There's a lot of confusion over when and how much to prune your shrubs. For spring flowering plants like azaleas, this is the optimum time to gently shape them. (Ignore summer-blooming plants until fall or winter, or you'll prevent the growth of flowers.) The general rule of thumb: Wait until the blooms have faded and you have signs of healthy new growth. Then cut lengths of branches for a natural, rounded looking plant. Beware of over-pruning, which can shock and damage the growth.
Build a Bench
When it comes to patio seating, why buy when you can DIY? A bench is the perfect project for furniture building novices as well as the pros. With the right tools and building plans, this project can be completed in the course of an afternoon. Whether you work with solid hardwood or repurpose an old door or pallet, the sturdy new bench is sure to become the focal point of your backyard space.
Create an Outdoor Lawn Game
Warm summer days call for backyard barbecues, cocktail parties, and game nights galore. Prep for outdoor entertainment by creating your very own lawn games, like this cornhole board. Or paint your own Twister board directly on the lawn using a few cans of spray paint (the kind that's specifically suitable for grass). Let the games begin!
For a summery pop of color that you can enjoy year-round, turn a lazy afternoon into an indoor paint project. Brighten unexpected spaces like the inside of your kitchen cabinets, dresser drawer interiors, a closet door, or even stair risers.
Clean the Mattress
Be honest: When is the last time you made it a point to clean your mattress? If you can't recall, it's time for a refresh in order to eliminate dust mites and deodorize your sleeping quarters. Remove the mattress cover, and use a vacuum attachment to clear away crumbs, pet hair, and more from the cushion top. Then sprinkle the surface with baking soda to deodorize. Let that sit for at least a couple hours before vacuuming clean.
Grow Your Own
What's more rewarding than harvesting summer's bounty from your own backyard? It's not too late to get started now for a steady supply of seasonal produce. Check your zone before choosing the varieties you'd like to grow, then pick up some seeds or starter plants from your farmers' market or local garden center. In most zones, June is a great time for growing strawberries, beans, melons, and more.
Undoubtedly, the best time to refinish the floors is before you even move in. But if you're past that point, it's also a good project to tackle in fair weather, when you can open the windows to help ventilate the room. Simply move furniture and fixtures into a garage, screened porch, or covered patio until the finish has set. You can even try to make your renovation project match up with your vacation plans. A few days away, and your floors will once again be ready to walk on when you return.
Build a Fire Pit
There's nothing quite like gathering the family around a backyard fire on a warm summer night. If you don't have one of your own, making one is a simple affair. First, contact your local government to find out if there are any restrictions in your area, then set to work designing yours. Then be sure to ask for help from a local home center when choosing stones or bricks for your fire pit, as not all materials can withstand high heat.
Install a Backyard Shed
Maybe you need some extra storage for lawn and garden gear, or maybe you want a simple outdoor structure to serve as an unconventional hangout or home office. Whatever the case, a simple shed will fit the bill. A prefab model is a breeze to install in an afternoon, or build your own using a set of simple plans.
Whether you're downsizing to a smaller home, or just looking to declutter the one you're living in, now's a great time to simplify. Take inventory of all that you have and make a pile of what you can do without. Be honest: If you're swimming in extra sheets or hanging onto a set of broken tools, let go. Drive usable goods over to the local charity shop or hold a yard sale so that your old junk can get a second life.
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.