The Portsmouth Project Post #3

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Summer cleaning helps get you ahead of the games this fall.

We all know Spring cleaning has been popular for a long time. It just makes sense. Winter’s harsh elements take their toll on our yards and home and we need to give everything a fresh start. Come August, prepping for Winter is still a couple months away, so right now is the perfect time to get a jump on some outdoor cleaning.

Over the years, I’ve honed my yearly home/yard maintenance schedule and cleaning techniques to maximize beauty, time, efficiency and money. Several factors have weighed into my summer cleaning routing such as school quickly approaching, football season practically being here, taking advantage of great weather and kids sports activities that typically pick up in August.

I’ve come up with a checklist of my seven key cleaning tasks outside your home that will be sure to give your family more time heading into the fall. In some cases these tips will save you money in the short term with most helping save money and resources over the long term. I’ve also called out environmentally friendly practices associated with these tasks and finished with an earth friendly cleaning solution personally endorsed by me. Let’s get to work…

1. Gutters – I know, I hate to clean them too, but it could be one of the best uses of your time since clogged gutters can lead directly to home damage and end up costing you thousands of dollars and future headaches. Start by removing all the debris you can by hand. There are a variety of tools out there to help make the process a little easier. I’ve found a cool scoop that fits very well into the gutter. It came with a long pole with an end piece that fits the various nooks and crannies of the gutter. Be sure to remove all shingle grit and dirt and don’t forget about cleaning the downspouts. Finish by hosing the gutters down until they are completely clean and water flows with no obstructions. Clogged gutters lead directly to water and ice backing up under the shingles and causing major damage.

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2. Dead Trees, Branches and Sticks – This is one of my favorite chores. Living in Bella Vista on a heavily treed lot, we produce wood like it’s growing on trees. Ice storm damage falls prey to strong Summer storms and branches and sticks start to litter yards. Dead trees pose a problem for heavy ice and snow in the upcoming winter so it is a good idea to get them down as well. I approach wood like an American Indian and utilize everything my yard produces. Small sticks and branches are harvested for kindling and large branches and logs are burned for warmth in the fireplace. Wood that is not good for fireplace burning is usually reserved for camping firewood, saving additional money and unnecessary stripping of campsites.

3. Tools – One time my wife made fun of me when she saw me washing off the lawn mower when I was through mowing the yard. She has since changed her mind after realizing how much we have saved by taking care of the things we already have. Mowers, weed wackers, shovels, pruners, etc. all need to be washed clean of dirt and dried before storing. Some tools like sheers and pruners should also be periodically lubricated to keep them in good working order. Clean tools last longer and make the work easier and safer.

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4. Deck and Fence – Timing is the main driver here. The summer months are dry and warm enough for deck and fence stains to be applied without having to look over your shoulder for storms or pollen. Decks and fences should be checked for loose screws and nails. Drive these back in to avoid accidents. This is also a good opportunity to check the voids for wasps and their nests. By this time they have reproduced so you can take out the whole nest and feel satisfied that your upcoming Labor day festivities will be pest free.

5. Lawn and Planting Beds – You’ve already cleaned up limbs and sticks, but there is still plenty to do. Take care of late summer weeds that have started to invade the yard. Remove grass that has started to grow into planting beds. Run through the planting beds  and remove all weeds and any dead foliage. It’s also a good time to refresh mulch. If there has been no rain for a while, a good deep watering followed by some periodic waterings will help keep the yard and plants looking great to finish out the summer.

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6. Air Conditioning Unit – One easy and very important cleaning tip to keep your air conditioner running strong in the summer is to clean the outside unit. The evaporator coils collect dust and dirt and can’t effectively radiate heat, thus the air conditioner struggles. Air conditioner plus struggles equals less money in your pocket. To clean the coils, spray them down with water from the hose. The coils are very delicate and care must be taken when performing this task. To much pressure can damage the coil fins. Clean dirt and debris away from under the unit and trim back any plantings at least two feet.

7. Grill – Now this final one is a touchy subject with me. I very rarely clean my grill. I’m a trained, professional, Texas born and bred grill master and will not be questioned on my tactics. Seriously though, a clean grill cooks more efficiently and is “suppose” to make the food taste better. Be sure to clean grates with warm soapy water, clean out ash and brush away all residue. For easier regular cleaning lightly coat the grates with oil before each grilling session and simply clean the grill more often.

And that’s it. Not only will you not have plenty of time to watch football, you’ll immediately reap the rewards as family and neighbors have surely noticed your haste and just might send some compliments your way. Think of it as a mini-makeover for the yard. I wanted to finish this post with a recipe for an environmentally friendly cleaning solution that I use outside. As you go down your checklist of chores you’ll encounter a patio chair, grill cover or toy that needs a little more attention than a stream of water. A solution of 1 cup of baking soda to 1 gallon of warm water mixed with some good old fashioned elbow grease should do the trick. Go Hogs!

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One Comment on “The Portsmouth Project Post #3”

  1. applefritter Says:

    nice foliage! thanks for sharing.


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