Summer Checklist: Small projects that pay off


Sunken stones that have been overgrown by grass are not a pleasant sight. You can reset them by removing the grass from the edges with a string trimmer. To remove the turf from the edges, use a trowel or knife to trim it. Next, place the bent end of the prybar under each stone’s edges and lift it up. You can fill the entire recess with stone dust and then hand-tamp the surface. The stone should now be flat on its side. Add or remove stone dust to make it steady underfoot.

Get rid of ants with new patio joints

Ants love digging through mason sand in patio-paver joints. You can stop them digging by filling the joints with polymericsand. This silica-polymer mixture hardens when wet. You can ant-proof an existing patio by blasting old sand from the joints with a pressure washer and then sweep it away. After the patio has dried completely and there is no rain forecast, sweep polymeric sand over the joints using a broom. Make sure there are no particles on the faces of pavers. Lightly water the joints to activate the polymer.

Protect the bottom of your door

Is the base of your front doors taken a beating by months of rain? A rustproof metal bootplate will give it protection and style. Sizes should be 2 inches shorter than the door’s width, and no higher than the bottom rail’s. These plates can be attached using magnets or adhesive strips, but screws, ideally small stainless-steel-truss-heads, will last longer.

Chimney sweeps available

“A chimney flue or woodstovepipe should be cleaned of flammable creosote buildup at minimum once per year.” It is a good idea to call a chimney sweeper before the fall rushes.

Japanese Maples: Shape up

When maple trees are cut in spring, they “bleed” copious amounts sap. This is why maple syrup is made from sugar maples at this time of the year. However, severe sap loss in mature Japanese maples can reduce tree vigor. Wait until summer to trim errant branches. It is important to have layers that are not touching one another, but they should be overlapping. To prevent sun scalding, you should not remove more than 25% of any one branch’s foliage at once. Also, keep the temperature below 80 degrees F.

How to get an even green in your yard

This trick will ensure that your lawn is evenly colored when you apply lawn fertilizer this summer. Take note of the recommended fertilizer rate for your spreader and reduce the setting by half. Apply the fertilizer in the normal way. This is done by moving back and forth between the two ends of the yard. After you have covered the entire yard with fertilizer, continue to apply it in the same way, but this time, perpendicularly to your previous direction. This crisscross method will still feed your grass at the recommended rate and will ensure that you have a clean lawn.

Lower Basement Humidity

A damp basement can lead to funky smells, soggy paper, and rusty equipment. A certified Energy Star dehumidifier will keep humidity levels between 30 and 50%. In basements up to 1200 square feet, where humidity ranges from 70 to 80 percent, a 55-pint-per hour model will be effective. For larger basements, you can add additional units and make sure to empty them frequently. A large fan or two can be run simultaneously to circulate dry air and prevent damp, stagnant, air from building up in corners.

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