This is the month to tidy up your garage.
Neither too hot nor too cold to work out there, March is perfect for making your home safer and more functional by turning that neglected space from scary to welcoming. If the aggravation of clutter alone isn’t enough to get you motivated, ask yourself what unseen dangers lurk in your garage.
Could something lying on the floor trip you up, leading to bruises or a broken bone?
How about stuff piled a mile high: you don’t want to be underneath when that old ironing board suddenly hurtles down.
Are there chemicals or flammable materials stashed haphazardly? The U.S. Fire Administration says garage fires are larger and spread further than fires started elsewhere in the home.
You get the picture.
Where to start
First, remember you’re not alone in this. One survey found that a quarter of respondents couldn’t fit their car in the garage because of clutter.
Remember, too, that if your garage is like many, getting it shipshape is going to take more than just a day or two. But it’s an investment in time that will pay dividends.
To avoid being overwhelmed, start by figuring out how you want your garage to function. One way: make a sketch of it broken into zones. For example, sports equipment in current use could be stored next to the door into your home so it’s easy to deposit and access and doesn’t wind up inside the house. Lawn and garden supplies can be grouped in another zone. More zone ideas.
Tip: If you plan to refinish the garage floor, you’ll want to delay your tidy-up for a month or two until the snow and ice are gone. That’s because you’ll need to empty the space entirely, and that means a lot of things piled in your driveway while you refinish the floor.
Now, group items according to the zones you’ve determined. Do it a zone at a time and leave room along the wall where that zone will be so you can build or install a storage unit for the items.
While you’re grouping, get rid of the things you’ll never use. Be ruthless. And be generous: here are some charities and causes you can donate items to.
There are dozens of ways to store stuff, from DIY garden tool racks and sports equipment bins to sleek wall units available at big box stores. Which ones you choose depend on how handy you are, how much time you have and your budget.
When filling each storage unit, ask yourself again if you really need to keep every item – it’s surprising how fast your donation pile can grow.
And remember to label bins as you stash them away. Come December, you don’t want to be creating a new mess by opening container after container searching for the Christmas lights.
And that’s basically it. You just keep slogging till it’s finished.
Once everything is in its place, you can get to overdue tasks like maintaining the garage door opener and – here’s your reward for all your work – installing a beer fridge.
Heck, you might even be able to get your car in now.