Category: Spring

Making the Most of Family Vacations

Family vacations can seem like daunting endeavors to organize, as planners must cater to each member of the family and their individual needs. Family vacations can cost several thousand dollars, which only adds to the pressure planners may be under. But careful planning makes it possible to simplify the process so more time can be spent resting, relaxing and having fun.

Child-friendly hotel

One of the “musts” when booking a family vacation is finding the right accommodations. This often means booking rooms at family-friendly hotels. Things to look for when seeking hotels include amenities like swimming pools and recreation areas, nearby parks and other attractions that kids can enjoy, and easy access to stores that sell necessities. When booking a room, request one that is close to the elevator or the breakfast buffet. If you have youngsters who nap or go to bed early, try to book adjoining rooms or one-bedroom suites. This way the kids are tucked in but accessible, allowing adults to enjoy their downtime.

Plan the trip together

Get the entire family involved when planning a vacation and let children who are old enough to have a say in some of the travel plans. Let kids choose some activities, pick some restaurants or even select which seats to sit in on the airplane.

Pack as lightly as possible

Pack light and, if possible, buy some necessities when you arrive. Few things can be as headache-inducing as dragging along extra luggage with kids in tow. Choosing a hotel or resort with laundry facilities can be advantageous to active families who may get messy along the way.

Allow for downtime

While it’s beneficial to have an itinerary, leave some moments for spontaneity and rest. You don’t want to return home so tired from the trip that you need another break. Use downtime as opportunities for kids to lead the way.

Travel off the beaten path

Mature children may like sights and sounds that aren’t necessarily designed for kids. So while it may be tempting to stick to big-name resorts that cater to families, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had exploring lesser-known islands or villages. And while you’re at it, introduce children to native cuisines so they can broaden their culinary palates.

Relive the memories

Make lasting vacation memories more by putting together a photo album or scrapbook.

Create an Inviting Outdoor Living Environment

Be ready to enjoy the warm days of spring and summer with an “updated” outdoor dining/living/garden area that is welcoming and efficient. Woodcraft has the tools and supplies you will need, along with helpful advice at your local store and free how-to articles on Woodcraft.com.

Projects

Take stock of your outdoor furniture — do you need more? Would colorful new Adirondack chairs, a new picnic table and maybe a garden bench and planters be more inviting? Or perhaps a cleanup and new paint would bring your existing furniture to life for another season? Does your porch/patio/deck area need to be resurfaced or enlarged? Streamline your dining by building mobile carts to transport food for prep and for serving. Add a butcher block top to the food prep cart and storage drawers to both, and improve the efficiency and pleasure of your dining experience. Gardeners may want to build a potting bench and wooden flatbed wagon to haul plants and supplies.

Tools, Supplies and How-Tos

“Make anywhere your workspace with the Kreg Mobile Project Center,” Woodcraft senior product manager Peter Collins said. “It’s a portable workbench, sawhorse, assembly table, and clamping station all in one that provides a versatile work space for DIY, repair, and woodworking projects.” The large 273⁄4″ x 311⁄2″ polypropylene work surface supports a 350-lb. load capacity, and two centers can be connected to double the work area. Collins also suggested adding the new Kreg In-line Bench Clamp and Bench Clamp System for Dog Holes to make almost every clamping task possible. Visit Woodcraft.com to see Building Plans for Outdoor Furniture, as well as Adirondack chair templates.

Woodcraft.com also offers a large number of how-to articles such as “Laid Back in a Classic Adirondack” that shows how to build with Adirondack chair templates, while “WoodSense: Spotlight on Outdoor Projects,” describes woods that work well outdoors. For building projects, the Freeman 11⁄4″ 18-Gauge Brad Nailer is a professional quality, innovative home improvement tool that is great for furniture. Its oil-free operation requires no regular maintenance and eliminates the risk of stains on project surfaces.

If your joinery choice requires screws, the Groz Insta Drive Screwdriver features a patented retractable, rotating bit cartridge that makes it easy to find, store and change driver bits. For hauling lumber or other large items to your project site, use the Xstrap Heavy Duty Ratchet Tie Down to hold up to 1,000 pounds in place on a truck bed. To finish new furniture or recolor existing pieces — and brighten your outdoor landscape — choose one of the 28 premixed General Finishes Milk Paint colors that can be mixed, lightened, glazed, layered, antiqued, or distressed.

Other good choices for outdoor surfaces include General Finishes Outdoor Oil Finish (use over exterior oil stain or exterior clear oil finishes for additional protection) and General Finishes 450 Varnish (minimizes fading, retards mold and fungus growth).

For painting guidance, watch “Hand Applied Milk Paint from General Finishes at Woodcraft” and read “Create a Milk Paint Masterpiece” on Woodcraft.com. HOMERIGHT’s Finish Max HVLP Sprayer will spray most solvent (except lacquer and conversion varnish) or water-based products — latex paint, milk paint, chalk paint, furniture paint, stains, and finishes. It’s easy to set up, use and clean. When painting furniture, consider using the HOMERIGHT Large Spray Shelter. When painting small accessories, opt for the Small Spray Shelter.

For furniture that needs some TLC, read “Restoring Outdoor Projects” on Woodcraft.com to learn how to determine what needs to be deep cleaned, repaired, rebuilt and repainted. Handy helpers for the TLC process include Blue Bear Paint and Urethane Stripper, Krud Kutter No-Rinse Prepaint Cleaner, Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue, SculpWood Putty, and Briwax ChaiRX.

Garden & Game Projects

Turn a unique transplanter, cultivator and weeder with the three-piece WoodRiver Garden Tool Turning Kit constructed of durable, cast aluminum. Turning blanks for the handle, sold separately, may be made from wood, acrylic or another man-made material. Build a wooden croquet set with help from “Picnic Perfect Croquet Set” in Issue 65 of Woodcraft Magazine. Subscribers can download the article free, or the issue can be purchased at Woodcraft.com.

To learn more about these and other products, visit your local Woodcraft store, call (800) 535-4482 or visit www.Woodcraft.com.

Early-Blooming Spring Flowers

The arrival of spring is a welcome occurrence for many people. Budding flowers are among the harbingers of spring. Spring flowers can revitalize winter-weary people just when they need it most — and provide reassurance that brighter, warmer and longer hours of sunlight are just around the corner. Cold-tolerant flowers are hardy enough to start blooming before the last frosts have dissipated. Other flowers will begin to fill in as days warm a little bit more, according to Better Homes and Gardens. Home gardeners looking to warm up their gardens with early blooms can use these flowers in their early-season containers, window boxes and planting beds.

Pansy

Pansies prefer cool weather, which can make them one of the best flowers to plant in early spring and late fall. Pansies come in a variety of colors, so there’s bound to be an offering that will blend with any homeowners’ landscape design.

Creeping phlox

Also known “moss phlox,” creeping phlox is a short ground-cover that is a herbaceous perennial. Phlox produces small, fragrant flowers in dense clusters, which can attract wildlife, such as butterflies, to their mats across the soil surface.

Snowdrops

Snowdrops can peek out even when there is snow still on the ground — sometimes as early as January and February. But their name is actually a reference to their appearance, as snowdrops have three white petals that hang down like drops dripping off the stem.

Violets

These flowers are closely related to pansies and, as a result, prefer cool seasons. Violets are generally slightly smaller than pansy blooms, but they can be just as beautiful. But as with pansies, violets will start to fade when the heat arrives.

Crocus

Crocus plants are relatively small, only reaching three to six inches in height. However, their grass-like leaves are some of the first sprouts that can be seen among bulb and corm plantings. Preferring full to partial sun, these gold, purple, lavender, white, or yellow flowers can be enjoyed during the earliest days of spring.

Daffodil

Daffodil bulbs produce cheerful, yellow flowers in early spring. They’re one of the most recognizable flowers thanks to their familiar shape and fragrant aroma.

Lenten rose

Hellebores, also called the Lenten rose or Christmas rose, can tolerate light frosts. These blooms get their name from the time of year when they bloom, which is typically around the Christian Lenten season. Despite their name, these delicate flowers are not actually related to roses, however.

Early-blooming flowers give winter-weary gardeners hope that spring has arrived.

Keep Pets Cool, Comfortable & Safe During Hot Weather

Summer may be a time for vacations and recreational activities for human beings, but pets may not be privy to the same luxuries. Summer recreation may not always include our four-legged friends, as summer heat and other issues can pose a threat to companion animals. As a result, pet parents must make pet safety a priority when the weather heats up.

The Humane Society of the United States says that the summer months can be uncomfortable and dangerous for pets. Temperatures that may be tolerable for adults and children who are dressed accordingly may not be so for animals covered in fur. It’s vital to help pets stay comfortable and safe as summer temperatures heat up. Pet parents also must be aware of particular dangers that go hand-in-hand with summertime activities.

· Practice vehicle safety. It is never acceptable to leave pets in parked cars, even for a minute. Temperatures inside vehicles can rise quickly and considerably in a matter of minutes, even with the windows opened slightly. HSUS says on an 85-degree-day, temperatures inside parked cars can reach 102 F within 10 minutes. Pets can suffer irreversible and even fatal organ damage in that period of time. If you have to run errands, keep dogs and cats at home where they will be more comfortable.

· Stay off of hot asphalt. If you’ve ever walked on the hot sand or an asphalt driveway on a hot day, you understand just how scorching those surfaces can get. Dogs and cats do not have protective shoes to wear, so safeguard the delicate pads of their paws by keeping companion animals off of hot surfaces. Schedule walks in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler.

· Schedule a pet grooming visit. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation suggests speaking with your veterinarian to see if it’s appropriate for your pet to get clipped shorter or to be shaved in the summer. But a fur coat can offer protection from the sun, so weigh the pros and cons before taking action. Apply sunscreen to your dog’s skin if he or she has a thin coat.

· Provide a way for pets to cool off. If you’re hot, chances are your pet is hot, too. Offer a means for pets too cool off, such as a wading pool when you are outside. Offer plenty of fresh water. Keep pets who do not enjoy the heat indoors with the air conditioner running on hot days.

· Look for indicators of heat stress. The American Veterinary Association says heat stress is marked by heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs. Move pets exhibiting such symptoms to a cool place, drape a damp towel over the animal’s body, rewetting the cloth frequently, and get the animal to the vet as soon as you possibly can.

· Exercise caution in the water. Dogs can get swept away by rip currents just like human swimmers. If you will be boating, invest in a life jacket for your pooch and look for water hazards, such as currents, sink holes, and blue-green algae in lakes and ponds.

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Keep Cool in the Face of Summer Heat

The month of August is often referred to as “the dog days of summer,” a phrase that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The “dog days” are a reference to the dog star, Sirius, which appeared to rise just before the sun in late July, when temperatures were at their hottest. As a result, the phrase “dog days” remains synonymous with summer heat in the Northern Hemisphere.

Keeping cool during the dog days of summer can be difficult, especially for people who live in humid climates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States, with the National Vital Statistics System reporting a total of more than 7,400 deaths between 1999 and 2010. Many of those deaths could have been prevented had people taken steps to keep cool in the face of summer heat.

· Choose wisely when spending time outdoors. As hot as summer can be, many people still want to enjoy some time outdoors. You don’t have to spend summer indoors to survive the summer heat, but it helps to choose the time you spend outdoors wisely. Avoid spending time outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Temperatures soar and peak during these hours, and the American Melanoma Foundation notes that UV radiation reaches its peak intensity at approximately 1 p.m. The more intense that UV radiation is, the more susceptible people are to UV-related sun damage to their skin. If you prefer to exercise outdoors during the summer, do so in the early morning or in the evening, when temperatures tend to be lower and UV radiation is less of a threat.

· Limit time spent outside. It’s okay to spend time outside in the summer, just make sure you are not outside for extended periods of time on hot days. Exposure to sustained heat can adversely affect the body’s ability to sweat. Sweat might be uncomfortable, but it helps to regulate body temperature by cooling the body. People who cannot sweat or suddenly stop perspiring can succumb to heat exhaustion or heat stroke very quickly. If you must spend time outdoors on hot days, take periodic breaks to go indoors, heading inside immediately if you realize your body is no longer producing sweat.

· Stay hydrated. Come the dog days of summer, keep a water bottle with you at all times, refilling it throughout the day as necessary. The American Heart Association notes that the heart can more easily pump blood through blood vessels to the muscles when it is hydrated. That means the heart isn’t working as hard as it would have to if you were not staying hydrated. Dehydration reduces the body’s ability to sweat and maintain a normal body temperature, so stay hydrated on hot days by drinking water throughout the day.

· Make cool dietary choices. When planning meals on hot days, choose light foods and opt for small portions so you aren’t fighting feelings of sluggishness that can compound any heat-related feelings of listlessness you’re already coping with. In addition, choose meals that don’t require you to turn on the oven. Hot ovens can make homes, even those with fully functioning air conditioning systems, far less comfortable on especially hot days.

The dog days of summer are often marked by humidity and blazing sun. Overcoming those factors may require altering certain habits.

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Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Tips

Family vacations provide wonderful opportunities for families to bond and make lasting memories. But such opportunities do not come without a price, and that price is oftentimes very steep.

According to the 2015 TripBarometer study from popular travel website TripAdvisor, travelers across the globe are open to spending more on travel in 2016 than they have in the past. The study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by the independent research firm Ipsos, analyzed more than 44,000 responses from travelers and hoteliers across the globe. Thirty-three percent of respondents plan to spend more on travel in 2016 than they did in 2015, while 31 percent admitted that they plan to spend more on travel because it’s important for their health and well-being.

Those figures are good news for the travel industry, but travelers, especially parents who plan to vacation with their children, should expect to encounter rising room rates when planning their trips. That’s because nearly half of all hoteliers surveyed indicated their intentions to increase room rates in 2016. While that might scare off some budget-conscious travelers, parents should know there are ways to cut the costs of family vacations.

· Consider alternative accommodations. Families accustomed to staying in hotels while on vacation may be able to save by exploring some budget-friendly alternatives to hotels. Vacation rental properties, which may include private homes or condominiums, may charge less per day than four- or five-star hotels in the same city. Before booking accommodations, parents should explore all lodging options, including online bed and breakfast websites that may showcase private homes that boast lower nightly rates than large hotel chains.

· Book through a travel agency. Many travelers now book their own vacations through popular do-it-yourself travel websites such as Orbitz, but going it alone may not be the most cost-effective approach for families. Many travel agency representatives are accustomed to working with travelers who are on a budget and building vacations that include all the sights their clients want to see for the amount they’re willing to spend. Travel agency representatives typically have considerable connections in the countries they specialize in, and those connections can produce memorable experiences at lower costs than travelers would likely pay booking the trips on their own. In addition, many travel agencies include the cost of admissions to various sights in their packages, making it easier for travelers to budget for their trips.

· Scour discount websites for deals. E-commerce marketplaces such as Groupon aren’t just for date nights at home. Such websites and services also provide domestic and international travel deals. Families can book entire trips through such websites, many times at considerable discounts, or scour the sites for deals on sightseeing opportunities in the cities where they will be vacationing.

· Plan to cook. Meals can quickly consume travelers’ budgets. The Consumer Expenditure Survey released in 2015 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that food and alcohol can take up about 16 percent of the budget for international travelers, and 27 percent for domestic travelers. Such estimates seem low and might reflect the difficulty surveyors had distinguishing between travelers who visited friends and family, and subsequently spent little on food, and travelers who had to purchase all of their vacation meals. Families can cut meal costs by planning to do some of their own cooking. Rental properties and extended stay hotels are typically equipped with full kitchens, which can help parents save money without sacrificing the quality of their vacations.

Families looking forward to their next vacations can implement several strategies to make those trips affordable.

How Families Can Make Staycations More Unique

As a result of the economic downturn that began in 2008, many families found themselves forgoing traditional vacations in favor of “staycations.” In such instances, families spent time away from work and school together but did not travel far, if at all.
While the economy has bounced back since the dawn of the staycation, many families are still choosing to stay at home in an effort to save money. Staycations might not seem as glamorous as traveling abroad or as relaxing as spending a week in an oceanfront resort or condominium, but there are ways for families to make staycations more fun and seem like a true departure from everyday life.

• Experiment with new cuisine.

One of the joys of travel is the opportunity to dine out and experience cuisine native to particular locales. But families don’t need to travel abroad to enjoy this particular benefit of traveling. The internet is home to a wealth of recipes from countries far and wide. Parents and their kids can choose recipes online and prepare meals from a different country each night, or pick a “country or region of the week” and prepare a different dish native to that area each night. This provides a great departure from ordinary family dinners and can make for a fun activity for the whole family.

• Camp out.

Straying from the norm, even when staying at home, can make staycations seem more like a vacation than merely a week away from school or the office. Parents who want to add a dash of adventure to their families’ staycations can set up tents in the backyard and sleep under the stars or seek out local campsites that are free or relatively inexpensive. Tell stories around a backyard firepit when staying at home to provide a more authentic camping experience for everyone.

• Take in local culture.

Rather than spending the week lounging around the house or the backyard pool, families can explore the cultural opportunities in their towns or cities. Busy families tend to take such opportunities for granted when they get caught up in the daily grind, and exploring local history and artistic opportunities in the same way you would when traveling can provide a sense of excitement similar to that experienced during more traditional vacations. Visit a local zoo, take in a performance at a local theater company or take a guided historical tour of an area of your hometown or a nearby city.

• Indulge in an extraordinary activity.

While families typically choose staycations to save money, forgetting the budget to enjoy one extraordinary activity can make a staycation more fun and memorable. Spend one day during the staycation doing something the family would not ordinarily do, be it visiting an all-day amusement park, taking a helicopter tour of a nearby city or going to a ballgame. Such a break from the norm, even if it’s only for a single night, can make staycations feel more like vacations.
Staycations have become an economic necessity for many families, and there are many ways for parents to make such times as enjoyable and unique as more traditional vacations.

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Create a Safe & Enjoyable Backyard Play Area

Homeowners often aspire to have attractive backyards that look like they belong in a magazine. While these can be picturesque and functional for adults, they may not be entirely practical for homeowners who have young children, especially when the majority of the yard is covered with paving stones or concrete.

When young children are part of a household, homeowners may benefit by designing yards that are both functional and fun. Incorporating safe play areas for kids is one way to unlock the potential of both big and small backyards.

As children run off to enjoy a playground, safety is the last thing on their minds. Kids are most interested in scaling ladders to treehouses or coasting down slides. That’s why adults must take it upon themselves to keep injury prevention in mind.

SafestPlayground.com indicates that playground-related injuries routinely result in severe fractures, internal injuries, concussions, and dislocations. In the majority of playground injuries to children younger than age 5, the head and face are affected. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 experience more leg and arm injuries than younger kids. The Consumer Product Safety Commission states 70 percent of children’s injuries occur on home playgrounds. More than 28,000 children are injured each year on playgrounds across Canada, according to Parachute, a national injury prevention organization.

When considering playground equipment for the yard, parents need to make safety a priority. The Canada Safety Society advises parents to follow the “5 S’s of Playground Safety”: Surface, structures, site, supervision, and safety.

· Surface: Parents should assume that children will fall. To lessen the blow of falls, choose playground equipment with a perimeter of six feet of a softer surface, such as sand, pea gravel, rubber pieces or wood chips. This material should be between six and 12 inches deep.

· Structure: The structure of the play equipment should be built from sturdy materials. Pressure-treated lumber was once the standard, but it’s not adviseable for kids’ playgrounds, as the chemicals used in the lumber can leach and young children may actually bite or pick at the wood. Use cedar or another wood that resists decay. Once the structure is built, inspect it frequently for damage.

· Site: Look around the landscape for an ideal place to locate the playset. There should be no obstacles that children can hit while sliding or swinging. Avoid overhanging branches and do not place equipment too close to trees or fencing. Try to keep the set out of direct sunlight, which can make components heat up and scald young bodies.

· Supervision: Do not leave children alone while they are playing. Prevent children from using the playset in an incorrect manner.

· Safety: Follow the directions for installation. Make sure all posts are anchored into the ground securely. Railings should be spaced so that children cannot get stuck between them. Check that metal components have not rusted and that there is no additional excessive wear. Be sure that no tools or other dangerous items are left around the yard.

Backyard playgrounds should be built with safety in mind. Learn the rules of play equipment and yard safety.

A Key Component of Spring Check-Up

When warm weather arrives, many people enjoy a collective sigh of relief. Just as people welcome the end of the cold, snow and ice, cars and trucks also can benefit from more moderate temperatures.

Salt, grime and pot holes can take a toll on tires over the course of a typical winter. Drivers will not get far this spring and summer without tires in good repair, which is why tire maintenance should be part of any seasonal repair checklist.

Inflation levels

Now is the time to use a tire pressure gauge to see if tires are at the ideal inflation levels. Many tires indicate the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) on their sidewalls. Cold temperatures may cause tires to deflate a little. Esurance states that winter weather can cause tire pressure reduction at about one PSI for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Driving on improperly inflated tires can be dangerous, potentially affecting handling and braking distances.

Check tires when they are cold for the most accurate reading. Properly inflated tires also will improve fuel economy, so drivers may even save a little money by inflating their tires.

Tire rotation/realignment

Examine the tires for tread wear. Any uneven or abnormal tread wear could indicate that the tires need to be rotated and the wheels realigned at the very least. Take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic to get their opinion on how to remedy the situation. Mechanics may recommend rotating tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, or about every six months for the average driver.

Wheel realignment may be necessary after a season of driving over potholes and other irregularities in the road. Misaligned wheels can cause handling problems, like the car “pulling” to one side.

Tire replacement

Drivers may discover extreme tread wear, bulges or even cracks in the sidewall during a tire inspection. These signs indicate that it’s time to replace the tires. Failing to replace old, worn down tires can increase the risk of automobile accidents.

Thorough cleaning

Once tires are inspected and possibly serviced or replaced, treat the car or truck to a washing and thorough detailing. This will help tires shine and get the vehicle road-ready for spring trips.

A More Eco-Friendly Lawn is Just Steps Away

Maintaining a lush lawn is a healthy and rewarding hobby that affords homeowners to spend some time outdoors in nature. Lawn enthusiasts can make their hobby even healthier by adopting several eco-friendly lawn care strategies that not only make for a healthier lawn, but a healthier planet as well.

Responsible landscaping has grown increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more homeowners are adopting eco-friendly lawn care practices in the same way they have embraced environmentally conscious behaviors in other areas of their lives. The following are a handful of ways lawn care enthusiasts can incorporate eco-friendly practices into their landscaping routines.

Maintain an appropriate grass height

When temperatures start to peak in summer, homeowners may be tempted to cut their grass as close as possible so they can reduce the number of afternoons they spend riding or pushing a mower in the hot sun. But cutting too low makes the grass increasingly susceptible to infestations and disease, and such problems may need to be remedied with potentially harmful pesticides if no other approach proves effective. Even if it means an extra afternoon or two mowing under the hot sun, maintaining an appropriate grass height can lead to a healthier lawn, as longer grass soaks up more sunlight, allowing it to grow a deep root system that will help a lawn survive drought and other potential problems.

Cut back on harmful pesticides

Many homeowners now prefer to avoid pesticides at all costs, but sometimes pesticides are a last resort when lawns are falling victim to harmful insects and organisms. Homeowners who want to embrace more eco-friendly lawn care practices can cut back on their use of pesticides, first trying more environmentally friendly options. For example, biopesticides are made from naturally occurring materials, including animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, biopesticides are often inherently less toxic than more conventional pesticides. In addition, biopesticides typically affect only the pest causing the problem, whereas broad spectrum pesticides may affect surrounding organisms, such as birds and mammals, in addition to the targeted pest. The EPA (www.epa.gov) advises homeowners hoping to use biopesticides first learn about managing pests so they can effectively remedy problems on their properties.

Harvest rainwater

Lawns need water, especially when temperatures rise in the summer. But watering lawns can have an adverse effect on your community’s water supply, draining that supply and hurting the community in the long run. Homeowners who can harvest rainwater can drastically reduce their impact on their community water supply, thereby helping the planet and their community, especially if they reside in locales where water resources are traditionally scarce. When rainwater is harvested, it is collected from downspouts before it washes into nearby sewage systems. Many lawn and garden retailers sell rainwater harvesting systems, which homeowners can install themselves or pay a landscaping professional to install for them.

Lay mulch down around trees, shrubs and flower beds

Trees, shrubs and flower beds need water, especially in the summer when rising temperatures pose a threat to plants. Homeowners can cut back on the water they use to protect those plants by laying organic mulch in the spring. Organic mulch conserves moisture in soil, promoting stronger roots in plants and helping homeowners cut back on the amount of watering they need to maintain a garden that’s both healthy and pleasing to the eye. Organic mulch, which might be made of bark, is also heavy, making it hard for ugly weeds that rob plants of water to thrive.