Keep up with your lawn & garden maintenance

Keep up with your lawn & garden maintenance

After months of diligent care, the arrival of August hopefully brings with it a feeling of satisfaction as you sit back and enjoy your lawn and garden at their peak. Whether it’s sturdy rows of fresh vegetables, a beautifully manicured lawn or a garden full of summer blooms, you’ve worked hard to get to this point.

Now, it’s all about maintenance. Here are a few chores you can tend to in August to maximize the life of your annuals, give your lawn a jumpstart for next year and get the best yield from your homegrown produce.

Lawn care:

  • Continue with regular mowing. If you usually bag and dispose of clippings, stop. Leaving clippings on the lawn will provide extra nutrients for the long winter months.
  • Check your lawn for diseases and pests and address if needed. Look for brown spots, which could be caused by yellow chinch bugs or disease.
  • Late August or early September is the best time for overseeding your lawn. This helps keep your grass healthy, lush and green. After mowing, de-thatch with a thatch rake, taking care not to damage your existing grass. Then apply a good quality grass seed, rake lightly to help seeds settle into soil and water regularly over the next week or so to help seeds germinate. 

Garden care:

  • Divide and transplant perennials like peonies, daylilies and irises late in the month, if needed.
  • Deadhead as needed to prolong the life of annuals and perennials.
  • Prune your summer flowering shrubs, climbers and trees.
  • Pick your vegetables and herbs early in the morning – this is when their sugar content is the highest.
  • Cut tops off tomato plants in late August and remove new flowers in order to divert energy to fruit already growing. 
  • Freeze excess vegetables and herbs for use all winter long.

With a little extra care in August, you can make the most of your lawn and gardens well into the fall season.

Revamp your outdoor space

Revamp your outdoor space

Nothing beats relaxing on your patio, porch or deck after a long day. With just a few months of warm, sunny weather, Canadians do like to maximize their outdoor space come the summer months. But not every home comes equipped with the perfect spot for enjoying a warm, evening breeze. Here are some tips for making the most of your home’s outdoor space, no matter what the issue!

The blank slate: If you’ve recently moved into a home with a bare backyard and your budget is tight, try making small changes every year rather than tackling the entire space in one summer.  There are tons of affordable changes you can make to create a relaxing setting. The first mission to undertake is seating, a key element to any comfy gathering spot. Shop online garage sale sites and Kijiji to find a used patio set in good condition or look for some old, aluminum folding lawn chairs that you can upcycle. Simply remove the canvas or plastic webbing and replace by weaving some colourful craft cord across the frame! You can find step-by-step instructions online. Other options for DIY, budget-friendly furniture include pallets and cement blocks, tires and cable spools. You’d be amazed at what you can create with so little!

The fishbowl: Some homeowners are reluctant to use their backyards because there is little privacy, especially in newer subdivisions lacking mature trees.  If you’re feeling a little exposed, there are many ways to make your space feel like a secluded oasis. For an immediate solution, use wood, outdoor fabric or plants to create a wall that will create a partially enclosed seating area. Thinking long term, a privacy hedge is the perfect solution for an exposed backyard.  Good options include: arborvitae, boxwood, Golden vicary privet, forsythia and French lilac.

Small and compact: Even tight spaces can be turned into a wonderful place to kick back and relax after a long day. When creating more livable space outdoors and square footage is tight, think first about how you want to utilize the space and plan accordingly. Would you like an entertainment/eating area? A spot for kids to play? A meditating garden with a pond?  You likely will only be able to choose one function for a small backyard so take the time to consider how you can get the most bang for your buck!

Summer maintenance around the house

Summer maintenance around the house

While there is certainly no need to spend every weekend this summer tackling household chores, there are a few key tasks that most homeowners will want to tend to in the coming weeks to keep your home’s systems running as they should and to prepare for the season ahead.

Your roof and eavestroughs’ main function is to keep the elements, namely water, out of your home. Summer is a good time to check for cracked, curling or missing shingles and have them replaced immediately. Be sure your eavestroughs are clear of debris and properly affixed to your home. Siding is also susceptible to leaks, especially where it meets windows and doors. Look for mushrooms or fungus growing out of siding, it’s a sign that moisture is beneath.

After you’ve checked your home’s highest point, you should turn your attention to its lowest. Take a good look at your home’s foundation to see how it faired the winter months and the rainy spring season. Walk the perimeter of your home, examining the foundation for cracks. Even the smallest opening can allow water to seep into your basement. Use a ruler to measure.  If the crack is wider than 3/16 of an inch, it can be a problem. Mark smaller cracks with tape and keep track of their progress. You can likely fix a smaller crack yourself but larger ones will need to be tended to by a professional.

Proper care and maintenance will go a long way in extending the life of your deck and fencing. The blistering summer sun and harsh Canadian winters take their toll on wood elements, so it’s important to stay on top of maintenance. Dry rot and wet rot are two issues that you will have to watch out for when it comes to your deck and fence.  An annual stain application is the best way to combat both potential problems. You can’t go wrong with a good-quality linseed oil-based, solid or semi-transparent stain.

Staying on top of your home’s many features and fixtures will save you money, headaches and time down the road!

Divide and conquer your chores

Divide and conquer your chores

With the warm weather on its way, the kids out of school soon and weekends booking up fast with lots of family fun, the last thing you want to be is tied down every Saturday morning cleaning the house. During the summer months, certain weekly chores can safely lose priority (it’s only for a couple of months!) and there are many ways that you can ‘clean as you go’ during the week to reduce the mess you’re facing come the weekend. Take a look!

Spread out the jobs: The kitchen is likely a room that you spend way too much time in cleaning each weekend. In order to avoid the massive weekend scrub-down, divide your tasks and tackle one each day. On Monday, wipe down the cupboard doors, on Tuesday, clean the oven, on Wednesday, sanitize the microwave, on Thursday clean out the fridge, etc. Also be sure to wash and dry dishes and wipe down the stove, sink and countertops after each and every meal so the mess doesn’t build up.

Keep supplies in each room:  Having furniture polish and a microfiber cloth tucked away somewhere in your living or dining room will make it easier for you to give shelves, tables and other surfaces a quick wipe as you pass through. Keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom as well so that you can wash things down throughout the week when you have a few minutes.

The clutter basket: Keep a good-sized basket out of sight when not in use, perhaps in the laundry or mudroom. Each morning before you leave the house, do a quick walk-through, tossing in the clutter from each room. Ask family members to check for and remove any possessions that have accumulated on a weekly basis – or they go in the trash!

Other easy ways to clean as you go:

  • Multitask by folding laundry while watching your favourite show
  • Spray the shower and tub after each use
  • Invest in some good storage cubes, baskets or shelves near your front entry or in the mudroom
  • Buy a cordless vacuum and keep it charged and close by for quick clean ups
Spring maintenance for homeowners

Spring maintenance for homeowners

Spring has officially arrived! As a homeowner, the arrival of each new season usually brings with it a few maintenance chores that will need to be tackled, so wait for a nice, sunny day and check these jobs off your to-do list!

1. Repaint windows, siding and doors if needed. While wood will always be a popular material in home building, unfortunately it does require regular maintenance to keep it looking its best and realizing its life span. As with any job, take the time to gather the proper materials before getting started – it will make things run smoothly. Scrape away old, chipped or peeling paint from window and door frames and wood siding. Sand if necessary and finish by pressure washing on a low setting. Prime and paint as needed with a good quality exterior paint.

2. Organize the garage. After a long winter, your garage may have become a drop-zone for gardening supplies, sporting equipment, toys, broken items, etc. Enlist the help of kids to help create piles, including one for items to throw out, one for items to sell and a third for items to keep. If storage is an issue, assemble some heavy duty shelving or hooks. If your garage floor has seen better days, consider sealing and painting the floor for a tidy, clean look that will also extend its lifespan.

3. It’s likely been a few months since your air conditioner saw the light of day, so remove the cover on your outdoor unit, shut off the power and give it a good cleaning, removing any dust and debris. Inside the house, you’ll want to change the air filter and check for any leaks in the ductwork. Almost every HVAC company offers maintenance packages, so if you’re not up to the challenge or just don’t have time, schedule an appointment with a professional. Proper A/C maintenance will extend the life of your cooling unit and keep your energy bills down all summer long!

4. Clean or pressure wash deck. Canadians certainly spend as much time as possible during the summer months enjoying their outdoor spaces, so start off the season with a fresh slate! Take great care when pressure washing soft wood surfaces – one would rarely need more than 1500 psi to complete this task – any more can damage the wood. You can skip the pressure washer and buy a good quality wood cleaner and use some good, old-fashioned elbow grease to get your deck gleaming for the season ahead!

Should you renovate or move?

Should you renovate or move?

The spring real estate market is upon us and in many cities and communities across the GTA, inventory is low and prices are high. With tales swirling of homes selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over listing price and bidding wars becoming the norm, you might be wondering if the time is right to purchase a new home.

Since there is no easy answer, some homeowners may decide to wait for a more stable market in which to sell and buy a new home. If you do decide to wait but are craving a change, take this time to tackle a home renovation! You can increase the value of your current home – always a good thing – create more square footage for your family and possibly position yourself better for a quick sale down the road.

Getting a high return on your investment is on most homeowners’ minds when planning a home renovation project. Kitchen and bathroom remodels almost always increase the value of a home. Any project that adds additional living space to your home will likely be a smart investment, including finishing the basement or attic space or building on an addition. As with any major project, getting the right permits and hiring a reputable contractor is key.

There are also dozens of projects you can take on around the home that will make it more enjoyable for your family for the time being and make it more appealing to prospective buyers when the time to sell does come. Exterior upgrades are becoming very popular amongst Canadian homeowners, with many families spending big bucks on landscaping projects, including new decks, fencing and driveways. With the price of cottages on the rise, outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in Canada as well, as many homeowners aim to create the perfect “staycation” space in their own backyard.

Another goal of many home renovators is energy saving. Replacing your home’s windows or roof and beefing up insulation might not be the most exciting way to spend your reno dollars, but it will help you save big time on monthly energy costs while increasing the value of your home.

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