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REAL ESTATE

9 Home Improvements for Your Best Summer Ever

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cleaning grill (Stephan Zabel)

Summer is just around the corner, so the time is ripe for thinking about some home improvements that can help you enjoy the longer, warmer days to their fullest.

Here are nine things you can do now that won't break your bank account (or housing budget) and will ensure you get your summer off to a great start.

1. Buy some plants you won't kill

Plants can add a ton of beauty to your yard, patio, or porch, but they can also be expensive, especially if they die because you don't have the right soil or you put them in too much or too little sun.

If you don't know a lot about what kinds of plants do well in your region or those that are easiest to care for, reach out to your local county Cooperative Extension Agent, a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It offers free services and seminars, soil sample testing, advice on plants that do well in your area, and even Master Gardener certification.

2. Get your grill in tiptop shape

Nothing ruins a good barbecue faster than a dirty or broken grill, so before you head to the grocery store for provisions, do a thorough clean and check of your grill. If it's a gas grill, it's a good idea to check the burners to ensure they haven't corroded. They should light quickly and burn evenly. If they don't, it might be time to buy replacement burners. Same goes for your ignition switch.

If your grill looks a bit worse for the wear, you might also want to consider sprucing it up with a fresh coat of high-temperature grill paint.

3. Repair patio or lawn furniture

If you store your furniture, now's the time to dig it out and give it a good scrub. You'll also want to make sure it's still sturdy enough for a full summer of use. Are the frames rusting or broken? Are the joints fast? Are there any rips in the fabric and can it be replaced? How about your seat cushions? Check it all out so you're not having to apologize to guests later.

4. Lighten up

How's the lighting in your outdoor living space? Replace any old melted candles with new ones, and check strings of lights for any broken or burned-out bulbs. If you don't have any outdoor lighting besides your porch light, consider adding some. Uplighting under trees can be a lovely accent.

5. Don't bug out

Along with the longer, warmer days come mosquitos, flies, and other critters that can make being outdoors less than enjoyable. And who wants to coat themselves in stinky bug spray every 10 minutes? Consider some citronella candles, bug zappers, or, if you have the budget, a mosquito trap.

6. Get your AC serviced

To avoid having your air conditioning go out on the hottest day of the year, consider spending some money now on a service call to have a technician come out and check your unit, especially if it's older and out of warranty.

Spending some money now on preventive maintenance can save you the hassle and possibly bigger expense later on. ( High credit card balances related to home repairs or otherwise could hurt your credit. You can see where you currently stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

7. Check your insulation

How old is the insulation in your house? It's just as important in the summer months as it is in winter when it comes to keeping your monthly utility bills in check, so if you didn't take a look last fall, you might want to do so now.

If you know what you're doing, take a crawl through the attic and check the depth of your insulation. Energy.gov has some tips for how much you need when it comes to different types of insulation.

If you don't know what you're doing, or if crawling around the attic sounds like your own personal horror movie, hire someone to come check it out for you.

8. Check watering hoses & sprinkler systems

If you store your watering hoses for winter, it's a good time to check them for leaks and to see if any of the fittings or washers need replacing. It's also a great time to have your sprinkler system inspected for leaks, broken heads, and other issues.

9. Service yard tools

If you mow your own yard, now's a great time to get a tuneup on the lawn mower and have the blade sharpened. While you're at it, you can also have the weed wacker, chainsaw, and leaf blower tuned up as well so they're running smoothly all season long.

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This article was written by Constance Brinkley-Badgett and originally published on Credit.com.

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