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updated: 5/6/2013 3:27 PM

Outdoor makeover contest: Week 1 finalists

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It's time to get in a summer state of mind and that means it's time for our outdoor makeover contest.

For the second year, Daily Herald readers submitted photos with essays telling us why they needed to get their patios and yards in shape as part of our "Get Your Summer On" series and contest.

We asked. You answered. There stories of flooding -- plenty of flooding. Misbehaving dogs that liked to dig. Crabgrass takeovers. Weeds galore! Cracking patios and drooping fences. There were families that have been in their homes for decades who desperately wanted a new look. There were also brand new homeowners who didn't have a clue as to where to start.

A panel of experts selected 20 backyards, which will be featured for the next five weeks, along with transformation ideas from our contest sponsors to fit various tastes and budgets. All 20 of the finalists will receive a $50 gift certificate from one of our sponsors.

In the end, four winners will receive backyard makeover packages of about $5,000 each, consisting of donations from a variety of our sponsors. The winning homes will be features in the June 16 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

Check each week to see if your yard was selected. Even if your yard wasn't picked this year, we know 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.

Hey, the weather is finally warming up. It's time to get your summer on!

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