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Prepare your home for outdoor entertaining this summer

(BPT) - After a long winter trapped indoors, nothing beats a great backyard get-together to catch up with old friends, introduce yourself to new neighbors or just enjoy a beautiful...

(BPT) - After a long winter trapped indoors, nothing beats a great backyard get-together to catch up with old friends, introduce yourself to new neighbors or just enjoy a beautiful day.

Now that the weather is warmer, you may be thinking about your first gathering of the season, but before the guests arrive, get your backyard in shape with these easy and affordable tips.

* Take advantage of green space. One of the first things guests will notice about your backyard is the yard itself so give your lawn a little TLC before the day of the event. Mow the lawn and bag the clippings if your grass is long - this will prevent those stragglers from sticking to your guests' shoes and feet. Next, trim the bushes and pick up any lose sticks or toys that may be lying on the lawn so guests won't step on or trip over something they wish they hadn't.

* Make patio furniture sparkle. Your guests will want a place to sit and relax, so pull your patio furniture out from storage and give it a thorough cleaning with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. You can also sprinkle a little baking soda underneath the chair cushions to keep your outdoor furniture fresh all season long.

* Add a dash of color. Nothing complements your green space like a little pop of color. If you have a flower box, head to your local home-improvement store and pick-up flowers to suit your style. If you don't have a flower box, you can purchase inexpensive planters and hang them in your backyard. If you have time, paint the flower boxes in a complementary color.

* Get the grill ready. If your annual summer tradition includes barbequing, make sure the grill is ready to be the center of attention. Sprinkle Arm & Hammer Baking Soda on a damp brush to scrub the grill clean. For tough, greasy stains, scrub with a wire brush and a paste of three parts baking soda to one part warm water. No matter which cleaning regimen you use, remember to rinse the grill thoroughly after scrubbing.

* Make your deck shine. The deck is a frequent stopping point for guests, especially if it's near the grill or coolers, so give it a thorough power wash to remove winter residue. For wood decks, check that all of the boards are structurally sound and that none have elevated nails or splinters. If you have time, consider putting a fresh coat of water sealer on your deck to make it shine all season long.

Whether you're hosting a barbecue, evening soiree or pool party, taking simple steps to prep and clean your home now will save you time and stress in the future. For more ways Arm & Hammer Baking Soda can help get your patio and yard ready for the summer season, visit ArmandHammer.com.

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