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Outdoor summer fun

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Outdoor summer fun

A patio covered with a trellis is one way to enjoy a well-groomed yard.

/Photo Contributed


POSTED June 24, 2011 1:12 a.m.

The warmer months provide numerous opportunities for hosting outdoor events: birthday parties, barbecues, backyard campouts, weddings or a gathering for watching fireworks on the Fourth of July - the list is endless. Even when just hosting a fun neighborhood picnic or ice cream social, it’s important to get the outdoor living space looking its best for the big day.

The key is planning ahead so the landscaping, patios and porches are ready for any backyard bash - then just a few quick touches will create the party atmosphere. Here are some easy tips you can use on your grass, gardens, balconies and patios this summer to help get them ready for entertaining:

• Pruning - Dead branches on trees and bushes can be removed at any time of year. Early in the season, take some time to remove any dead materials, which will not only enhance the look of your landscaping, but also give trees and bushes a chance to grow and fill in around the removed branches. Be careful, and do not prune branches on flowering shrubs.

• Planting - Visit a local greenhouse or nursery and select several colorful flower varieties. Many annual flowering plants like pansies, marigolds and impatiens require minimal care and add a beautiful pop of color to the scenery. Outline the fence of an outdoor space with flowerbeds or try hanging flowering boxes off the side of fences and rails. Adorn the porch or walkway with pots overflowing with color. Even if the only outdoor area is a stoop, balcony or patio, think of the area as a mini-entertainment space: Try adding hanging baskets, table top gardens or grouping a few containers together to create mini gardens in a sunny corner. Don’t forget - all plants need to be fed to thrive. Make feeding part of the routine by using Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed. Attach the LiquaFeed Feeder to your garden hose, insert the refill bottle, and spray to instantly feed while you water. Feed every seven to 14 days. This will ensure plants stay looking their best all season long.

• Mulching - For a nice, finished look, layer your flowerbeds and container gardens with Nature Scapes Advanced Mulch. A 3-inch layer naturally prevents weeds by blocking growth and access to sunlight. Nature Scapes also has a one-year color guarantee, helps prevent water run-off and channels the water evenly to the roots of the plants. Mulch can save time and energy by preventing weeds from growing in your flowerbeds.

• Feed the grass - No matter how beautiful your trees, bushes and flowerbeds are, if your grass isn’t thick, green and comfortable for  bare feet, your outdoor space could use a touch more help. Feed your lawn with Scotts Green Max Lawn Fertilizer which combines iron with fertilizer to give your grass good nutrients and greening power. And it’s guaranteed to not burn your lawn. Apply a couple of weeks early to ensure you have the perfect grass suitable for bare feet dashing through a sprinkler at a birthday party or for a blanket picnic on Fourth of July weekend.

• Furniture - As you’re planning your party, determine what kind of backyard furniture you may need for your guests. Do you have enough patio and lawn furniture, or will you need to rent chairs? You can also ask your neighbors or friends if they have decorative benches you can borrow and mix into your flowerbeds to keep the beauty of your landscaping intact for the party. Your old furniture can be refreshed and repurposed too. A nice coat of paint can perk up the old and make it feel new again. New pillows can add a splash of color to the party scene while increasing the comfort level as well.

• Light the way - Never underestimate lighting. No need to spend a lot of money to achieve a well-lit entertaining space either. A great party atmosphere can be easily accomplished by the use of a few candles in jars placed on the tables, some decorative solar lights staked into flower pots or a string of twinkle lights woven into the branches of trees. Lighting sets the mood and can accent your beautiful lawn, garden or balcony with minimal effort creating a memorable experience for guests.

With just a little effort, you can have the backyard your friends and neighbors envy, and your parties will be relished for many years to come.

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