If you long for a flawless lawn that tickles bare feet and amazes the neighbors, you can easily bring your fantasy to fruition. To get a country-club perfect lawn without stressing or overspending, follow these 10 tips for budget-friendly lawn care:
1. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty. Hiring a landscaping company to look after your yard can cost as much as $1,000 per season. On the other hand, maintaining your lawn yourself won’t cost much more than the price of a mower and supplies. If you aren’t afraid of getting a little dirty, you may find that DIY lawn care isn’t only affordable – it’s fun!
2. Go for a push reel mower. While rotary mowers shred grass and leave lawns vulnerable to insects and disease, reel mowers cut cleanly. Neatly trimmed grass not only heals faster, it looks nicer. Push mowers run on human power versus fuel, meaning you won’t ever need to pay for gasoline to give your lawn a trim.
3. Fertilize in the spring and fall. A healthy, growing lawn needs nourishment. While soil can provide lawns with certain nutrients, earth alone can’t sustain grass all season. To promote growth, heal damage and control weeds, you’ll need to fertilize your lawn in the late spring and early fall, no more than twice a year.
4. Make your own fertilizer. One 20-pound bag of artificial fertilizer can set you back $25. Save yourself the money and trip to the store by making your own fertilizer. A popular recipe includes mixing one bottle of beer with a can of soda, a half-cup of dish soap, a half-cup of mouthwash and a half-cup of ammonia.
5. Make your herbicides. Pesky weeds wrestle with your grass for water, nutrients and fertilizer. But you don’t need the toxic chemicals in store-bought herbicides to slay these stubborn intruders. Instead, try spraying your lawn with mixture of white vinegar, table salt and a touch of liquid dish detergent.
6. Make your own insect spray. Skip the pesticides you buy in stores, which often contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to humans, pets and the environment. You can keep away mites, white flies, aphids and other insects with a mixture of soap and water. Use a spray bottle to shower your lawn with these all-natural insect repellents.
7. Aerate in the spring and fall. Much like fertilization, aeration should be performed yearly in the spring and fall. Aerating your lawn provides air to the roots, improves water penetration and facilitates food absorption. You can cut costs by teaming up with your neighbors to split the cost of an aerating machine rental.
8. Avoid overwatering. One of the secrets to maintaining a lush lawn is to water deeply but infrequently. Daily watering can suffocate and kill the roots, making the grass stressed and more susceptible to damage. Typically, healthy grass needs about 1 inch of water per week. To gauge your water usage, place a bucket under your sprinkler and crank off the hose once the water level hits 1 inch.
9. Avoid over-mowing. Cutting your grass too short makes it vulnerable to weeds, drought and heat. If you allow your grass to grow a little taller, your lawn will hold moisture better and resist weeds. Aim to keep your grass around 2 inches tall.
10. Leave those clippings alone. After dedicating time to mowing your lawn, you may be relieved to learn you don’t have to worry about bagging up those lawn clippings. Lawn clippings can serve as a source of fertilizer and natural mulch, promoting green growth and helping the soil retain moisture.