published Monday, June 16th, 2014

Summer checklist: Things to do in the garden and around the home in June

June is the prime month for painting says Scott Brown, owner of Scott Brown Professional Painting and Remodeling.
June is the prime month for painting says Scott Brown, owner of Scott Brown Professional Painting and Remodeling.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Riverbend 2014 is in the books, and our evenings are free again without the nightly trek to the riverfront.

As everyone gets into the swing of summer, the family's evening entertainment moves from the den to the deck and other outdoor living spaces. The beauty of summer's lingering sunsets -- in addition to vivid colors streaking the western horizon -- is extra hours of daylight until 9 p.m. or later. There's more time in the evenings for family fun or checking off the honey-do list of do-it-yourself chores.

"June tends to be that month that everybody tries to finish lingering projects to be ready for Independence Day holidays," says Harold Stockburger, manager of the East Brainerd Ace Hardware. "We get a lot of people who have worked all spring, getting things growing, now they are getting ready to cook out."

Stockburger says homeowners' projects include exterior painting, fertilizing the lawn -- especially Bermuda grass or zoysia, the two most popular varieties in this area -- and mulching.

June also is the time to tackle exterior paint jobs. Scott Brown, of Scott Brown Professional Painting and Remodeling, says his company annually sees an uptick in requests this month.

"A lot of people are painting before they go on vacations in July," he explains. The weather is more conducive to painting because it's "not too terribly hot" and not as rainy as the months of March through May, he adds.

Following is a list of things to be done around the home and garden during the month of June, aside from the usual chores such as grass-cutting and watering plants. They are suggestions from the experts at HGTV and design website Houzz.com as well as from local home and garden professionals.

1 Exterior painting: June's weather makes this the prime time for exterior painting.

"In May, you have warm days, but the nights are too cool prior to mid-May. Once you hit the heat of July, there is so much heat and humidity that it can be very hard to paint because paint starts to dry out before it can be applied. Especially if you are brushing; paint can start drying in the brush, which causes it to drag," says Stockburger.

If you plan to outsource this project, Brown recommends checking the chosen paint company through the Better Business Bureau and getting references from past customers.

2 Check the foundation: Walk around the house and check for cracks in the foundation. A small crack won't pose a structural threat, but it can let in water and insects. Look for spalling (chipping or flaking of a brick's surface) which can leave it susceptible to moisture and crumbling. If you discover water penetration, consider coating the bricks with sealant.

3 Clean gutters: Keeping brush and leaves out of your home's gutters and downspouts keeps the roof in good shape. Winter's freezing and thawing temps can make gutters expand and contract, so make sure they are still flush to the roof, not sagging.

4 Power-wash: Clean concrete driveways and patios, decks and any other exterior space where weather or mold has darkened the wood. Once cleaned, check deck railings for any rotting wood and make sure they are secure.

5 Get a chimney checkup: Hire a professional to clean and inspect an active chimney, check the flue and cap for cracks or leaking.

6 Clean out the garage: Open those garage doors to let in the fresh air, plug in your iPhone's earbuds and tackle the boxes and Tupperware bins that have stacked up. Wipe down shelves and sweep out the floor before replacing items.

Divide items into those you'll keep, those you could sell in a yard sale or resell in a consignment store, and those you'll donate to a nonprofit. As you are cleaning, check out the kids' bikes; see if they are in good shape, if the tires need air and if they've been outgrown and should go in the yard sale.

7 Check ceiling fans: Get a stepstool so you can reach the sliding switch that controls the direction of the fan blades' rotation. Check that it is on the right setting for summer by turning the fan on and watching its rotation. You want the blades to rotate in the direction that they tilt upward. This rotation pushes air downward, so you should feel the breeze as you stand beneath the ceiling fan.

8 Lighten up: Small changes to the interior decor can make a room feel lighter and more seasonal. Roll up heavy rugs and leave a hardwood floor bare, add an accent chair made of rattan or try toss pillows in lighter colors.

9 Take care of roses: Tim Holcomb, owner of Holcomb Gardening in Hixson and Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., says it's time for maintenance to help rose blooms continue through fall.

"Most roses have had their spring flush of growth, and by nature they'll tend to slow down. But if they are given sufficient water and food, they'll continue to bloom in cycles every four to six weeks until cold weather comes in late October. We recommend Fertilome rose food with insecticide, which will take care of slugs and aphids as well as give roses food and trace elements to keep them dark green and growing," says Holcomb.

The best time to prune Knockout Roses is early March, he says, but if that chore got overlooked, you can prune now.

"You can prune Knockouts or any shrub rose any time of year as long as you feed it and give it water. But don't take more than a third of the plant off," he advises. He adds that Knockouts are "normally self-cleaning" and don't require deadheading. However, he says, a lot of rain may leave dead blooms, so for cosmetic purposes it's OK to deadhead.

10 Harvesting herbs: Prune basil regularly; don't let it go to seed or even flower. The stems will become woody and the leaves lose their flavor.

"Also, you should harvest in early morning because the essential oils will disappear later in the day," advises Jane Goodin, president of the Chattanooga Herbies.

Harvest lavender blooms before it gets too hot. Lavender flowers are at their peak when the bottom of the bloom is just opening. Cut the stem down to the foliage, gather the stems and tie them together. Suspend them upside down in a hot, dry, dark location. Within 10 to 14 days, the lavender will be ready to use.

"There are a lot of things you can make with dried lavender: for example, tussy mussy nosegays, sachets for the drawer, and the little buds from the blossoms make wonderful cookies," Goodin says.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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