Bright potted blooms add color and curb appeal to your yard. (Kristina Paukshtite/

Take your backyard entertaining zones from neglected to fabulous with tips from our Cleaning Lab.


Nothing brings an outdoor space to life like plants and flowers.

Save Plants and Grass

Before using cleaners, soak nearby plants, bushes and grass with water, which will keep detergent runoff from damaging them. Or, use a product like Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean. It cleans and removes mildew from concrete, wood and more without damaging surrounding grass and plants.

Put Pots on Wheels

Prior to filling heavy containers with plants, set the pots on rolling stands. They’ll be easier to move around and get out of the way when it’s time to clean your deck or patio.

Prune Plants

Pinch back or deadhead flowers as needed to encourage blooming so your containers will fill in nicely. No time to garden before guests arrive? Plop new blooms, pots and all, into the planter to fill it up. Remember to remove the plastic pots and replant them promptly before hot weather arrives.

Hide the Hose

A twisted and knotted garden hose lying on a deck or patio is both an eyesore and a tripping hazard. Wind your hose on a reel or inside a decorative lidded hose pot to keep it out of sight.

Switch Positions

Rotate containers and change the locations of hanging baskets from time to time in order to maximize light exposure on all sides so the plants will look balanced instead of lopsided.


A pristine barbecue looks nicer, lasts longer and cooks better-tasting food too!

Degrease Grates

Fire up the grill for a few minutes. Shut it off and, before it’s totally cool, go over the grates with a heavy-duty scrub pad (not a wire brush) to remove food bits. You also can do this right before starting to cook, as the grill is heating. To clean cool grates in just two minutes, try GH Lab pick Parker & Bailey BBQ Grill Cleaner and Degreaser.

Cover Ground

Place a barbecue pad under the grill to keep spills and grease stains off your patio and cut down on cleaning. With breathable mats made of lightweight concrete and fiber, like GH Lab pick DiversiTech Original Grill Pad, mildew isn’t an issue, as it is with rubber and plastic types. Clean them with a hose.

Prevent Stains

Protect wooden side tables from dribbles and drips with small plastic cutting boards. They’re good for taking utensils inside and to the dishwasher. Keep cleaning wipes handy to nab splatters before they bake on.

Invest in a Good Grill Cover

A cover protects the grill from the elements, which will extend its life — and you’ll never need to clean dirt, pollen or bird droppings off it again. Hose the cover clean.


Your Body: ‘Do’ Diet

Fed up with living in a world of don’ts? So are we. That’s why we developed the ‘Do’ Diet, a radical new way of living that’s full of easy do’s to get you on the healthiest track.

DO: Eat White Foods

Some colorless foods — squishy bread, pastries and low-nutrient refined sugar — deserve their less-than-stellar reps. But some pale foods are packed with goodness. Add cream-colored veggies and legumes to salads and stews, and use low-fat dairy in dressings and toppings. Some to try: cauliflower, kohlrabi, jicama, parsnips and celery root.

DO: Block Blue Light

Too much blue light — artificial illumination emanating from lamps and devices — can inhibit melatonin production, so your body doesn’t know when it’s bedtime. Yellow-tinted blue-light-blocking glasses and lens filters, available from an optometrist, can help: Wearers in one study slept 24 minutes longer and had 58 percent higher melatonin levels. “Wearing them for even an hour before bedtime will have a positive effect,” said co-author Lisa Ostrin, O.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Colorations extra-large crayons, sold exclusively online at from June 2017 through October 2017 for about $36.

The red crayons in the multi-color sets can contain glass, posing a laceration hazard to the user. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled crayons and contact Discount School Supply to obtain a free full replacement set. Discount School Supply is contacting all known purchasers directly. Consumers can contact Discount School Supply at 800-338-4430 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, email at or online at Click on “Safety Information” for more information.

2017-2018 Ford F-150

2018 Ford Expedition, Mustang and Lincoln Navigator

A roll pin may not have been installed in the transmission, potentially causing a loss of the park function. Despite the transmission shift lever being placed in park and the instrument panel display indicating “Park,” the vehicle may roll away after it has been exited if the parking brake has not been applied, increasing the risk of injury or a crash. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the transmission to make sure it has the roll pin, installing one if it is missing, for free. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 18S09.