Get your home in shape with these indoor and outdoor projects to do in an hour, over a weekend or longer-term
Check safety devices. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested at least once a month and replaced every 10 years, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors by pressing the test button; replace batteries as needed. Also, take a moment to check the expiration date on any fire extinguishers in the house and replace them if needed.
Launder soft furnishings. Keep your textiles looking fresh by laundering slipcovers, shower curtains, cushion covers and curtains, or sending them out for dry cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Keep upholstery and Roman blinds looking their best by vacuuming them regularly using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. Have large area rugs and carpets professionally cleaned, or rent a carpet cleaner and do it yourself.
Test irrigation systems. A sprinkler or irrigation hose that has a blockage or leak can quickly cause major problems for your lawn and garden. Test your sprinklers and irrigation system at the beginning of the season, and again before leaving on any trips. Tired of trying to keep the lawn green all summer? Planting a low-maintenance lawn alternative can be a smart move, especially in regions with dry summers like California.
Add shade to outdoor spaces. Having enough shade in the backyard can make the difference between an appealing outdoor space and one you avoid when the sun is high. Add freestanding umbrellas for portable shade around outdoor seating and dining areas, or install a shade sail (as shown here) for a more permanent shady spot.
Keep mosquitoes at bay. Mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed — but it’s not just ponds and puddles that cause problems. As Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, entomologist at the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, reported to Houzz, even something as small as a soda cap filled with water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. To stay ahead of the problem, walk around your property twice a week and dump out any water that has collected, including bird baths (feel free to refill with fresh water), flower pots and saucers, children’s toys, tarps, patio furniture and anywhere else water collects.