Since yard maintenance may be looming large over you right now, here are some smart shortcuts to make the warm-weather months way easier.
After months in cold, damp storage, your gardening tools can likely use a spring cleaning. To shine rusty tools without elbow grease, soak them in white vinegar for 24 hours, then scrub with steel wool. Keep tools from rusting again by storing them in a bucket of builder's sand. (It really works!)
Not only will you save water, but this promotes deeper grass-root growth, thus enabling your lawn to better tolerate drought.
Take a cue from a good rainfall to determine how much water your grass needs. About 20 minutes, twice each week, should do the trick.
Weeds in your flowerbeds are a time-stealing eyesore (plus weeds steal moisture from flowers, causing them to wilt). Banish weeds for the entire summer by pulling all the weeds and then add a newspaper with the mulch.
Newspaper will block new weeds from taking root, as well as help retain moisture. It is also nontoxic and will eventually decompose into the soil.
Pour 1 gallon of everyday white vinegar into a bucket and add 1 cup of table salt. Stir the solution until the salt dissolves. Add 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap to help the mixture stick, and you've got a powerful weedkiller. Funnel it into a spray bottle and spray liberally on the weeds on a sunny day. Any weeds hit with this solution will die within several days.
Clean stains on plastic outdoor furniture by rubbing marks with a dab of white toothpaste. Toothpaste's tiny granules gently clear stains that most other cleaners can't reach.
If you need to revive sun-faded colors on plastic furniture, polish with a small amount of petroleum jelly or mineral oil. Let the jelly or oil sit for an hour, then wipe it off for a refreshed shine.
Instead of using harmful pesticides, repel those outside pests by sprinkling coffee grounds or orange peels in your garden.
Both are natural repellents for pests, because of their odor and acidity.
Bonus: Coffee grounds also serve as a fertilizer and improve a soil's drainage, water retention, and aeration.
Roses are susceptible to unsightly fungus, in the form of blotches on leaves. The answer is in your fridge. Take half a cup of milk and add it to a cup of water in a spray bottle. Then spray the watered-down milk onto your rose leaves to kill any spotting fungus.
A hack using plastic water bottles can save you the trouble of watering your plants. Fill them with water, then use a needle or pin to poke a few holes in the cap. From there, half bury the water bottle upside down in the dirt near the plants you want to water. The holes in the cap allow for a slow trickle to keep plants hydrated.
Hate raking up your lawn clippings? Leave them on your lawn instead. They'll help fertilize your lawn and keep it lush. Your best bet is to keep these clippings short enough that they won't clump on top of your grass, but rather fall to the earth below. A good rule of thumb to make this happen is the one-third rule: Snip just the top third of the blades of grass so they're small enough to fall through.
A great way to keep cut grass from clogging up your lawn mowers cutting blades is to use cooking spray on the blades. This saves a lot of time on cleanup and maintenance, by keeping grass from sticking to the blades.