Perfect summer DIY projects

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 30, 2014

It happens every year: Summer seems to last forever, but then the end comes quickly enough to take everyone by surprise. Soon those last few dog days of summer will be upon us, and there will likely be half a dozen (or dozens?) of chores you haven't gotten to yet. Now is the time!

To help you get motivated, here are several DIY project ideas. They are in order from easiest to toughest, so you can choose depending upon your particular brand of summer laziness. Grab that sunscreen and let's get started!

Clean up that yard

After a long summer of fun, your backyard is probably looking a little drab. Go beyond picking up the toys and rolling up the hoses. Now is the time to do the heavy work. Those pavers need straightening, the shrubs need mulching, and the fencerow needs a serious cleanup before winter rolls around. Take a few days and clean up your place as though you were going to put it on the market. A major cleanup now makes fall and winter chores easier to handle.

A new place to store your stuff

If you have a garage, chances are there are boxes and bins and stuff piled into every available corner. In fact, your garage might not even have room for your car. Remedy that situation with a stylish and functional storage solution. It is best to do this now, before the holidays roll around and bring lots of new stuff with them.

Your storage solution could be as easy as a three-bin solution: One bin for things that must be stored, one bin for things that need to be moved elsewhere, and one bin for donation to charity. Or it might be as complex as a rack system installed on the ceiling and walls of the garage to create space for all those bins of stuff you choose to keep. Either way, it's going to be hot and sweaty work, so set up a fan in the garage and have plenty of water handy.

Get the house ready for winter

Sure, it's summer right now -- but soon the fall will come, along with fallen leaves. Then winter hits, and you inevitably have a dozen things that still need doing. Get ahead of the curve this year by focusing on the jobs you hate the most. For instance, does the thought of cleaning out the gutters make you cringe? Now is the time to install gutter guards so that the leaves don't clog things up and you don't dangle from a ladder in the coming months.

You could also make use of these last warm days by calling in an expert to inspect your furnace and chimney; get it done now, before all the contractors get too busy. Inspect your attic insulation to help ensure ice dams don't form this winter, and scan your roof closely with binoculars to catch any damage from those late-summer storms. When the growing season is over, flush out your irrigation system. Take the time now to prepare winter-use items, such as snowblowers and snow shovels, for the days when summer is a distant memory.

Cash in vacation days for that one lingering project

Got something that you have needed to do forever? Been putting it off until you actually feel guilty? The truth is, many of us would love to have a new bathroom floor or install that new dishwasher, but we just don't want to give up an entire Saturday (or more!) to do it. But that's why we have vacation days!

Of course you want to use those days for something fun. But if you have vacation days that are going to vanish if you don't use them, why not put them to work by installing the new ice maker, refacing your kitchen cabinets or getting that awesome new surround sound system working? Choose a major project you can do inside, where you can take advantage of the air conditioning. Plan it out very carefully so that you have all necessary items on hand, and remember that most projects wind up taking more time than you had planned -- so if you think it will take two days, take three days off just to be safe.

If you start right now, you can get a great deal done through the dog days of summer. When the leaves turn and Old Man Winter comes knocking, you can rest assured that your summer was well-spent, and your home is much better for it.

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.