Around the House – August 2020

Some tasks only need to be done once or twice a year. The problem often times is that we forget to do them once or twice a year.  Either that or we tend to save it all for spring cleaning, which makes spring cleaning such a daunting task that it does not occur as it should.

The best plan is to break down annual seasonal tasks by month and tackle them on a daily or weekly basis. Nothing gets too backed up and things eventually get done.  It is also helpful to concentrate on one room or area each month.  This is more rewarding because you can see the results and it motivates you to keep going.

August House Cleaning Checklist

Start your August house cleaning checklist by getting ready for the carpool season by detailing and servicing the car.  You will start the school year looking good.

This is a good time to clean all of your summer sports equipment and put it away in the proper place as time is going to be tight in the months ahead and it will be rewarding to have this chore done.

Open all the windows and clean them while you are at it.  Refresh your home one last time before closing up for winter.  Here in Sugar Land we can wait on this task because of the heat during August.  But when September and October come around and we experience some cooler weather, that would be the perfect time to open windows and refresh your home.

Give your big and little ones a cobweb duster or broom and send them on cobweb hunts around the house, the patio and the garage. It is amazing how cobwebs seem to just pop up out of nowhere.  Cleaning them from the corners and ceilings is very satisfying and makes a room look fresh.

Mops, brooms, buckets, and vacuum cleaners all get dirty.  Replace heads on mops (and perhaps the mops themselves), replace brooms altogether, scrub buckets, and service the vacuum cleaner. It is hard to get your home really deep down clean with a dirty utility item.

Clean garbage cans (inside and out) and recycling bins.  These items get smelly rather quickly so use your favorite cleaner, scented bags or odor absorber to keep them smelling somewhat fresh and clean.

Scrub and/or repaint the front door.  The front door of your home is the first thing visitors see.  Clean the door with a mild detergent solution.  If you have glass on or around the door a glass cleaner can make it sparkle.  Just do not clean the glass when the sun is shining on it in order to avoid streaks.

Got pests?  There are lots of environmentally friendly sprays to help control pests.  Spray your home and yard with an exterminating spray as necessary.  Or call an exterminating company to make sure your home and yard go into the cooler months pest-free.

Get your heating system checked to make sure there are no leaks or unpleasant surprises when cold weather sets in.

Good Housekeeping

Around the House – April 2020

By now we are sure everyone has heard and been following the proper guidelines for handwashing and staying safe during this outbreak of Covid-19.  Below are handwashing and hand sanitizing guidelines from the CDC you may find useful.

Human Coronaviruses are usually spread through

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact – touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, mouth or face before washing your hands

Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Separate yourself from others, including family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough and sneeze or cough into your elbow, not your hand
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash

Lower Your Risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • If you are over 60 or have underlying health issues, the WHO recommends avoiding crowds or places where you may come in contact with someone who is sick

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the restroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Follow these Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.
  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Cannot Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However:

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.
How to use hand sanitizer
  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Around the Yard – March 2020

According to Texas Master Gardener /Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, March is the time to do the following:

Planting

  • Plant ornamental trees and shrubs while the weather is still cool.
  • Divide and replant fall flowering plants such as asters and mums.
  • Complete transplanting of established woody plants before bud break.
  • Plant cool season flowers such as alyssum, daisies, dianthus, and geraniums (mid to late March).
  • Plant spinach, radishes, lettuce, through mid-April. Also, plant snap beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, lima beans, mustard, tomatoes, and squash late March when soil temperatures are warm enough for each variety.
  • Begin to plant warm season flowers as temperatures increase toward the end of the month and as they become available in nurseries.

Pruning

  • Prune back overgrown ground cover such as English ivy and Asian jasmine to maintain the height you prefer. Do so before new growth begins.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses before new growth appears.
  • Remove winter-damage from shrubs and other ornamentals.
  • Do not prune spring flowering shrubs and vines until after blooming such as forsythia, quince, azaleas, spirea, etc.
  • Allow foliage on spring bulbs such as daffodils to die back and dry before removing to create food for next year’s plants.

Plant Care

  • Based on a soil test, fertilize established shade trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs as spring growth begins.
  • Based on a soil test, fertilize pecan and fruit trees before bud break.
  • Check new growth on ornamental plants weekly for aphids and scale insects and treat if necessary.
  • Mow fescue/ryegrass lawns, now growing vigorously, at five-day intervals or as needed.
  • Fertilize fescue lawns in early March as directed by soil test results.
  • Continue to feed pansies and other cool season annuals to extend their bloom season.
  • Continue to protect tender plants from late freezes.