Nothing Says Spring Like Organizing The Garage

Do you enter your house through the garage? 9 times out of 10, I do. There are times during the year that I just cringe at the amount of “stuff” we store in our garage.

That’s how I felt recently, so on the first warmish Saturday, my husband Bill and I spent a few hours in the garage doing some purging and cleaning. Usually this activity coincides with needing to store my car’s winter tires away, since I won’t need them again until November (I hope!). This year was no different. We needed to rearrange the things we don’t use during the spring to make room in the corner of the garage for my tires.

For the most part, we keep the garage in pretty good shape. We made a promise to ourselves years ago that our garage would be used to store our cars, not our stuff. We’ve been pretty good about keeping that promise. But in order to do so, every once in a while we evaluate how we are using the space.

It’s common for garages to act much like an extension of the basement or shed, so unless there‘s some rhyme or reason to what you decide to keep in the garage, it can quickly get out of control.

The best way to make sure that your space is useable and organized is to group items by type, determining how you use the items and the season of year that they need to be within easy reach. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Tools: Depending on the season, what tools do you need on a regular basis? For example, in the winter, snow shovels need to be within easy reach, but when spring arrives. they can be replaced by rakes and gardening gear.
  • Recreational items: In the warm weather months, basketballs, golf clubs, and other yard games should be easy to get to, but skis and sleds can be stored on a higher shelf or in the rafters.
  • Gardening supplies: Keeping the pesticides and fertilizer safely out of children’s reach is a good idea year round. Storing the smaller hand tools in a bucket makes them easy to grab and go when you see the weeds popping up in the garden.
  • Seldom-used items: Lawn chairs and step ladders can be hung on hooks which gets them off the garage floor and out of the way until they are needed.
  • Workbench: Do you have a workbench in the garage? It’s handy, but it’s also a large surface to capture all the clutter you don’t put away on a regular basis. Unless you plan to use a workbench regularly for outdoor projects, I wouldn’t recommend allowing such a large item to consume precious real estate in the garage.
  • Recycling Center: I could write an entire e-newsletter on recycling (maybe I will), but it seems inevitable that a portion of all garages these days is dedicated to recycling. Bins for cardboard, papers, returnable soda cans, and anything else your town allows you to recycle need a designated space, ideally near the door to the house so it’s easy to fill them throughout the week.

Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to take a good look at how you are utilizing your garage space, rotate the items you store for use in the winter with what you need for the warm weather months, and give the garage floor a clean sweep. It’ll be worth it when you pull into the garage at the end of a long day, knowing that the cars will actually fit, and that everything is in its well ordered space.

What’s your favorite sign of spring?  Share it with us in the comments section below!

TA-DA Tip of the Month

If you look into your garage and say to yourself “How did I accumulate this much stuff in here?” it’s probably time to clear some of it out. Spring is a great time to do that. Here are three easy steps to completing a garage clean sweep:

  1. Pick a nice clear day so that you can pull everything in the garage onto the driveway. By emptying out the contents of the garage first, you can more easily clean out the dust, dirt, and last fall’s dried up leaves that have accumulated in the corners. This also allows you to re-imagine the best way to organize the items that you move back in.
  2. Once the garage is emptied and swept out, sort through all the contents and place the items you no longer need or that you haven’t touched in years in a separate pile. These items can be donated to a good cause or tossed out with next week’s trash.
  3. When you identify the items that you want to put back into your garage, group them together by how they are used (see suggestions above). If you have shelving, plan to place the items you will be using now on the lower shelves and place next season’s items on the shelves that are a little more out of reach. This is also a good time to install hooks to hold things like gardening tools, ladders, and lawn chairs so they are ready to grab when you need them.

Then the best part of the project — step back and admire your hard work. Enjoy the great feeling you have in knowing that everything has a place and the dirt you have been tracking in all winter is gone. Ta-Da!

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