Save money around the house this summer

You can save money this summer doing some things around the home on your own. Here are some ideas on ways you can cut costs:

Mow cool season grasses like fescue and bluegrass at the highest mower setting, usually 4 inches. Warm-season grasses should be mowed around 2 to 3 inches, says Emily Nolting of the Kansas State University Research and Extension.

She said only one-fourth of the height of the grass should be removed at each mowing.

Mow in a different pattern each time, to prevent rutting and the grass growing in one direction. Trim with a weed-eater or edger for a clean, precise appearance.

Do not collect clippings, she added. Clippings amount to a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, which is one fertilizer application, she said. A mulching mower cuts clippings several times allowing small pieces to filter into the lawn as opposed to a standard mower which deposits them on top of the lawn.

There are many home improvement projects you can do on your own, says David Lupberger, home-improvement expert for, which connects consumers with screened contractors. His short list: painting, replacing broken window screens, cleaning the gutters and downspouts to make sure water is running away from the foundation.

If it's a two-story home or if you are an older homeowner, consider hiring someone to do a couple of these, he said.

Web sites like Lowe's (, The Home Depot ( or have how-to tutorials, with topics such as fixing a sticky door, installing a garbage disposal or replacing an existing dishwasher.

Before beginning a home-improvement project, ask yourself, "Do I feel comfortable doing this? Do I feel safe? Do I have the knowledge and expertise to do it correctly?" said Lupberger.

"There is stuff you can do on your own, but there's a learning curve involved, which may mean not one trip to the hardware store, but several," he said. "And many DIYers find themselves hiring a pro to help them complete the project anyway, so that means they've spent more time and more money than if they'd hired a qualified professional to begin with."

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