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Prep your yard for summer

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Beat the heat

The backyard can serve as a restful abode of relaxation during the warm summer months, or it can look more like a wasteland of burnt grass and cracked pavers. It’s up to you.
Outdoor patio set

Make your summer nights count by preparing your backyard and patio for warmer temps with these quick tips.

Spruce Up your Lawn

Sprinkler watering lawn

Whether you're a newbie or have a green thumb, the summer months are often about maintaining the lawn work you completed in the spring through mowing, aeration and watering.

  • Make sure that you’re regularly mowing your grass, but never cut it down more than a third of its height, because this could cause the grass to dry out in the hot summer sun.

  • If your grass looks dry even though you’ve been watering it, consider aerating your lawn following these tips so that water has a better chance of penetrating the soil to the roots.

  • Many factors (like the ones listed here) affect your lawn’s specific watering plan, but regardless of how much or how often you water, it’s extremely important to fire up the sprinklers before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. to avoid evaporation.

Update your Patio

Maybe your concrete patio is looking pretty dilapidated, or maybe it just needs a facelift. Either way, you can update your patio for warmer weather with the help of easy-to-install AZEK pavers. These pavers are made of up to 95 percent recycled materials, and they’re comparable to concrete pavers in every way, except that they’re just plain better. They are more durable, simpler to install and kinder to the environment than other pavers. What’s more, you can install them over your existing patio or any other surface you have in your backyard. Your patio will look fly before you know it.

Clean your Deck

If DIY pavers are outside of your scope but you still need to refresh your decking or patio, rent a power washer to bust up grime and stains. Rentals often run between $50-$60 per day. Of course, there are new power washer models that retail for just a couple hundred dollars, so you could always purchase your own power washer for ongoing patio care. And if you just got a manicure, you can hire help for the cleaning job.

Consider Pest Control

Andrew Schrage from Moneycrashers has an awesome idea on how to save money while limiting your backyard pests (of the variety that aren’t your children). He says, "For a cheap way to repel mosquitoes this summer, skip all the chemicals and get a spray bottle filled with Listerine. Use it around the area where you'll be hosting your next party for a pest-free event!"

Dazzle with Lighting

Outdoor lighting

And last but certainly not least, update your backyard lighting scheme to give your lawn and patio an inviting atmosphere. According to Sean Murphy, a do-it-yourself specialist at Build.com, "Landscape lighting can bring a summery feel to your backyard, while adding a layer of safety by illuminating a path or walkway." If you sprinkle lights across your backyard, they’ll look like fireflies in the summer night sky.

Add Cooling Systems

We recommend three different types of cooling systems to keep your backyard and patio cool on a hot day:

  • Shade: A good looking patio shade like this $175 one from Wayfair does two things for your backyard: It looks good, and it reduces the heat by about a billion degrees.
  • Misters: We always thought that misters were a luxury reserved for the patrons of Six Flags Over Texas, but turns out they’re inexpensive. More importantly, they do a great job of cooling an entire patio. Check out this mister set available for only $30 from Amazon.
  • Outdoor Fan: If you already have a covered patio available, definitely consider installing an outdoor fan to circulate the air. We love this tropical outdoor fan available from Build.com for $399.

Tell us

What are your tips to keep outdoor living fun in the heat of summer? Tell us in the comments below.

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