Category: Lawn & Garden

How To: Clean Patio Furniture

Start the season right by inviting friends and family over to celebrate the warmer weather—and your sparkling clean outdoor furniture! With this new, almost life-changing tool and whatever cleansers you have on hand, washing your patio furniture has never been so easy.

How to Clean Patio Furniture


A fixture of backyard barbecues and poolside parties, patio furniture must withstand not only the elements, but also the everyday wear and tear that occurs even in fair weather. Given your furniture’s almost constant exposure, dirt and grime inevitably accumulate over time, but with proper preparation, you can clean patio furniture fast—and with next to no hassle. The key? Insisting on the very best tools for the task at hand. Read on to discover the easy way to care for wood, metal, and plastic outdoor furniture.

- HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand
- Garden hose
- Vacuum with hose attachments
- Sponge
- Oil-based soap, dishwashing soap, or automatic dishwashing detergent

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Table 2


Cleaning patio furniture the easy way hinges on HYDE PivotPro, a triple-threat tool that’s part sprayer, part soap dispenser, and part stiff-bristle brush. Swing the brush into position, then use the 46-inch tool to scrub away all the loose dirt or debris from the furniture. Before you get going in earnest, remove any cushions, setting them aside to be handled separately.

Different cleaning agents are best for different patio furniture materials. No matter what type of furniture you’re dealing with, however, you can usually count on having to pull out a bucket and pour in about a quarter-cup of the appropriate cleanser with about a gallon of warm water. But with PivotPro, you can skip the bucket and let the tool dispense the correct cleanser-to-water ratio.

• For wood and natural wicker furniture, opt for a nourishing oil-based soap.

• For both colored plastic and wrought-iron furniture, choose a clear, mild dishwashing soap.

• For white plastic furniture, use automatic dishwashing detergent. Because such detergents typically contain bleach, wear rubber gloves for protection. After applying, remember to let the solution stand for 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

The PivotPro comes with a built-in 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Just add the appropriate cleaner to the reservoir and set the tool to dispense precisely two ounces of soap for every one gallon of water (which is just one of several available ratios). Now attach the PivotPro directly to your garden hose.

Point and shoot, using the PivotPro to spray down the furniture with a steady, rapid stream of soapy water. Be sure to address every surface—top and bottom, front and back. For best results, capitalize on the patented pivoting nozzle from which the PivotPro derives its name. Simply slide the grip on the barrel of the tool, and the spray angle adjusts along a radius of 135 degrees, enabling you to clean those hard-to-reach areas, all without bending, stretching, or stooping. If you encounter any crud that refuses to budge, swing the brush back into position and scrub while simultaneously spraying. That ought to do it!

Disengage the soap dispenser and rinse the furniture with clear water, taking care to remove all residue left by the cleaning agent. Finally, let your furniture air-dry outside, and it’s sure to be ready in time for a relaxing, well-deserved alfresco dinner that very evening.

How to Clean Patio Furniture - Al Fresco


This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Give Your Gas Grill a Tune-Up

For better-tasting food and longer-lasting equipment, set aside time at the start of barbecue season to give your gas grill a little tune-up.

Grilling season is back, and not a minute too soon! To avoid any unpleasant surprises on your inaugural cookout, give your grill a little TLC before you start it up.

Gas Grill Maintenance


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Listen to BOB VILA ON GAS GRILL MAINTENANCE or read the text below:

Shut off the valve on the propane tank, then carefully remove the cooking grates, gas tubing, and burner. Wash the grates and gas tubing in soapy water, then use a damp rag to wipe grime off the burner. Next, poke a toothpick into each hole in the burner to dislodge any gunk from last season. Finally, use soapy water and a stiff brush to clean the inside of the grill before reinstalling the gas tubing and burner.

Before your first cookout, fire up the grill, with the burners set on high. Let the heat burn off any grease or such that you may have missed. Doing so also provides assurance that all components of the grill are working as they should. It may be wise to keep a couple of propane tanks ready to go, as you never know when unexpected guests may show up with an appetite for one of your juicy burgers!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Bob Vila Radio: Best Practices for Mounting Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor speakers bring the party outdoors, but to enjoy optimal sound and to maximize product lifespan, remember these simple installation guidelines.

If you often host outdoor get-togethers and seek a better method of providing music, installing outdoor speakers is the way to go. Here are some issues to consider before tackling the job.


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Listen to BOB VILA ON INSTALLING OUTDOOR SPEAKERS or read the text below:

First, make sure to purchase speakers expressly made for the outdoors. And know that even specialized outdoor speakers last longer if you minimize their exposure to the elements. You can do so by mounting them under an overhang or an awning. Don’t be tempted to hang your speakers to gutters or flimsy aluminum siding. It’s far better to screw them into sturdy wooden posts.

Audio experts say that for optimal sound, it’s best to mount outdoor speakers about ten feet high and ten feet apart, tilted slightly downward. Try to be precise in determining how much speaker wire you’ll need, so you don’t run any more than you have to. Excess wire takes away from the quality of sound.

A final point: Even if you have everyone on the deck dancing, don’t go overboard with the volume—that is, unless you invited all your neighbors to the party!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

One-Step Spring Upkeep with a Multitalented Outdoor Tool

Wash away a winter's worth of dirt and debris with a practical, versatile tool that attaches to your garden hose and lets you both soap up and scrub down grimy surfaces all around your house.

Photo: JNoonan

Here’s what the real estate agent doesn’t say: Owning a home near the ocean is rarely a day at the beach. Salt air puts vulnerable components to the test, and thanks to frequent strong winds, all manner of dust and debris gets whipped against the home’s exterior surfaces. That’s why our spring cleaning routine tends to focus as much on outdoor decking and house siding as it does on things like forgotten closet shelves and the neglected hardwood floors beneath heavy furniture.

Photo: JNoonan

Although there’s a fully exposed deck in our backyard, the covered front porch typically takes more of a beating due to its orientation toward the sea. Here, the floorboards are made of a composite material touted for its low maintenance requirements. In my experience, composite may need less upkeep than natural wood does, but it calls out for at least yearly attention, particularly in our neck of the woods.

When we clean the porch, our goal is not only to refresh its look, but also to discourage the growth of mildew, an unsightly, damaging menace that always looms threateningly in the background around here. Our usual tools for the task are a humble assortment of buckets, brushes, and garden hoses. But this year, we took things up a notch by trying out the new HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand.

PivotPro fits onto your garden hose and gives you more concentrated power from your garden hose. As with some other quality hose nozzles and wands, you’re able to obtain more pressure by forcing the water through a constricted nozzle. But PivotPro surpasses others with the patented feature for which it’s (presumably) named. By pushing or pulling a grip on the barrel of the tool, you can rotate—or pivot, if you will—the spray along a radius of 135 degrees. So without bending or stretching, you can attack grit and grime from every angle.

The PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand Kit includes a built-in scrub brush as well as a spindle brush. While the oversize scrub brush works well for flat surfaces, such as my porch floor, the spindle brush lets you clean narrow crevices where even hands can’t easily fit. I used the spindle brush on my porch rail, both along the top and up and down the balusters, and I must admit that that’s probably the most attention those unsung heroes of the porch have ever received in my career as the home’s owner.

The other feature that distinguishes PivotPro is its integral 16-ounce mixing reservoir. Here, you can pour in your chosen liquid cleanser and, at the push of a button, set the tool to spray soapy water at one of six preconfigured soap-to-water ratios. In years past, we applied deck-cleaning solution first, then followed up separately with a scrub and a rinse. Today, armed with PivotPro, we were able to do all three at once.

After adding deck cleaner to the reservoir, I set the soap-to-water ratio I wanted, then got to work spraying soapy water even as I scrubbed. The combination of a powerful spray, crud-cutting soap, and the stiff-bristle brush worked wonders to eliminate the muck that hadn’t seemed like it was going to budge. To finish, I moved the bristle brush out of the way, disengaged the soap dispenser, and rinsed with clear water. Clean!

It’s well worth noting that PivotPro accepts not only its own attachments, but a range of third-party components as well. That’s encouraging, because as much as I love my garden-watering hose attachment, it’s not perfect. This summer, I hope to hook it up to the PivotPro, a tool that, at 46 inches in length, would certainly help me reach those flower-filled baskets that I always hang but usually can’t water without a stepladder. I’m also really looking forward to using the HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand, because after those last few weeks of winter, my poor station wagon would surely benefit from a bit of—no, a ton of—TLC!

For the time being, though, now that the porch is sparkling, I can’t wait to sit out in the morning with a cup of tea, reading the newspaper as the sun comes out.

Photo: JNoonan

This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of

One Attachment Turns Your Garden Hose into a Powerhouse Cleaning Tool

Fully featured and eminently user-friendly, HYDE PivotPro makes light work of all the outdoor cleaning jobs on your to-do list, from cleaning patio furniture to clearing the gutters.

HYDE PivotPro - Siding


This time of year, we all rely on the garden hose for any number of chores around the yard. But useful though it may be, the garden hose does nothing more than extend the reach of, and give you control over, the water from your outdoor spigot. That’s why so many homeowners equip their hoses with specialty nozzles of one type or another. You’ve probably owned one in the past, and no matter its design or material composition, you may have been frustrated by its limitations. If that sounds all too familiar, take a minute to meet the HYDE PivotPro Outdoor Cleaning Water Wand. When you need a hose attachment to make quick and easy work of outdoor cleaning jobs, there may be no tool on the market better suited to the task. Dirty decks, driveways, paths, siding, windows, and outdoor furniture—none are a match for PivotPro and its cleansing spray, pivoting nozzle, built-in scrubbing brush, and soap-dispensing functionality. Find out why it’s so different.

HYDE PivotPro - Product Shot


Easy and Convenient
PivotPro takes its name from its patented pivoting nozzle, a feature that saves you from having to bend, stretch, or stoop to access those hard-to-reach places (e.g., the underside of your patio table). Simply pull or push the slide grip, and the spray angle, rotating along a radius of 135 degrees, instantly adjusts to your setting. You can remain standing on your own two feet the entire time, letting the tool eliminate all the hassles you’d usually associate with seasonal maintenance.

The power and convenience of a pivoting nozzle may be most easily appreciated by way of an example. Have you ever used a regular hose nozzle to clean off the blades of your lawn mower? Like me, you probably tipped the mower onto its side, got down on your knees, and ended up soaking not only the mower, but your clothes as well. With PivotPro, you just lift the mower a few inches, position the wand, and point the nozzle upward. The tool takes it from there; you stay high and dry.

Powerful and Effective
Water and water alone doesn’t always do the trick. Sometimes, you need a bit more punch to overcome caked-on grime or lingering stains. With PivotPro, consider yourself fully equipped to easily handle even the most challenging cleanups.

Two features make PivotPro much more powerful than the average hose wand. First, there’s the built-in mixing reservoir. Here, you can add up to 16 ounces of your favorite liquid cleanser. After setting your desired soap-to-water ratio, you simply toggle the lever and boom—right away, you’re ready to spray the soapy water needed to cut through tough crud.

The other key to the potency of PivotPro is its adjustable stiff-bristle nylon brush. Swing it into place when you want it, and when you’re done with it, swing it back out of the way. Particularly when combined with the tool’s soap-dispensing spray, the brush gives you a heavy-duty, effective weapon to deploy in the fight against mold and mildew, soils and oils.

Endlessly Versatile
Depend on PivotPro to clear the gunk out of your garbage cans, wake up a tired fence, or restore your weathered garage to its pre-winter glory. Plus, with its 46-inch reach, PivotPro can even blast all the leaves and debris out of your gummed-up gutters. For a tool that’s so lightweight and compact, and takes up such little space in your toolshed, PivotPro brings scores of common upkeep projects within reach, whether you’re a veteran weekend warrior or a newbie.

Purchase HYDE PivotPro Water Wand Outdoor Cleaning Kit, $50.99


Of course, the house isn’t the only thing in our lives that needs TLC. Check out the other PivotPro specially designed for boats and automobiles. Like its outdoor cleaning cousin, HYDE PivotPro Boat/Auto Cleaning Water Wand gives boat and car owners a convenient, powerful, and versatile tool that makes maintenance not only hassle-free, but actually sort of fun!

Purchase HYDE PivotPro Water Wand for Boat/Auto Kit, $50.99


Want to see both tools in action? Watch the video!


This post has been brought to you by Hyde Tools. Its facts and opinions are those of

Weekend Projects: 5 Designs for a DIY Rain Barrel

It pays to be green when you collect rainwater for your landscaping needs. Start saving on your water bill this very weekend by setting up a rain barrel based on one of these easy designs.

These days, it would be hard to ignore the need for water conservation. Due to drought conditions, California now enforces strict water regulations, and it may be the first of many states to enact such measures. No matter where you live, you can get proactive by setting up a DIY rain barrel. Inexpensive and easy to construct, DIY rain barrels collect and store rainwater for use, if not in a garden, then wherever you would like. Here are five favorite ways to approach the project.



DIY Rain Barrel - Stock Tank


A galvanized stock tank is great for collecting and storing rainwater—it’s naturally rust resistant and just the right height to sit underneath a shortened downspout. A slatted cedar lid outfitted with a mosquito screen on the underside completes the tank’s country-rustic look—so well, in fact, that the DIYers at The Bike Garden set up four outside their home.



DIY Rain Barrel - Wine Barrel


Aesthetics are not of foremost importance with DIY rain barrels, but when you enlist a reclaimed wine barrel for the project, function and form come together in a charming win-win. When sourcing a barrel, opt for one with a lid and a cork. Read one DIYer’s adventure from wine country to backyard at Nail Polish and Paint.



DIY Rain Barrel - Painted Plastic


When using rainwater to nourish a vegetable garden, be sure your DIY rain barrel hosts no contaminants. A sure bet might be large food-grade plastic barrel like this one, which once held olives. To better integrate the vessel into your landscape, paint it a neutral, non-offensive hue. Get all the details over at Lovelace Files.



DIY Rain Barrel - Trash Can


Don’t care to get fancy? With an 32-gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck trash can, plus a few important spare parts—namely, a couple of spigots, window screening, and a handful of locknuts and washers—you can fashion a DIY rain barrel you’d be happy to see overflowing. For the step-by-step, visit Instructables now.



DIY Rain Barrel - Pallet Surround


If even the most carefully considered and constructed rain barrel seems like an eyesore, this project from The Doodle House is for you. The ever-versatile reclaimed wooden pallet comes to the rescue here, with openings between slats ready to support a collection of cheery camouflaging plants. Set up this structure around your barrel, and you’ll soon be doing your part for the planet in style.

Genius! Hack This Old Appliance for the Perfect Fire Pit

Break out the marshmallows! See how one DIY blogger transformed an old washing machine part into a high-end summer staple, and you'll surely want to make one of these for yourself.

Washing Machine Fire Pit


This story starts out like many other tales of DIY savvy. While browsing the a trendy retailer store, Sarah of House and Fig fell in love with a particular product—a geometric steel fire pit, to be exact. The problem? Its four-figure price tag. Rather than break the bank, Sarah and her husband, Joe, instead set out to create their own version. In doing so, they would revisit a peculiar concept they’d discovered on a camping trip years before: lighting a fire in a washing machine drum.

Why a washing machine drum? Well, its stainless steel holds up against high heat, and the slotted housing allows for the free flow of the oxygen that a fire needs to burn efficiently. Also—and unexpectedly—the humble washing machine drum somehow manages to look quite stylish when lit up against the a dark night sky.

To follow Sarah’s lead, head out to a used appliance store—she snagged her washing machine drum, used, for $10. Besides an angle grinder, you’re going to need several grinder attachments, including a cup wire brush, cut-off wheel, and flap wheel sanding disc. Also a must is the proper protective gear—don’t forget glasses!

First, remove the drum’s plastic rim and base. Next, use the grinder and cut-off wheel to take out the center spindle, thus carving out space for firewood. From there, it’s largely a matter of shaping the drum to your liking. Sarah and Joe ground down their drum’s metal lip and smoothed its rough edges with the flap wheel attachment. Lastly, with the wire brush, they cleaned the drum walls to completely eliminate any soap scum still lingering from the drum’s previous incarnation.

You could stop there, but if Sarah’s uncompromising sense of style has inspired you, then finish things off by giving the drum a coat of black high-heat spray paint. Also, importantly, consider welding on a quartet of legs at the base. Perhaps sooner than you think, you can be be roasting s’mores over your finished project!

FOR MORE: House and Fig

Washing Machine Fire Pit - Grinding


Bob Vila Radio: Does Pressure Washing Ruin Your Landscape?

Though it's a useful and versatile tool, the pressure washer do more harm than good if you don't take the proper steps to protect your plantings.

Want to remove years of dirt and grime from the exterior of your home? A power washer might be the right tool for the job. However, it can be bad news for your landscaping. Proceed with caution.

Does Pressure Washing Ruin Landscaping?


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Listen to BOB VILA ON PRESSURE WASHERS AND LANDSCAPING or read the text below:

If you’re going to use bleach as part of the cleaning solution, opt for oxygen bleach over chlorine bleach. The former goes easier on foliage. Move as many potted plants as possible out of the immediate area. The plants you can’t move should be hosed down thoroughly with clear water before you start. That’ll naturally dilute any overspray that happens to land on the plants.

Another alternative is to cover your plants with plastic. But it’s important not to cover all the plants at once, especially if you have a large home and it’s a warm day. Prolonged periods shrouded in plastic can smother even the hardiest species. Covering plants becomes essential if you have natural wood siding and plan to use a sealant after power washing. That’s because most sealants can’t be washed off and are lethal to flora.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Bob Vila Radio: Raising Sunken Pavers

Over time, some pavers in your installation might sink to a level beneath that of the surrounding patio or driveway. When that happens, it can be an eyesore as well as a safety hazard.

If a few of the pavers in your patio or driveway have begun to sag, don’t fret—there’s an easy, DIY-friendly fix. Here’s how to handle the project.

How to Fix Sunken Pavers


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Listen to BOB VILA ON SUNKEN PAVERS or read the text below:

First, remove the pavers using the tip of a small, flat-bladed screwdriver. Little by little, pry up the end of each paver. Sometimes employing a pair of screwdrivers—one at each end of the paver—helps with the wiggling process. If the pavers are wedged in tight, pound them with a rubber mallet to loosen things up.

Next, prepare a screed board of the kind used to level freshly poured concrete. You are going to use the board to scrape and level out the now-exposed ground beneath the sagging pavers. For that reason, make sure the board’s long enough to reach across the exposed area, all the way to the level pavers surrounding the problem area. Butt the board against the in-place pavers and notch its edges about an eighth of an inch below where the pavers hit.

Finally, add all-purpose sand to the low area and, with the notched ends of the screed aligned with the level pavers, pull the screed over the sand to level it out. Reset the pavers. Then use the rubber mallet to pound them down until they’re level with the other pavers. Sweep dry sand into the joints and you’re done!

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free.

Genius! Instant DIY Hammock

The next time you want to relax in the yard, remember that you can always rig up a homemade hammock with nothing more than a bed sheet and a length of rope.

Instant DIY Hammock


We’re always choosing between saving time and saving money. So when a DIY comes along that’s both quick and inexpensive, people tend to take notice. That was certainly the case for the Instant Hammock. Ingenious yet face-palm simple, the project drew nearly 250,000 views on Instructables and a feature in Make: magazine. Behind the sensation was Tim Anderson, who showed that in just ten minutes, using only a bed sheet and rope, you can create a backyard oasis.

Whether store-bought or homemade, a hammock needs supports. To start things off, survey your property for a pair of uprights spaced six to nine feet apart. For a flatter, more bed-like experience, consider using a three-way, triangular setup, as shown. They don’t need to be trees, but your chosen supports do need to be sturdy.

Next, get your bed sheet ready for its new role. (Note that if you’d rather not sacrifice a sheet to the cause, you can try a tarp or drop cloth instead.) Lay the sheet so that you can clearly see its top and bottom edges. Now proceed to knot the fabric, once for every support you plan to employ. Three supports? You need three knots.

The last step is to hang the hammock. Using a Lark’s Head knot, fasten one length of rope to each of the two or three knotted points you made in the sheet. That leaves two or three rope ends, each to be tied to a different support. Here, too, use a Lark’s Head knot or whatever knot you feel most comfortable with. That’s it!

As Anderson says, “If you don’t fall, it means you did it right.”

FOR MORE: Instructables

Homemade Hammock - View 2