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posted: 5/6/2012 1:00 AM

Get Your Summer On features ideas to spruce up yard

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Earlier this year, we asked Daily Herald readers to get in the mood for summer by telling us why their backyards need a makeover.

Boy, did you respond. Nearly 300 readers submitted photos with essays describing why they needed to spruce up their patios and yards as part of our "Get Your Summer On" series and contest.

There were misbehaving puppies who like to dig holes. Flooding. Crabgrass takeovers. Cracking patios and drooping fences. There were homeowners who have been in their houses for decades and wanted to refurbish. There were also new homeowners who didn't know where to start. And there was the homeowner featured here who had to contend with rebuilding after a devastating fire.

Our panel of experts selected 20 backyards, which will be featured for the next five weeks, along with makeover ideas from our contest sponsors to fit various tastes and budgets. All 20 of the finalists will receive a $50 gift certificate to Lurvey's Garden Center in Des Plaines.

In the end, two winners will receive backyard makeover packages of about $15,000 each, consisting of donations from a variety of our sponsors. The winning homes will be featured in the June 10 edition of Home and Garden. Check online for more photos and ideas from our contest sponsors -- everything from patio furniture and grills to outdoor lighting, patios, landscaping and even a pond. Go to

Even if your yard wasn't selected, we hope you will get lots of ideas on how to spruce up your outdoor living space.

In addition, make sure to check out our Food section starting on Wednesday for advice and tips on how to give that grill of yours a workout. Our five-week grilling university offers recipes and advice on cooking everything from burgers to fish to pizza, as well as tips on the drinks to serve your guests.

It's time to get your summer going!

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