How To's & Quick Tips

5 “Must Do” June Projects

In June, we officially welcome summer. In keeping with the season, this month's must-do projects include lawn care, do-it-yourself backyard improvements, and fun, kid-friendly ideas for painting.

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing homeowners this time of year is keeping the lawn healthy and green. One critically important aspect of growing grass is watering. Though it seems so simple, doing it right often eludes people. Conditions vary, but the following general guidelines should serve you well:

Water Enough. Most lawns require about one inch of water per week. How do you know if you're watering enough? Simply set out a small container, turn on the sprinklers, and track how long it takes for the container to fill with one inch. If it takes 60 minutes, that's how long you need to water your lawn each week.

Water Early. Water your lawn during the early morning hours, around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. At that point in the day, the air is cooler and the winds are calmer, so evaporation is less likely to occur, and your grass will also have a chance to dry out before the sun really starts beating down.

Water Evenly. Make sure that your sprinklers are reaching every part of your lawn. Test your system by dispersing several small containers around your property. After a session of watering, compare levels in the containers, making any necessary adjustments to the positioning of your sprinklers.

Slideshow: 10 Sprinklers to Quench Your Garden's Thirst

Water Slowly. Only water as much as your lawn can absorb. If you water too much too quickly, excess water will run off your lawn-a waste of water and money. One strategy is to run your sprinklers for half the usual time, allowing the initial watering to absorb before you give the grass another drink.

Water Infrequently. Instead of watering a little bit every day, give your lawn a good soak every three days or so. Watering less frequently encourages roots to grow directly downward in search of water, making your lawn more stable overall.

If you know the signs, your lawn will tell you when it needs watering. As you walk over the grass, your footsteps should readily disappear; if they don't, you need to water. A bluish-green color is another indicator of dehydration. So are curling glass blades. You might also try the screwdriver test: Pushing a screwdriver into the ground is difficult when the soil is very dry. Remember, the goal is to keep your lawn happy but not to become its slave!

A coat of paint can work wonders on surfaces of all kinds. Before you commit to eggshell or high gloss, however, consider what chalkboard paint has to offer. Whereas it was once available only in black, today's chalkboard paint comes in a range of colors. It can be applied easily with a brush, roller, or spray can, and you can use it almost anywhere, for countless purposes-personalizing mugs, labeling drawers, decorating stair risers, you name it.

If summer pests have begun to plague your house, many non-chemical treatment options are at your disposal. To deter flies, for instance, you can place potted basil plants on the kitchen counter and around doorways and windowsills. Problem with spiders? A mixture of water and unsweetened lemon or lime juice should do the trick. These and other natural pest control hints will help you maintain a critter-free home.

Few elements define your landscape as effectively as a walkway or garden path. This summer, consider adding one to the yard using pavers or stones from your local home improvement center. Choose whatever material best suits your needs and DIY skill set, but one easy, beautiful approach is to lay a stone path. For a different look that is more challenging to achieve, think about patterning brick or artfully arranging flagstone.

A favorite summertime luxury is the outdoor shower. Of course, a basic installation involves a garden hose, shower head, and tree branch, but you can make your own free-standing unit without much trouble, and without spending a fortune. If using wood, guard against rot by employing cedar, redwood, or pressure-treated lumber. For convenience, locate your shower is near an outdoor spigot; that way, you're spared having to tap into the household plumbing or run extended hoses. Don't miss these amazing outdoor shower designs for inspiration!