Landscaping and lawn maintenance can take quite a bit of time and investment. As a homeowner, you may feel a little lost when it comes to taking care of your garden and lawn, and you probably have concerns about the cost of upkeep.
This can depend on the size of your lot, of course. But whether you have acres of property or a cozy little yard, chances are you want to spend no more than necessary to maintain it.
With that in mind, pay attention to these five ways you can save money on lawn care.
1. Water Smartly
It can be confusing when to water your lawn and how much water to use. Let’s be honest, you want to save on your water bill and overwatering is a direct cause of a high bill.
The best way to avoid overwatering is by installing a rain gauge to measure rainfall during the week. These are quite inexpensive. Next, use a sprinkler that sprays large drops, instead of one that distributes a high, fine mist of water. Lawns only require approximately 1 inch of water per week, including potential rainfall. Implementing these measures will easily help save on your water bill.
2. Mow to the Right Length
Blame movies and gardening magazines, but homeowners assume their lawn should be cut clean, with a closely cropped appearance.
Since you aren’t living on a golf course, the object of lawn care is to have a beautifully functional lawn and remain economical. First, purchase a proper mower that has sufficient settings. Next, make sure you are mowing to no shorter than two to three inches. This ideal length gives sufficient shade to plants, helping to lock in moisture and reducing the need for watering.
Just remember to keep the “rule-of-third” when it comes to mowing. Never mow more than a third of the grass. Doing this easy tip ensures a healthier lawn, reduces water costs, and the need for fertilizer.
One last thing to remember is keep your mower blades sharp for a smoother cut, which also promotes lawn health and less watering.
3. Know When to Fertilize
Speaking of saving time and money, most homeowners aren’t sure how often to fertilize their lawn or even what to use. Generally, the first time you should fertilize is on Labor Day. That’s when your lawn is the hungriest and it will respond to nutrients well. If you want to apply a second time, do so in October. Fertilizer is basically food for your lawn, so this acts as a “second helping” for your hungry grass.
More fertilizer can be damaging. If the soil in your lawn is sandy, too much fertilizer will soak through the soil and seep into groundwater, lakes, and streams. Grasses are not self-regulating like humans, so all the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from fertilizer weaken lawn grasses and invite disease, ultimately choking your lawn. Often the best thing to do is to contract with a lawn care company who will apply the right lawn fertilizer for your area.
4. Aerate Your Lawn
A method often overlooked is aerating. Aeration is when you use an aeration tool to loosen the soil by poking holes in it. Consider renting a commercial aerator for this task, so you aren’t stuck buying a tool you’ll only use once a year. Or opt for a pair of aerator shoes (which give you a nice leg workout!).
Aeration is another way to save money on water. Lawns are like sponges, aerating gets rid of lawn thatch — that tough, dark brown matter that builds up between the base of grass and soil, leaving your lawn a darker shade, rather than a brighter, green color.
5. Seed, If Need Be
If your lawn is 30 or 40 years old, consider reseeding. Lawns that are aged are more prone to disease and require more watering. Obviously you want to avoid this! Experts recommend that you overseed, as this helps introduce healthier species of grass with what’s already there.
Another key point to remember about reseeding, people often do this at the wrong time of year and waste a lot of money. The optimal time to reseed is in the fall. This gives grass ample growth time which carries into winter and spring. Planting in spring is not wise, as there are only a few weeks to mature before the heat of summer damages the grass.
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