Can you believe it? July 4th is already underway—but that means some serious preparations are in order. If you’re starting to feel the stress of getting your yard and house ready for the festivities, you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you follow these three steps, you’re set for a beautiful July 4th celebration.
▢ First Things First: Hang a Flag
No July 4th celebration is complete without the stars and stripes. That being said, there is definitely an etiquette to handling and hanging the American Flag. Whether you’re running it up the flagpole or you have some temporary paper or plastic flags, here are a couple helpful hints to help you avoid a July 4th faux pas.
- Begin flying the flag in the morning and be sure to take it down around sunset
- If you have a spotlight, angle it toward the flag to illuminate the stars and stripes
- If you have multiple flags on the same flag pole, be sure that the American flag is at the top
- Do not let the flag touch the ground
- Do not fly the flag upside down
▢ Create a Bug-Free Cookout
Cookouts are a July 4th staple. For this reason, be sure to organize an outside space for entertaining guests. It will cut down on the mess in your house, provide a spot for yard games, and allow everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. However, there are some safety concerns about partying in the yard.
According to an NPR report, “Since the early ’90s, reported cases of Lyme disease have tripled, to about 30,000 cases each year.” The CDC thinks the actual number is about 1000% higher.
To ensure your yard is safe for kids, pets, and guests, find a local company that can treat your lawn for these pesky critters. “The population of ticks has exploded,” says Mark Conklin, Co-owner of Team Turf, a fertilization, weed control, and bug treatment company. For this reason he asserts, “If you haven’t started treatments for ticks, now is the time to do so… Lyme Disease is very serious.” If you choose not to hire a professional company there are some very good over-the-counter yard tick and mosquito control products that can help reduce your risk.
But it’s not just ticks that are a serious concern, it’s mosquitos. Conklin highly recommends a treatment for these pests as well. “In the realm of health concerns, treating properties for mosquitos is a good way to lower the chances of West Nile. We mist all the plants and shrubs around your property; it’s a very safe treatment.”
So far in 2017 the numbers of mosquitoes that have been tested positive for West Nile in Pennsylvania Counties are relatively low, but the summer is still young. Check out PA’s West Nile Virus Control Program to check your location (as of now, West Nile has been spotted in Lawrence, Centre, Lackawanna, Schuylkill, Berks, Cumberland, York, Chester, Delaware, and Bucks County).
If you’re concerned about pets and children playing in the yard post treatment, Conklin notes that any chemicals you use should be as safe as possible and dry fast. “With [Team Turf’s] product, you’re safe to go on the lawn after 24 hours,” he adds.
The patio, porch, and yard can get pretty scary when the arachnids start coming out to feast. “We also do exterior spider proofing,” says Conklin. While most of the time, spiders are more scary than harmful, knowing you don’t have any creepy crawlers nearby can help provide you with peace of mind .
▢ Do Some Quick Landscaping
A beautiful yard can make for a significantly better experience. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has compiled a few key areas to focus on when designing a space:
- Promoting Social Connectedness
- Ease of Movement
- Sensory Stimulation
Safety: Keep your guests at ease by keeping some simple provisions in close vicinity. Have water on hand to extinguish fireworks, sunscreen to avoid sunburns, and drinking water and/or sports drinks to avoid dehydration.
Social Connectedness: When organizing tables and chairs, be mindful of how people like to sit together. Try to arrange seating in circles around a central location to facilitate conversation and socialization.
Ease of Movement: Keep the boundaries of your yard clearly outlined. This will give your guests an idea of where they can sit, play, light off fireworks, etc. To help with this, think about mulching around the perimeter vegetation around your yard.
“Team Turf has a supply yard where we sell landscape supplies, fertilizers, weed controls, gravel, top soil, mulch, and even colored rubber mulch (it comes in green, blue, black, brown, and red), which holds its color for a long time,” says Conklin. Although rubber mulch sounds strange, it’s becoming ever more popular. The manufacturing process removes harmful metals and elements from the faux bark.
Sensory Stimulation: To provide some sensory stimulation, you can always pick up some fireworks for a nice night time display. Just be sure to follow all safety precautions! In 2016, 11,900 people were taken to the hospital for firework-related injuries, according to a Consumer Product Safety Commission report.
If fireworks aren’t for you, focus on cultivating a breathtaking yard. To ensure your grass doesn’t lose it’s green, Conklin recommends three simple tips:
1. Water your grass regularly
2. Cut it high, around 3 ½ inches
3. Get a regular fertilization and weed control treatment
“I recommend people getting on a regular [fertilization] program, and to water their grass frequently to keep their yard looking nice,” Conklin says. “If you do that, your yard should be looking really good for the 4th of July. Also, keep your lawn safe for your family. Keep the fleas and ticks out of the yard and spray for the mosquitos. There are a lot of bugs out there but there are a lot ways we can keep your yard safe. It’s not always a beautification thing, it’s about safety.”