Five tips to cut down on the costs of lawn care
If you’re like most house owners, you’ll spend about 70 hours — plus hundreds of dollars — keeping your lawn and yard looking great this season.
But here’s a secret from the landscaping pros at HomeAdvisor: You’re spending more time and money than you need to. Try these five tips to reduce your labor and expense while making your yard more eco-friendly.
1. Fertilize less. We pump too many chemicals into our yards. In fact, homeowners apply up to 10 times more pesticides per acre to their lawns than farmers do to crops, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Fertilizer is a good place to cut back. A single application is usually enough for a healthy lawn, not the three or four that some manufacturers push. Pro tip: Fall is the best time to fertilize since it promotes root growth over the winter.
2. Water wisely. Lawn irrigation accounts for an estimated 30 per cent of total residential water use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. An established lawn only needs one inch of water per week — rainfall included. A thorough watering once a week is better for the root system than a daily sprinkle. Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to let the grass turn brown during hot, dry spells; most species can go a month or more without water.
3. Mow it yourself. Lawn mowing costs range from about $40-$110 per visit. Even if you need to invest in a new mower, DIY mowing will save you thousands of dollars over the long haul. Pro tip: Use the mulching mode on your mower to deposit clippings back onto the lawn. Besides saving time, the clippings will add nutrients to the soil, reducing your fertilizer needs.
4. Shrink the lawn. This would have been sacrilege a generation ago. But more homeowners are doing it to save time and money. The strategy can also make your yard look better if you focus on an area where grass is hard to grow. You could swap in a groundcover or even a brick patio, which will add beauty as well as functionality. Pro tip: When putting in new plantings, always choose native species. They will be suited to your climate, plus they’ll attract birds, bees and other pollinators.
5. Don’t fight every weed and pest. Nature is wild. Your yard should be, too. Only five to 15 per cent of insects in a yard qualify as pests — so let the ladybug and praying mantis be. (Both help control true pests.) Same with weeds. Clover, for example, takes nitrogen from the air and feeds it to the soil and it has a pleasant scent. Pro tip: Overseeding thin parts of the lawn will help keep the weeds at bay. In garden beds, a layer of mulch will do the same.
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