Get a Shed! And 7 More Ways to Make the Most of the Long Weekend

Get your bike in order, plant tomato seedlings and make plans for a game night or a grad party

Take advantage of milder weather and longer days to get out in the garden, invite friends over for a casual game night and firm up summer plans. And with Bike to Work Day coming up on May 18, this is a good opportunity to tune up your wheels — and maybe go for a pleasure ride too. Eight could-dos for your weekend are ahead.

1. Boost backyard storage with a shed. Garden tools last longer and stay in better condition when they’re protected from the elements. If you don’t have enough room in the garage (or don’t have a garage), consider adding a small storage shed or weatherproof container to keep your tools neat and tidy.

You can purchase an off-the-shelf shed kit from a home improvement store. Or hire an architect to design a custom shed that blends beautifully with your home and landscape.

Even a tiny shed can hold a surprising amount — outfit yours inside with wall hooks or a pegboard for hanging tools, and shelves for loose items such as bags of soil. Storage space already all set up? Use your time this weekend to organize it.

2. Tune up bikes. Bike to Work Day is May 18. Take part by leaving the car at home for the day and commuting via two-wheeler instead. Work too far away to bike? Embrace the spirit of the day by taking public transportation or carpooling if possible (to spare the air), and give your bike some love on the weekend with a tune up and a ride down a local bike path.

3. Check your irrigation system. If you use a drip irrigation system, May is a good time to check that it’s working properly — otherwise, wilting plants might be your first clue that something is amiss. Turn on the system and check that the tubing is in place and emitters are working properly. If an emitter is clogged, clean it out with a thin piece of wire. If that doesn’t work, replace it.

Thinking of adding a drip irrigation system? It’s a doable DIY project, but plan on a day or two of work to set it up. You’ll also need some basic parts, which can be found here or at a local home improvement store.

4. Plant tomato seedlings. Check your local nursery for tomato starts — there should be a good selection at this time of year, including heirlooms and unusual varieties. Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed before planting. Tomatoes love full sun and rich, well-drained, neutral or slightly acidic soil.

When you’re ready to plant, remove the bottom two sets of leaves from each transplant. Dig a hole deep enough to cover the stem up to the bottom of the remaining leaves and add amendments. Set in the plant, add soil and firm the plant in place. Leave 2 to 3 feet between plants if they will be staked or in cages; 3 to 4 feet otherwise.

5. Compost kitchen scraps. Backyard composting may seem daunting, but it’s not as hard as it looks — and with farmers market season (and all of those fruit and veggie trimmings) right around the corner, this is a good time to get your compost going. To start making your own “black gold”:
Purchase a composter from a garden store or city disposal station, and place it in a flat, partly sunny outdoor spot with good drainage.
Create a 12-inch base layer of straw, dry leaves or a woody brush material for air circulation.
Add a nitrogen-rich green material (kitchen scraps, lawn clippings) to your composter, always alternating each layer with a layer of carbon-rich organic material (like straw, dry leaves or newsprint).

Every two weeks, mix the contents in the bin to aerate the materials. The pile will shrink over time. Continue to add layers until the bin is almost full.
In about six months, you can harvest the compost.

6. Host a game night. Whether you invite friends over or keep it small, hosting a game night is a low-key, budget-friendly way to catch up after a busy week. Serve simple snacks like popcorn, make it a potluck or go all-out with dinner on the grill.

If you’re inviting people over, ask each person to bring a game. Be sure to go over the rules for each game before you begin — even if it’s a classic game, someone might not know the rules and be too embarrassed to ask. And if you’re expecting a big crowd, set up several games at different tables (the coffee table totally counts) so everyone can play at once.

7. Get ready to celebrate grads. Have friends or family graduating this spring? Carve out some time this weekend to shop for cards and gifts. If you have enough lead time, consider making a special photo book or album — it’s sure to be well received by grads of all ages. Or frame a favorite photo or two for a quicker gift that still has a personal touch.

And if your house will be party central, make a master to-do list so you don’t forget a thing, from the festive drinks to the cake. Shop in advance this weekend for nonperishable items, and you’ll be ahead of the game.

8. Finalize summer plans. We’re peeking over summer’s shoulder now — so if you haven’t nailed down summer plans yet, make it a goal to get it done this weekend. Book a trip, brainstorm ideas for a staycation or simply come up with a list of fun day trips to sprinkle throughout your summer weekends.

And if you will be going away at some point during the summer, remember to book the pet sitter or housesitter and have your mail held at the post office.