The dog days of summer are here. Soon the kiddos will be going back to school (hooray) but also cooler weather and shorter days (boo) are heading this way. Before you know it you are going to be staring at your garage wondering how one, let alone both vehicles are going to fit back in along with all the stuff that has accumulated since spring when the snow melted and you started parking in the driveway.

Did you know that 57% of people who have 2 car garages park either one or both vehicles on the driveway due to the garage being filled with other stuff. Clutter in the garage seems to accumulate before our eyes. It is the dumping ground for everything that does not make it into the house.

So, let’s clean it out and organize kept items. Depending on the size of your garage and the amount of clutter, choose a full day or a full weekend to dedicate to de-cluttering and organizing.

First thing I do with every client is look around at the space and we decide together what items without a doubt can be thrown away. The two deflated plastic kiddie pools that have holes in them, the cracked boogie boards, the broken lawn chair, the old patio table missing the glass top, the cracked sled, the old ceiling fan, the bags of grass seed that are as old as your second grader and the old kitchen mop. Throw it all away!

Next create a donate pile or if you are willing to put in some time and score some extra cash, a sell pile. If you are going to attempt to sell (ebay, Craig’s List, swap sites) then give yourself a realistic timeline to finish the task. If you are pretty sure you will not follow through on selling and the items will continue to take up precious garage space then donating is best.

Everything left should be items that you use. Do not keep items that you think you may use someday. Wouldn’t you rather have the space those items are taking up…right now?

It’s during this step when almost everything except the chest freezer is on the driveway that I sweep out the garage. You can use a broom or shop vac (took me a painstakingly long time) or a leaf blower (be prepared for a dust bowl so wear eyewear and get the kiddos out of the way)

Next, figure out how much space your car(s) will take and then determine the best garage layout. Decide where you want each type of item to live, considering its frequency of use and the available space.

Create zones for groups of things such as auto care, gardening, and sports equipment so that like items are stored together.

Use the two back corners of the garage to store bulkier items such as a lawn mowers or snow blower.

Place rarely used items, such as holiday decorations or snow tires, on higher shelves of sturdy shelving units. Also take advantage of overhead space with sturdy shelves that mount to the ceiling. Just make sure your garage door doesn’t interfere with the ceiling storage.

Make the most of vertical space with wall-mounted pegboards and wire grids that hold everything from sports equipment to garden tools. Hanging bikes is a great use of space.

The cheapest way to add storage space in your garage is to make shelves with some shelf brackets and 8-foot-long 1×12 boards.

Once everything is back in the garage do what I call THE STARE, stand and look. Do you like what you see? Is everything in a practical place? If not, make some changes. If yes, congratulations you are finished… Go relax.

By: Nancy Bender