Weekly Home Help with how to get laundry done faster, ornamental grasses, a home-selling tip and more.

Do the laundry in less time by following these tips:


* Take a few seconds to spot treat tough stains.


* Don't sort laundry before throwing it into the washer. Simply leave out garments that are likely to bleed and use the coldest water setting on the rest.


* Use the shortest wash cycle, and then treat your load to an extra spin cycle. This will wick away extra moisture and cut down on drying time.


* If you have kids old enough to hit the mall, it's time for them to start pitching in. Assign specific tasks, such as sorting or folding.


* Stash stray items in cupboard organizers for easy sorting.


-- Family Features


Decorating Tip: Buying linens


Thread count is very important when selecting linens. The thread count is the number of yarns in a square inch of fabric. Generally, a higher thread count means lighter, suppler fabric. However, the higher the thread count, the more expensive the sheets will be. Consider thread count if you are looking for durability. We recommend a thread count of 200 or more. The higher the number, the tighter the weave and the stronger the sheet.


-- HGTV/ Scripps Howard News Service


Home-Selling Tip: Keep a clear driveway


When buyers pull up to your house, they will be looking at the size of the front yard and driveway. Make both look bigger by parking your car inside a garage or on the street. Pick up any front yard clutter, like toys and garden tools, and keep the pathway to the front door clear of dirt, pebbles or twigs.


-- FrontDoor.com.


Did You Know …


Existing-home sales increased 3.4 percent from March to April and are 10 percent higher than 2011 numbers. -- Realtor.org


Going Green: Straw Wars


The Straw Wars initiative in London's SoHo neighborhood encourages bars, restaurants and clubs to stop providing straws unless customers specifically ask for one. Straws are difficult to recycle because not many restaurants offer recycling, and billions end up in the landfill each year.


-- Earth911.com


Garden Guide: Ornamental grass


Ornamental grasses are quite popular because of their color, texture, form and winter interest, but there are other plants that can be equally interesting in the garden and that often get overlooked.


"They are the rushes," said University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Greg Stack. "Rushes are not true grasses, but they look grassy."


Close to 300 species of rush are found throughout the world. Most are native to wet or moist sites in fresh or salt water. Although they are usually found along streams, in marshy areas, or in shallow water, some can tolerate seasonal drought. Rushes can be found in sun or shade, but they grow best in light shade.


GateHouse News Service