So, last Saturday I didn’t have the motivation to get started on the obvious things that needed attention on the exterior of my house. After all, I was still basking in the thanks of my lovely wife who recognized the really great job I did the previous weekend when I cleaned the garage floor after the long winter.
The fact that I didn’t want to tackle a “new project,” didn’t mean that I wasn’t aware of what needed to be done. That’s an important point in the inevitable upcoming conversation in which I’ll hear, “You don’t have a clue what needs to be done around here.”
As I strolled around my home, I was categorizing the big dollar items on one side of my brain and the easy, “quick hits” on the other. After all, they count as things that have gotten done without the entire weekend being burned up. Better yet, they probably won’t cost a lot of money.
Here are 5 easy and inexpensive projects that can make a big difference:
- Fertilize the lawn. This will help to bring rich deep green color into the lawn. A decent bag of organic fertilizer (recommended by my landscape guy) will set me back about $30. The work itself (including a trip to the garden center) shouldn't take more than a couple of hours. Tip: Be sure to keep the fertilizer granules off the concrete if it has iron in it to avoid rust stains on the walks and driveway.
- Wash the windows. Admittedly, this is one thing I don’t do often. Luckily, you don’t have to do all of them at once and you can make this project last. You may need a window washing product which can be as simple as ammonia and water or as complicated as a hose attachment to wash concentrate. Of course, this may require another trip to the home supply store, getting ladders out, finding cloths or paper towels to dry the windows. To wash about 6 windows, expect about an hour’s work and around $12.
- Plant annuals. Planting annuals in your landscape or in a porch pot certainly brings a good punch of color to the front of your home. This project (and you may see a pattern here) requires the trip to the garden center to find suitable plants and possibly a container. Depending on the quantity of plants you are planning to purchase and if you need a planter, this project could run from $25-$100. Be careful, you may not get to complete this project on your own. You may have plenty of “supervision” or outright “take over” of the project by a spouse. The time taken to complete the project “count” for you even if you don’t get to do the work. Plan on at least an hour.
- Trim shrubs and perennials. After a long winter and emerging new growth, those landscape perennials and shrubs may need some pruning and trimming. A good example is to cut out all of the dead wood from roses and shrubs as well as last year’s dead stems from perennials. A good hand clipper capable of cutting through sturdy rose stems and overgrown perennials could cost $25-$30. The only other things you might need would be plenty of large bags for the trash and a good pair of gloves to protect your hands. That’s another $15. Trimming shrubs and perennials can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
- Edge the lawn. Now here’s something that will set your lawn apart from your neighbors. Remember the “Joneses” live next door. You can get a step ahead in the annual contest of who’s lawn looks best by edging your lawn along sidewalks and driveways. You could use a shovel or hand edger to make the cleanup or more sophisticated and expensive tools like electric or gas-powered edgers. A shovel or hand edger will run in the neighborhood of $25. Electric and gas-powered edgers can be found in the $50-$150 range. Edging the lawn can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending upon the amount of concrete adjoining your lawn. Oh, don’t forget the time it will take to get gas or to find the extension cord.
The summer is a great time to take pride in the appearance of your home. As you return from one of those evening walks through the neighborhood, it’s a pretty good feeling to see your yard in the distance and be able to say, “Now that’s a great looking home.”