eliminate soap scum buildup by coating your glass shower doors with a rain-repellent product made for car windshields. When applied to glass, these products create an invisible barrier that causes water, oils, and debris (like soap suds) to bead and roll off.

A glass shower door with soap scum
BEFORE
A clean glass shower door
AFTER

Image: unOriginal Mom

What to do: Find this product anywhere that sells basic auto supplies. You’ll know it’s time to reapply when water stops beading on shower doors. Keep in mind, windshield rain repellents were made to treat glass, not plastic, so only use them on a glass door.

Another option: Automatic shower cleaners claim to let you clean your shower and tub less frequently — like every 30 days. After you finish bathing, the gadget will douse your shower and tub with a cleanser that prevents soap scum buildup while combating mold and mildew. You can buy automatic shower cleaners at most big-brand retailers, like Target and Walmart.

#3 Seal Your Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops, including granite and marble, are porous, so if they’re not sealed, liquids like red wine, juice, or soy sauce can stain them. A countertop sealer repels stains by causing spills to bead instead of get absorbed. Most countertops are sealed when installed, but the sealant does wear down.

What to do: To keep your countertops in tip-top shape, reapply sealer twice a year. To see if you need a fresh coat, pour a tiny bit of water on your natural stone countertop. If the water doesn’t bead or doesn’t stay beaded for two to three minutes, it’s time to reseal.

Shopping for stone countertops? Slabs with lots of swirls or veins tend to be more porous, and, therefore harder to keep clean.

#4 Use Protectants on Furniture and Carpets

Protective furniture sprays and carpet sealants, like Scotchgard and Ultra-Guard, guard against inevitable spills by causing liquids to bead on the surface instead of being absorbed.

Some of these products also protect fabrics from fading and resist mold, mildew, and bacteria.

What to do: Apply the appropriate sealer once a year after a deep upholstery and carpet cleaning.

#5 Clean Your Oven the Old-Fashioned Way

Forget oven cleaners that promise an easy job. Most cleaners give off noxious fumes and make a horrible mess. The basic ingredient in many oven cleaners is lye, which can burn your eyes and your skin; it’s usually fatal if swallowed.

What to do: Use a wet pumice stone to scrape off dirt and grease. It’s faster than oven cleaner and toxin-free.

Tip: Need to wipe your range or anything else down? You can bust filth faster by heating up a clean, damp sponge or cloth in a microwave for 30 seconds before wiping with or without a cleaning product. Put on rubber gloves before you pick up that hot sponge.

#6 Do Quick Touch-Ups

Small cleaning projects prevent filth from building up. When you spot clean daily, you can prevent smudges from staining, banish dust bunnies, and even combat allergens.

Dry sweeper cloths, sponges, and cloth on a wood table
Image: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

What to do: Create a spot-cleaning kit so you can address small, dirty situations in minutes.

  • Cleaning pads are great for eradicating dirty fingerprints on walls and light switches. 
  • Damp micro-cloths can reduce airborne dander when used daily to wipe down pets.
  • Dry sweeper cloths can quickly pick up dust and dry dirt off floors, shelves, and electronics.

Tip: Keep stored items cleaner longer by shutting closets, cabinets, and drawers, so circulating dust and dirt can’t get in.

#7 Update Your Light Bulbs

OK, It’s not really cleaning. But good lighting can make you and your home look and feel great — and help you spot that spill before it gets funky.

A room lit with low-wattage incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescents can look dark and dingy. “Daylight” bulbs brighten things up. These full-spectrum light bulbs mimic natural light, so they give better visual accuracy. Bonus: Like sunlight, these bulbs can boost your mood.

What to do: When shopping for bulbs, look for those marked “daylight” that have a range between 5,000 to 6,500 kelvins.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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How to Cool a Room Without AC

Want summer comfort but hate the AC? Follow these tips on how to keep your house cool without frosty air conditioning.

Dog sitting in front of fan keeping cool
Image: Melanie DeFazio/Stocksy

These tips will help you cool a house without AC, which will save energy (and avoid AC wars with your family).

How to Cool a Room Without AC

When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.

Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.

Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.

Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.

Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window films on east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.

Open Those Windows

Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

Turn Up Fans

Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.

Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.

Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including installation) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/17234180/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/000000/

Power Down Appliances

You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

Plant Trees and Vines

These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this.  Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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