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What perfect timing for the weather to change! With the kids home for March Break, you can send them outside now to play. That’s a far cry better than having them underfoot whining that they are bored every five minutes. If you are anything like me, you will want to be out there with them attempting to soak up the warmth and any scraps of sunshine that can be stolen. It is amazing how pasty our sun-deprived Canadian bodies can get over the course of a winter! No matter, there  are lots of little jobs that can be tackled outdoors this week now that the freezing days of winter have finally fled (at least for now hopefully!). What do you have on your to-do list this spring? Why not think about crossing a few of these seasonal projects off your list;

EARLY SPRING PROJECTS AROUND THE HOUSE

  • When the mercury rises above zero, and stays that way, you can think about turning the water back on for your outside taps. Uncoil your hoses from storage and make sure that there was no winter damage to anything. Check your connections and replace washers as necessary. Note that now is the time to replace old or broken nozzles to begin the season on the right foot.
  • Pulling the hose out might have you in mind of giving your weather-beaten vehicle a bit of a bath. It certainly deserves to have some of the winter road grime washed away. While you are at it, why not grab the vacuum and give your ride a good once over inside and out. Vacuum the carpets, wipe down the dash and erase the layer of dust from your windows. You will feel like you are driving a brand new vehicle when you step into your new clean car!
  • As I have faith that snow storms are gone for the season, I remind you that you can also think about taking the snow tires off of your sparkling new vehicle. Positive thoughts breed positive reactions, so bring on your summer wheels!
  • For all the grime that has been washed off your vehicle’s windows, there is even more of it on your home’s windows. It might feel like a dirty job, but after washing the windows in your house, you will be amazed at how much more light will filter into your home. If you want to tackle the job of cleaning your windows in an environmentally friendly way, try this natural cleaning product;
    • 2 Cups water
    • 1/4 Cup white vinegar
    • 1/2 Teaspoon liquid dish soap
      • Put ingredients in a labelled spray bottle & spritz away! While paper towels work to wipe, newspaper won’t leave lint behind like towels sometimes do. Another options is microfibre cloths, but the squeegee is probably your best environmental choice. FYI: The soap will help prevent streaking
  • After all that work, you probably just want to sit and absorb some of the Spring sun. There is one more task you will have to tackle before you can relax though and that is pulling out your patio furniture that you stored away in the Fall. Give your chairs a once over to remove any dirt and dust that accumulated over the course of the winter. The solution above will do the trick here as well! Now sit back, relax and relish the return of the sun!

 

What a glorious weekend we had! Can you get better weather than that for mid-October? No way! With weather like that, it seems almost mandatory to get outside. I certainly did. While many of you may have taken to the woods to soak up some of those warm temperatures, I bet there were a few more who took the opportunity to get out into the garden. Yes, despite the summer-like temperatures during the day, the mercury still drops at night to remind us that it is Autumn and winter is on the way whether we like it or not. Now is the time to harvest the last of your crops and put the garden to bed though.

So what exactly does putting your garden to bed mean? Well, with snow around the corner, all those lovely green plants will soon be brown and shriveled or simply buried under a blanket of white. Before that happens, there are a few things you can do to get a head start on your Spring garden. If you are a new homeowner and are beginning to quake in your boots, don’t fret. It might sound daunting, but it really just involves getting your hands a little dirty and providing some haircuts all around. While there are lots of tasks that you can attack, today I present an even dozen to keep you outside for a while longer this Fall.

 

FALL MAINTENANCE FOR YOUR YARD

  • PLANT SPRING BULBS – now is the time to plant daffodils, crocuses, and lilies for a beautiful display after the months of drab white and brown
  • PLANT GARLIC – while you are at it, plant some garlic heads to keep you healthy all year through
  • DIG UP SUMMER BULBS – summer bulbs such as dahlias, canna lilies or gladioli will not withstand our Canadian winters, so if you want to enjoy them again next summer dig them up now and store them in a cool dark place for the winter

Image Originally located http://bit.ly/mYPx3b

  • CLEAN UP SUMMER ANNUALS & PERENNIALS – while a few clumps of sedum, astilbes or ornamental grasses add winter interest to a garden, leaving a mass of  dead plants til the spring just leaves you with a mess to worry about later. Get it done now!
  • DIVIDE PERENNIALS – if your hostas are huge or your phlox meanders too far afield, now is the time to divide these plants. Always use a sharp, clean blade to divide your perennials. Dividing them now means that you will have healthy plants next summer and twice as many of them!
  • RAKE LEAVES – like I need to tell you about this obvious task. Instead of bagging them all to the curb though, why not use them for mulch around your rose bushes, newly planted perennials and under bushes. Its called compost and its Free!
  • DETHATCH YOUR LAWN – while you are out there with the rake, work on dethatching your lawn. For seriously compacted lawns, aeration may be in order.
  • FERTILIZE YOUR LAWN – winter fertilizer applied in the fall will help you to see a stronger, healthier lawn next year with a few less weeds
  • RAISE THE LEVEL OF YOUR MOWER – for the last mow of the season, raise your mower blade by 1/2″. Once you are done, drain the gas from your mower and say goodbye to grass cutting for another year
  • CLEAN SHARPEN AND PUT AWAY GARDEN TOOLS – when the gardening is done, make sure that you clean your tools before you put them to bed as well. Dirty tools will spread unwanted disease to tender plants in the Spring.
  • TURN OFF THE WATER – when your plants are snug, the tools are put away and your trees and shrubs have had enough water to last them through the winter, turn your outdoor taps off. This will prevent freezing in your hose, as well as in the spigot
  • COVER YOUR AIR CONDITIONER – you won’t be needing your a/c unit for several months to come, so now is the time to give it a quick once over, then tuck a cover on it. This prevents leaves and moisture from getting into the unit and causing damages down the road

 

And that my friends, are some easy tasks around the yard to keep you outside and enjoying this glorious weather just a little bit longer. Happy Gardening!

Laundry day again. This time of year, outdoor lines are seeing a little less action, what with the frequent rains we have been  seeing , as well as the fewer hours of daylight to dry your clothes with out-of-doors. That means that the dryer in your laundry room is put through its paces once again. While most people realize that they have to clean the interior dryer vent after every load, what you might not realize is that you should also clean the vent tube that exhausts to the outside world at least every six months. Dryer vent fires are a serious threat and are linked to over 12,000 fires every year in the US. Those are pretty sobering statistics. If this is a revelation for you, then perhaps you should read on for some simple tips on how to clean your dryer vent. It will save you money and possibly even your life, so add it to the list of your seasonal maintenance tasks around the house.

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR DRYER VENT

Step One:

The first thing you should do is to unplug the dryer, be it electric or gas. If it is a gas dryer, it is also a good idea to shut off the gas as well.

Step Two:

Once the dryer has been unplugged, pull it away from the wall about one to two feet (~500cm). With a screwdriver, gently loosen the vent clamp at the back of the dryer and slide the vent off of the dryer.

Step Three:

You might want to put on gloves at this point, as now is when you will get dirty. With your hand, remove any lint from inside the dryer, as well as from inside the vent tube. If you are not partial to the dirty fingernails that will ensue, grab the shop vac and let it do the dirty work for you. With care, you can use it to suck the lint from both the dryer and the vent tube.

Step Four:

Once the dryer and vent tube have been cleaned of lint, reattach the tube to the dryer. Slide the clamp back in place, making sure to tighten it, before pushing your dryer back into place.

Step Five:

Head outside to the exterior vent cover. Carefully pull the cover off. If there is caulking surrounding it, scrape it away and discard the old caulking. Now you can gently pull the cover with attached foot-long tube out and proceed to remove any lint in the tube or hole. If your arm or vacuum aren’t sufficient to reach all the lint, a bent clothes hanger will do the trick. Once all the lint has been removed, slide the tube back into place.

Step Six:

Turn the gas back on and plug your dryer in. Run the dryer for a few minutes to make sure that there are no further obstructions and air flow is back to normal. Now grab your dirty clothes and get laundering!


One last thing, before I let you get to the task at hand. While you are in the laundry room, look at the actual vent tube that is installed. If you see a ridged plastic or foil tube, then perhaps you might want to consider replacing it. If you have a straight rigid metal vent tube, then good for you! Rigid tubes have less bends and pockets for lint to collect in. They are also less prone to getting crushed, which also reduces air flow in your dryer. Never fear though, if after reading this seasonal tip, you are feeling a little inadequate in the DIY department. Knowledge is half the battle. The other half is knowing when to call in a professional. They do it for a living and you can be glad to know that you will be saving money regardless. A clean dryer uses less energy to dry your clothes, in a shorter time period.

Hey,  that means I just saved you some time too! All in a days work in your neighbourhood.

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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