Prep Summer Yard Tools for a Long Winter’s Sleep. Clean all gardening tools and your weed whacker, hedge trimmer, wheelbarrow, pruners, shears, and any other seasonal yard tools. Before putting your lawnmower away, remove the battery, clean the terminal with a metal brush or battery cleaner product, and store it in a cool, dry place away from gas cans, water heaters and furnaces. Remove the spark plug lead before you brush or hose off any weeds, grass, and mud, turning the lawnmower on its side to clean underneath. Also make sure you’re not storing it with a partially filled tank; if you can’t run the equipment dry, add a fuel stabilizer to a full tank.
Keep Your Wardrobe Looking Fresh. You should always clean your clothes before putting them in storage—even if they look clean—to prevent stains from setting and remove body oils that could attract moths. Sealed containers of mothballs are also a simple repellent. Remove any dry-cleaned clothes from plastic bags that will trap moisture and potentially create mold. When using hangers, use padded or wooden ones in lieu of wire, which can alter the shape of the clothes over time.
Help Pool Toys Last Longer. Ensure your pool toys are dry before storing them—really dry. Excess water will encourage mold in absorbent toys like foam pool noodles and cause advanced wear and tear. Once dry, deflate and fold anything inflatable and store everything in airtight containers.
Stop Replacing Patio Furniture. Patio furniture is designed for the temperate weather of spring and summer, so it won’t fare well if left outside year-round. Aluminum furniture needs to be drained of all moisture before storing, wood furniture is more susceptible to damage if it’s covered with moisture trapped inside, wicker furniture can over-expand and warp in extreme temperatures, and steel furniture can easily rust. Save yourself—and your wallet—the aggravation, and store your patio furniture during the off-season.
Protect Fragile Planting Bulbs. While there are hardy bulbs that need exposure to cold to successfully bloom, summer bulbs like gladiolas, dahlias, caladiums, and elephant ears are unable to survive the cold winter months. Keep an eye on the foliage, which will transition from green to yellow when it’s time to dig them up. Gently loosen the soil and remove the bulbs, leaving foliage attached. Then spread the bulbs in a warm, dry location with no direct sunlight for seven to 10 days to “cure.” Once they’ve cured, trim the foliage to half an inch from the bulb and store them in a box with sand or sawdust or in mesh bags. Airtight containers will create moisture buildup and rot.
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