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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Grooming Your Back Yard for a Summer Cookout

Suzanne Oliver
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The invites are sent and the menu is set, now you just need to tackle that jungle of a back yard. As it is, you can’t imagine having your family and friends over to see a mishmash of murky pool water, disheveled bushes and a grill covered in soot. A celebration requires preparation. Here’s a quick rundown on how to get your yard looking party perfect.

  • Mow the grass and prune the bushes, especially those planted near a pool — less debris to skim out later.
  • If you have a pool, have plenty of towels, sunscreen, goggles, ear plugs and water toys on hand for your guests. You’ll also want to make sure the pool water is algae-free before swimmers dive in. Pull out the pool vacuum and the brushes for a good scrub. Go a step further and check the water’s chlorine, pH and alkalinity levels using a pool test kit. The pH level, for instance, should ideally be between 7.4 and 7.6. Double check that all your accessories, including ladders, slides and safety rails, are securely fastened. You may even want to build a handy-dandy floating pool caddy to hold your cold drinks.
  • Clean that ghastly grill. Gas grills are easier to clean than charcoal ones, but both require a stiff, wire brush and warm, soapy water on the grates. Just remember that it’s easier to scour off cooked-on foods when the grill is slightly warm. Weber, a top-selling brand at Home Depot, has detailed video tutorials on how to clean both types using everyday household cleaning supplies.
  • That warm, soapy water is also handy when cleaning your outdoor upholstery. No one wants to sit back and relax on moldy cushions! While you’re at it, wipe down the furniture, too. Arrange your chairs into seating areas where your guests can comfortably congregate.
  • You may also want to add some wireless outdoor speakers, so partygoers can jam to tunes outside. To camouflage the electronics, mount them in a corner or tuck them under an eave.
  • Wipe out those pesky pests before they even have a chance to start biting. Attach Cutter’s Backyard Bug Control to a hose and spray your lawn. The formula kills ants, fleas, mosquitoes and other insects for up to four weeks. Cutter also carries a line of citronella candles and repellant sprays to combat bugs on the day of the party.
  • Now for a little fun — the decorating! Tiki torches, lanterns and strings of little, white lights can turn a blah back yard into an enchanted forest.

Now that your back yard is all set for company, it’s time to play host and enjoy the cookout.

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