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Maintenance and Projects


As with any home, there will be maintenance tasks to be tackled at the cottage, such as cleaning, painting, fixing, mowing lawns and gardening. However, you will only be at the cottage for short periods compared to the time you live at home, and you don't want to spend all your valuable recreation hours on maintenance tasks. The key will be to minimize maintenance work as much as possible by reducing its scope.

Here are some pointers about work avoidance or elimination (other than letting the cottage go to rack and ruin):

Landscaping.

Unless you are an avid gardener who wants to spend all his or her recreation time gardening, you will need to reduce the work needed on your cottage lot. Presumably, you would prefer to have your lot looking well kept without too much effort. Not all of your property has to be controlled and kept immaculate - after all, cottages are most often in treed and rocky areas where lawns and flower beds are hard to create and maintain anyway, so why knock your head against a brick wall. Decide how much area will need to be kept grassy, and how much can be left to grow as it will. The wild areas will soon grow bushes and trees. If you want flowerbeds, and the soil is suitable, keep them to a manageable number for planting and weeding. Alternatively, site a few tubs of flowers in strategic places, enough to enhance the look of the lot without involving too much effort.
Some perennial plants enhance the look of the lot and require little maintenance; good examples are leafy hostas and day lilies. These spread into attractive clumps and borders over time. They can be planted around the borders of your wild areas to make them look more contained. If you want to avoid having to mow too much grass, you can plant some kind of native ground cover which spreads and requires little maintenance. However, avoid periwinkle which (although pretty) is very invasive and chokes out other plants.
As far as grass is concerned, don't bother with fertilizers and weed killers. Wild flowers will self seed and grow in the grassy areas. In the spring, we mow the absolute minimum of our grassy areas (basically to provide us with paths through the herbiage) until all the wild flowers have flowered and gone to seed. As you can see from the photograph here, the wild flowers provide splashes of colour that enhance the attractiveness of your property.
Wild Flowers

Building Maintenance

A major chore with older wooden cottages is painting them every five years. This effort can be reduced by installing long-wearing aluminum, plastic or hardboard siding. It is more expensive than painting initially, but will save both time and money over the years, and looks neat and tidy. Some people prefer to install rustic wooden siding that has to be painted with varnish or urethane to give a natural fresh wood look. It looks very attractive, but the owner has to be prepared to re-paint it frequently, otherwise the coating will deteriorate and the wood will weather and turn grey. The same is true of decks. You may prefer to use an opaque oil-based wood stain that is far quicker and easier to apply, comes in many colours, and that will cover weathered areas effectively. Clean-up of brushes after painting with some of the modern oil-based stains can be done with soap and water rather than paint thinner, which is not only easier, but more friendly to the environment.

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© 2009, David Mallinson. --- Last updated 01-May-2014