The Garage Plan Shop made a New Year’s resolution to enjoy the great outdoors in 2014, and we invited you to do the same. In January we posted a list of ideas for fun and interesting things to do outdoors. Below is another list of ideas to help you renew your commitment to getting outside and enjoying everything around you.
- Catch lightning bugs with your kids on a summer night.
- Take your kids for a nighttime walk around your neighborhood with flashlights.
- Visit local outdoor attractions such as the zoo, a botanical garden, or a natural area.
- Visit a local park you haven’t been to before.
- Plan a road trip and stop at national monuments, historic sites and other points of interest along the way.
- Visit a Civil War battle field.
- Drive one of America’s scenic highways or byways.
- Visit a nearby park several times throughout the year and observe how it changes as the seasons change.
- Learn to identify native trees, flowers and shrubs.
- Learn to identify native birds and those that migrate and only visit your area seasonally.
- Plan a weekend camping trip with your kids or friends to a new campground.
- Schedule a weekly outing with other friends and take your kids to the park for a picnic and to play on the playground.
- Fly a kite.
- Stargaze on a clear night and learn to identify some of the constellations.
- Take a boating safety class.
- Take a class to learn about a new outdoor recreational activity like rock climbing, archery or scuba diving.
- Take your kids apple picking, strawberry picking, to the pumpkin patch, etc.
- Take in Mother Nature’s display of fall colors in a city, state, or town you’ve never visited.
- Enjoy winter sports with your kids like skiing, sledding and ice skating.
- Take your kids horseback riding.
- Hike a new trail once a month.
- Teach a child about an outdoor sport you love.
- Participate in a charity event or fundraiser such as a walk or fun run.
- Get involved in a neighborhood beautification project such as picking up litter along roadways or planting flowers at a community garden.
The birds are chirping. The days grow longer. The sun seems warmer. It must be spring. No more hesitation. It is time to get outside and prepare your lawn for the hot days of summer. Below are a few hints to help you get started:
1. Rake – Using a lawn sweeper or a good old fashioned rake, remove accumulated debris like sticks, leaves and litter. Raking also helps to remove dead weeds and grass. Thick lawns may require a dethatcher.
2. Aerate – You can aerate the ground by poking holes with a garden fork. This is especially critical if you have heavy clay soil. This will allow water and fertilizer to saturate the soil giving your lawn a jump start.
3. Fertilize – This replenishes the food reserves that the plants use up in the winter months. Apply an organic fertilizer or compost tea. This is accomplished by soaking compost in water then spraying the liquid on the lawn.
4. Weed – By using a pre-emergent weed killer, you give the grass a chance to grow tall and strong without competition from weeds.
5. Reseed – Reseed bare areas. Over-seed the entire lawn if it appears patchy or thin.
6. Mow – As soon as the grass is growing it is time to start mowing. Sharpen up your blade as a dull one causes brown dried out edges on the grass. Also it will tear out new growth. Don’t cut it too short. It is better to mow more often than too short. Keeping the lawn at a proper height, 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall allows the roots to fully develop.
The Garage Plan Shop is making a New Year’s resolution to enjoy the great outdoors in 2014, and we invite you to join us. Whether you never go outside for fun and enjoyment, or you take an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors every chance you get, we are certain you can find a few things on our list that you’ll enjoy doing outside throughout 2014. Our world is full of exciting places to see and fun things to do that are centered on outdoor activity. You can find them anywhere from your own backyard and neighborhood to neighboring states and all the way across the country. Below is just a sampling of the things we hope your do this year to enjoy the great outdoors:
- Plant a garden this spring/summer (flower or vegetable) and cultivate it throughout the growing season.
- Teach a child to play baseball, soccer, freeze tag or another childhood game in your backyard.
- Visit a state park.
- Visit a national park.
- Plan a road trip to another climate zone or geographic region and explore how it is different from where you live.
- Take a float trip down one of our country’s scenic rivers.
- Go camping with your kids and show them how to roast marshmallows or make S’mores.
- Ride your bike on a bike path you’ve never been to before.
- Enjoy more outdoor meals. Grill and dine outside with your family on the porch or deck.
- Take up outdoor photography.
- Try going birding at a nearby park, wetland, nature area or conservation center.
- Go boating with friends and/or family.
- Share your knowledge about hunting or fishing with a child and take him or her on an outing to experience your love of the sport.
- Try something you’ve never done like backpacking, wind surfing, or snow skiing.
- Visit another state and learn to identify unfamiliar wildlife, trees, flowers and other natural elements.
- Spend a weekend afternoon at a winery.
- On workdays, pack your lunch and eat outside instead of going to the lunch room/cafeteria.
- Spend an afternoon walking around a historic or quiet country town.
- Host a backyard barbecue for family, friends and neighbors.
- Volunteer to help at an organized event to clean up local streams, lakes or hiking trails.
This list is just the beginning of all the fun activities you can do outdoors by yourself or with your kids, neighbors, friends and co-workers. We are sure you’ll think of many more things you might like to do outside. So join us in 2014 and make an effort to spend more time outside and enjoy the great outdoors!
The holidays are an exciting but hectic time of year. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season override the safety of your family and guests. Prepare your home ahead of time and embrace the holiday cheer. Below are some tips to help you:
- Light the Way – Welcome your guests and reduce the risk of falls with bright outdoor lighting on steps and walkways. Help overnight visitors find their way around your house with ample use of nightlights or flashlights if need be. Avoid the use of candles especially around children. The addition of holiday lights and decorations bring the hazard of extension cords. Make sure that they do not cross the floor where anyone might be walking and do not cover them with rugs.
- Watch the Pot – Unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires. Entertaining can pull you away from the kitchen, so designate a pot watcher who can also keep the little ones from underfoot and away from the heat.
- Mind the Fire – Of course it is so cozy to fire up the fireplace, but do so only if someone can stay in that room to mind it. Of course you will want to follow all the rules of fireplace safety, like having the chimney cleaned and inspected. Don’t allow anyone to throw paper plates or wrapping paper on the fire. Make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Childproof – Even if you already have children in the house, prepare for visiting children who may not know or follow your rules. Lock up any potential poisons like cleaners and medications and don’t forget that some plants can be poisonous also. Be mindful that toddlers are fascinated by holiday decorations that could hurt or burn them. Keep an eye out for choking hazards like small toy parts, leftover foods, alcohol, and cigarette butts.
- Senior-proof – Eliminate tripping hazards like throw rugs and hallway runners. Be wary of what an older person might touch to steady themselves, and remove items that teeter or roll. Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and consider installing grab bars in the shower if they will have an extended stay.
- Pet-proof – You may already know what not to feed your pets, but your guests may not. To be safe, remind them to avoid feeding pets any “people food,” including coffee, alcohol, and candy. Be aware of new hazards like glass ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, plants, and chemicals in the tree water. Pets may need to be isolated in another part of the house, if the excitement of company is too much for them.
Keeping these tips in mind, we wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!
Getting your house ready for winter begins as the leaves begin to fall. Inspecting your home and performing routine maintenance now can prevent costly repairs later. Below is a suggested checklist of home maintenance tips you can use this fall:
Gutters – Keeping gutters and downspouts clear of debris prevents them from backing up and damaging roofing especially when cold temperatures cause freezing. Water running behind the gutters can cause problems with rotting, pest infestations, foundation damage and wet basements, so repair or replace gutter hangers and brackets if needed. Check where the water drains to make sure it isn’t collecting in a place that will be damaged or dangerous when frozen.
Chimneys – Make sure the flue is operating properly and the chimney gets cleaned properly if you plan to fire up that fireplace this winter. Also, inspect outside to determine if any tuckpointing or flashing needs attention. If you use a chimney cap to protect the top of your chimney, make sure that it is still attached securely.
Doors and Windows – Lower your heating bills by repairing air leaks around windows and doors. Don’t forget to replace the screens the storm windows and doors. The cooler days of autumn are an ideal time to replace peeling paint and caulk as well.
Plumbing – Drain the spigots and close the valves to outside faucets to prevent freezing and bursting pipes. Insulate the cavities and don’t forget to drain the hose of water.
Attic -Look in the attic after a good rain. This is one way to catch any leaks especially around chimneys and vents. Also check for adequate insulation and seal any air leaks.
Heating – Replace the furnace filter. Do a test run before it gets extremely cold, to ensure that everything is working properly. In the long run, it may pay to have your heating and cooling company clean and inspect your system.
Yard – This is a good time of year to fertilize and reseed lawns. Pay attention and trim any limbs that are close to the roof or power lines. Heavy snow and ice can cause them to fall and do great damage during winter storms. Bring in or protect your outdoor furniture, umbrellas, grills, etc. Make sure all of your outdoor lights and motion detectors are working properly and change their schedules if needed as the days get shorter.