It’s time to put away the lawn chairs, wicker tables, garden tools and knick-knacks. Does the accumulation of stuff to be stored seem overwhelming? Where do you put it? That’s what basements and garages are for! According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% of people with two-car garages didn’t park any cars in them and 32% parked only one. You probably don’t have to think very hard to figure out that most of them are filled with clutter. Basements and garages are often modern-day elephant burial grounds and a major irritation or embarrassment. It doesn’t have to be that way! Consider these ten tips:

1.View basements and garages as rooms and plan how you’re going to use the space; visualize how you’d like it to look and feel. Grouping like things together is one of the most basic organizing principles. So create “zones”; a gardening zone, a camping zone, a recycling zone, etc. This makes for a logical system. PS: always label!
2.Make sure all your equipment is clean and maintained before storing. Mud or dirt can cause rust, mildew or deterioration. PS: donate or throw away before you store; why make room for items that need replacement?
3.Your storage area should be dry and ventilated. Wrap items appropriately. Lawn furniture cushions should be thoroughly dry before storing and then placed loosely in a nylon bag or plastic storage bin to keep them dust free.
4.Don’t keep anything directly on a basement floor in case of water damage. Cement blocks with wood pieces create instant shelves. Better yet, use clear plastic bins. You can see what’s inside and the bins protect from water damage. PS: remember to label them!
5.Turn a plastic wading pool into a holding bin for inflatable toys, beach totes, swim goggles, and other seasonal accessories.
6.Don’t forget valuable wall space. Hang pegboards and hooks, add shelving, and put a sturdy utility shelf unit (metal or plastic is better than wood) in an empty closet. PS: Lowe’s sells one I love: it’s made by Plano and costs about $20+-.
7.Place gardening tools—rakes, shovels, hoes, etc.—inside a sturdy trash barrel with wheels. Hang small tools around the rim. When it’s time to garden just roll the can to wherever you want to work. PS: trash barrels are also great for hockey sticks, bats, balls, etc.
8.Store the lawn mower in a ventilated area, away from flammable items. PS: get the leaf blower and snow blower serviced and ready for fall and winter.
9.Drawers from old furniture and empty luggage are great for storing. The luggage is going to be sitting there anyway; why not put it to good use?
10.If you still need more room, consider a storage shed behind your home. PS: make sure it can be locked and is thoroughly protected from the elements.

Disorganization takes up so much space. Organize all your clutter and you’ll be amazed how much more stuff you can fit. And imagine actually parking your car in the garage! By the way, all those trips to the beach and taking the dog to the park have taken their toll on the car. Clean the upholstery, floor mats, and car seats. The car will look great and have a new home!

Author's Bio: 

Since 1999, Rosemary Chieppo of "Born to Organize" ( ) has been making her living doing what most people hate to do: organizing! The costs of disorganization are enormous: time, money and stress. She is passionate about the benefits of an organized lifestyle, and wants to share those benefits with as many people as possible. Rosemary is the author of "Clutter, Chaos & the Cure", a short, upbeat, cleverly illustrated guide that weaves humorous, true stories in with loads of organizing tips. (KIWI Publishing, 2007).