The days are shorter. The nights are cooler. There’s no mistaking the signs — fall is coming.
As you begin autumnal planning and packing, we have advice on what to store, how to store it and ways to keep your storage spaces organized.
Out with the old, in with the new
Unless your last name is Gates or Buffett, you can’t replace expensive seasonal goods every time the weather changes. Consider a self storage unit for pricey summer items like outdoor furniture, sports equipment, tools and more — and move your favorite winter gear into the same storage space next spring.
Seasonal storage pro tip: Load your summer stuff onto a utility trailer. Tow and roll the trailer into your storage facility.
Art Decker — division manager of a national self storage company — writes at the Simple Productivity blog,
I am amazed to see how many of our tenants streamline the process of converting their garages from winter use to summer use — and vice versa. They do it by investing in a utility trailer, and loading it with all the heavy, bulky yard tools that they will not use for the duration of the season. Sometimes they have room left on the trailer to add the seasonal clothes or decorations that they want to put in storage as well. Then they simply roll the entire trailer into the storage unit and leave it there. When they bring it home at the beginning of the next season, they roll the snow blower and other equipment off the trailer, roll the lawnmower or other items on, and then drive the trailer back to the storage unit. With good planning, the whole changeover for the seasons can take an hour or less.
A quick how-to guide for storing common summer items
Patio furniture. Luke Whittaker, co-founder of outdoor living specialists Install It Direct, writes that “Even though most patio furniture is billed as being weatherproof, the reality isn’t always the same. Besides, you have to be reasonable about it. This furniture is not designed to be indestructible.”
If you want your patio furniture to survive the winter, it must go inside.
The real key to storing patio furniture is a good cleaning. About.com reports that “most outdoor furniture can be cleaned with mild soap and water,” and “an application of car wax can be used to protect frames.” Easy enough.
Properly cleaning and storing pillows, chairs and furniture will avoid mold and mildew problems. For aluminum, vinyl and plastic, simply use hot water, soap and a sponge. For wood, never use soap – just use water and a little oil soap. For canvas, grab some upholstery cleaner and get scrubbing.
Is your metal furniture beginning to rust? Use a wire brush to prevent further damage, then apply a coat of paste wax.
Sports equipment. You may need summer sports equipment over the cold months – a football for a tailgate party, for instance – but items like baseball or softball bats, gloves and spikes, tennis rackets, basketballs, badminton sets and pool gear will go untouched.
Storage units are always an option, but — unlike patio furniture — some of your sports gear may be able to fit efficiently into your home.
“Popularized in the 1950s, pegboard still offers classic storage for today’s home,” Larry Bilotti writes. “Be it ever so humble, pegboard is still a classic for home storage solutions.”
Set up high shelves for storage bins or use a pegboard that accommodates several sizes of hooks. Your sports equipment will be safely stored and your garage floor will stay clear of clutter.
A good tip from Real Simple — “Once everything has found a home on the pegboard, consider outlining each item with a black marker, so everyone in the household will know what goes where.”
If you’re limited on storage space, make the most of the area behind the closet door. Over-the-door racks are awesome.
“A hanging shoe organizer will hold mitts, helmets, balls, and so on,” Craig Offman and Sharon Tannenbaum explain. “Because the open pockets keep everything visible and accessible, you won’t have to rummage through the depths of your closet to find that lost golf glove.”
Your helmets, frisbees, gloves, balls and sticks of all kinds will have a space of their own. Your jackets will just have to learn to share.
Gardening tools. When packing away your gardening tools, use your walls as storage space. Use hooks for hoses and long-handed tools. Get crafty — use a pallet. You can place a pallet against any wall to create a makeshift locker.
Bicycles. There are dozens of elegant bicycle storage hacks (see the photo above). Custom-made bike shelves, cleverly-rigged tarps, wall mounts, hooks — all are common, as this gallery at Sightline.org will attest.
There are simple tips to follow to keep your bicycle in good shape while in storage: inflate the tires, lubricate the chain and keep direct weight off the wheels, say our Canadian friends at WomensCycling.ca.
This video offers more detail:
Lawn mower. Storage units are great options for lawn mowers, if only to get them out of your own living space — but there is an important rule to consider:
No flammable liquids.
Some experts, like Craig Allen of The Home Depot’s Apron Blog, recommend keeping the fuel in a lawn mower over winter. If you’re putting it in self storage, though, that’s a big no-no. Fuel and oil should be emptied before taking your mower to a self storage center — and your mower should always be properly cleaned before storing at home or a storage center.
If you keep your mower at home, fold over the handle on a stationary mower and temporarily remove the guard. If you want to get creative, check out GarageJournal.com’s forum with suggestions for pullies, wall mounts, cable lift platforms and portable storage containers.
Enjoy the fall, everyone! Let us know how you store your summer items either in the comments section below or by tweeting us at @lifestorage.