We are still in the dog days of summer, so let’s keep enjoying our time outside!
Wait, before we discuss the August Home Maintenance list of to-do’s, let’s talk about what are the “Dog days of Summer”? For 2021, the dog days of summer included July 3rd through August 11th. I always assumed that this phrase had something to do with the weather being hot, and while this is a part of the meaning it isn’t the entirety of it. The phrase is actually a reference to the fact that during this time frame, the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest start visible from any part of the Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star. During the dog days of summer, Sirius rises and sets with the sun. And since the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat, they decided it added to the sun’s warmth accounting for the stretch of hot weather. We now know that Sirius doesn’t produce heat, and that this stretch of what is usually hot weather is a result of the tilt of the Earth causing the Sun’s rays to hit at a more direct angle for a longer period of time. Interesting…right!
Now, let’s get back to our August Home Maintenance list of to-do’s to get accomplished around the house this month. We are focusing on enjoying the garden and preparing the exterior of the home for fall.
Keeping your Vegetable and Flower Gardens Looking Good
Since these dog days bring so much heat, make sure to keep everything watered. Think about watering in the morning so that plants have the best opportunity to quench their thirst.
Make sure to pull weeds before they seed. This will keep your gardens looking good for the remainder of the year but will help to prevent havoc for spring as well. You also want to deadhead annuals, roses and perennials. Removing these spent flowers will also keep things looking cleaned up, and some plants might reward you with more blooms.
Inspect plants for diseases. The heat and humidity can bring many types of pests and diseases. If you see affected foliage make sure to remove it and dispose of it in the garbage not the compost pile.
Keep up with the harvesting of your fruits and vegetables. Failure to grab the ripe produce can slow down plant production and can invite unwanted pests.
Add layers of mulch to spots that it has drifted away. The mulch helps to keep weeds at a minimum and watering amounts down.
This is also the time of year to think about ordering spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips so that they are ready to plant in fall. Make sure to wait to plant them until the soil temperatures are below 60 F. It is also a great time to start seeds for fall crops of spinach, lettuce and greens.
Repair Fences and Gates
Let’s look at our next item on our August home maintenance to-do list. Take some time to walk around any areas of your property with fences. Make sure there are no areas that need repair especially if you use the fence to keep in animals or children. It is also good to make sure that gates are in working condition.
Manage Flying Pests
The dog days of summer can bring with them flying pests. Often times we find the end of summer can be the most active time for mosquitoes. To keep mosquitoes away, make sure there are not sources of standing or stagnant water around your home. Consider adding citronella candles, bug zappers or mosquito traps to your outdoor spaces. This is also a time of year when the wasps are more aggressive. Make sure to scan your yard for nests and treat them as soon as possible.
Clean and Check the Gutters
We often think that this is something to worry about once the leaves start to fall. But summer storms can also deposit all sorts of debris in your gutters. Cleaning out gutters now will ensure that a buildup from falling leaves is less likely to cause a problem.
Inspect your Roof
It’s a good time of year to check the condition of your roof. The summer storms we just mentioned above can really put your roof to the test especially if it is older. If you can handle heights, grab a ladder and perform the inspection. If you would rather stay on the ground, grab a pair of binoculars to help you with the inspection. Look for curled and missing shingles, rusted and pitted flashing. Also look for cracking in the caulk or rubber around pipe collars, skylights and other items that breach your roofs surface.
Clean and Inspect the Exterior of your Home
Take some time to pressure wash the outside of your home. You want to make sure to get any mold or mildew that could have popped up washed away. You are also going to want to check for any damage. If you have wooden exteriors make sure that there are no chips in the paint. Exposed wood can lead to rotting. For homes with Vinyl siding, you will want to replace or caulk any cracks or holes so that pests can’t get behind the siding. For a brick or stone home you will want to inspect the mortar.
It is important to keep trees trimmed to protect your house from critters and prevent storm damage. Fall is a good time to think about this so you can be ready for the winter weather. Keep branches 5 to 7 feet away from your house so they can’t conduct moisture onto your roofing and siding. Trim dead limbs as well, to prevent them falling unexpectedly and to keep your landscaping looking clean. This will also keep squirrels and raccoons from having easy access to your home.
When trimming back trees, always use clean landscaping trimmers and cutters to prevent the spread of plant diseases. Make sure that your tools are sharp to prevent tearing the bark. When finished clean off blades with bleach and thoroughly dry the cutting surface.
While it is important to trim back the trees, remember to not trim shrubs after mid-August.
Clean Outdoor Stone Surfaces
August is a good time to clean natural stone patios and walkways. Over the summer these surfaces will naturally accumulate grime and dirt. Wipe any dust or debris from the stone, and clean the surface using a gentle, neutral-pH cleaner and soft cloth. You might also want to consider applying a coat of water-based penetrating sealer to protect from additional stains over the fall and winter.
Keeping up with home maintenance regularly, adds to the value of your home and makes preparing for selling your home easier. Whether you are looking to sell in the next few months or living in your home forever, make sure to show your home some love and care.
Do you have more questions about any of these August Home Maintenance To-Do Items or how they affect the value of your home? Give the Emmily Longenecker Team a call at 717-450-7090, we are always available to answer your questions.