With winter fast approaching, and December 21 the shortest day of the year, giving your home a little TLC can do wonders for your property value. There are three exterior improvements you can make to ensure happy holiday living: installing outdoor lights, spraying for pests and storing outdoor hoses. Each of these is easily accomplished and will help you mark another item off your fall checklist!
1.Install Timers on Outdoor Lights
An outdoor light timer is a convenient and efficient way to turn them on and off, especially when you’re not home. At the end of the day, the timer programs lights to turn on, and you won’t have to fumble for your house keys in the dark when you do get home. Later in the evening, the timer will automatically turn off the lights, saving you money on utility bills.
Nowadays you can find timer devices for your outdoor lighting that screw right into the light socket. These timers have simple settings for programming the light switch. After you’ve set the timer, install it before screwing in the light bulb, keep the light switch on and you’re good to go.
If you’re jones-ing for a more involved project, get out the screwdriver, voltage tester, wire stripper and electrical tape, and replace the ordinary light switch with a timer switch.
- Turn off the main power supply to the outdoor lights
- Unscrew and remove the existing switch from the wall box
- Using a voltage tester, check the switch terminals for power
- Remove the wires from the switch, cut them with a wire stripper and make a fresh area of exposed wire
- To connect the timer switch, attach the black wire to the black wire on the wall box
- Attach the white wire to the white wire on the wall box (the green wire on the switch is for grounding)
- Tape where the two wires meet with electrical tape and insert the timer switch into the wall box, making sure the wires clear the edges
- Secure the faceplate, then turn the main power supply on and check the switch
2. Spray for Pests
When outdoor temperatures plummet, ants, spiders, crickets and other outdoor insects take shelter inside. Homeowners can use indoor pesticides such as baits, dusts or sprays to keep pests at bay. But if you have youngsters living at home, the first defense is for a child’s safety, avoiding the use of pesticides inside the house whenever possible.
A good alternative for indoor pesticides is to use a perimeter treatment on the outside foundation of your house. Perimeter treatments form a barrier on exterior surfaces, which stop pests from entering in the first place. For a perimeter treatment to be effective, get it in place before insects start entering the house or garage. You may prefer to hire a local exterminator to get this job done. However, it’s also on the to-do list of most do-it-yourselfers.
- Choose the kind of insecticide to spray: liquid or granule (note: if you are treating a hard, vertical surface, liquid sprays are best)
- Liquid sprays can either be ready-to-use or may come in a container for use in a pump sprayer
- Granule insecticides are applied using a spreader (note: unless rain is forecast water the treated areas well after application)
- Spray the entire foundation area around the house, behind steps, around decks or concrete slabs, in cracks and crevices, near window frames and in areas where utility wires enter the house
- Include a 10- to 12-inch band of soil around the foundation
- Apply insecticide anywhere insects are prone to gather: sheds, woodpiles and carports
3.Winterize & Store Garden Hoses
After you finish using hoses for the season, drain them of water. Turn off the water at the spout, then either use the spray nozzle or hold the hose vertical until every drop trickles out. It’s also a good idea to disconnect hoses from waterspouts, and then protect them with inexpensive foam spout insulators. Storage for garden hoses comes in three basic types: racks, reels and pots.
- Racks: the space-saving, and often decorative, rack hangs on the wall and keeps hoses off the ground. Hoses are coiled around it by hand, but can be taken off and brought inside for the winter.
- Reels: with reel-type storage, turning a crank handle easily coils the hose up, and it keeps the gardener less dirty. These practical units also have wheels to move around the yard with ease, or into the garage for the winter.
- Pots: garden hose pots need to come with drainage holes and are a good option if they’re kept near a watering area. Pots can also be transported to a storage area for the winter.
About the Author
Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.