A beautiful lawn makes relaxing or entertaining at home so much more enjoyable, but also dramatically increases the value of your house. However, making sure your patch of earth is living its best life can be a costly process. In America, we spend a combined total of between 30 and 40 Billion USD (as well as around 73 hours a week) making sure our lawns look presentable. This is in no way specific to the US either, with lawn care and landscaping big businesses around the world. There's just got to be a way to save money on lawn care!
Personally, I do not believe that wanting a beautiful lawn means you have to break the bank, and to prove it, here are some of my favorite tips to save money on lawn care next summer!
A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and all of these tips are designed to keep your lawn for years.
In older houses, the grass making up your lawn was likely planted some time ago too and has likely not ever been replaced. Older species of grass are more prone to disease, and are less drought-resistant than newer species of grass. However, there is no need to remove the old grass to enjoy the benefits of the newer, more resilient species.
All that is required is to purchase new grass seeds and overseed your lawn. "By overseeding the lawn, you're introducing a heartier species of grass into what's already there," says Chris Lecce, the national technical director for Weed Man USA.
Even newer lawns can enjoy the benefits of reseeding, as the injection of new seeds will compensate for the brown, less-vibrant patches that can develop on lawns over time. Whether your lawn is old or new, if you are considering reseeding, aim to reseed before winter as this will ensure that you get the fullest, most green results as it starts to warm up again.
Giving the grass three seasons to grow in gentle conditions before having to contend with the heat of summer gives your lawn the best chance of a long and happy life, and ensures that none of your money on the new seeds goes to waste. However, if you are determined to reseed your lawn in the spring, wait before temperatures reach 45 degrees. Ground that is too cold won’t accept the seed, meaning much of it will just provide a lunch for your local animals.
Overseeding can seem scary at first. Here is a helpful video to show you how:
There is no better tip for budget lawn care than finding a good local nursery. There you will find lawn and plant experts with specific knowledge of your weather and soil conditions. This means they will be able to advise you properly from the get-go, whether you’re looking to fix a problem spot in your lawn or starting a brand new garden. Good advice will save you a lot of wasted money in the future, allowing you to do everything right from the start.
Aside from specialist local advice, buying from your local nursery also means that the plants, flowers and plant foods you buy will be local, too. This means that they’ll be natives of the soil and climates you’re from and should complement your garden, improving the health of the other facets of your garden. Always be sure to ask for help before buying a new plant/flower, but “buy local” is an excellent rule of thumb.
Installing a sprinkler system can be one of the most expensive parts of caring for your lawn and garden. Yet, not every lawn needs something so sophisticated. A simple (high-quality) sprinkler attachment for a hose will set you back $20 USD at your local garden or hardware stores and will do a perfect job of ensuring that your garden is well watered.
The only effort you’ll need to make is moving the sprinkler attachment every so often. A simple method for figuring out when it's best to move the sprinkler is to put a small empty tin can under the sprinkler and setting a timer.
Check and see when the tin can is full and, when it is, move the sprinkler and note the time on the timer. You now have a fairly accurate idea of how long the sprinkler will take to give your lawn a deep soak. This should ensure your lawn has enough water for at least a week and, with regular rainfall, won’t need to be used all that often.
Hands-on lawn carers are notorious for over-watering their lawns. In reality, most lawns only need about an inch of water every week to remain healthy. Avoid the temptation of overwatering and consider only watering when your lawn is showing signs of fatigue – like the grass pulling up easily when tugged. The estimated one-inch-per-week includes rainwater, and a simple rain-gauge is an excellent and inexpensive tip to work out how much watering your lawn needs.
As for when to water, the best time is between 05:00 and 10:00. The water will have the maximum time to soak down to the roots, with minimal wasted water due to evaporation. Some like to water their lawns at night, but this can mean that your lawn doesn’t have the moisture it needs the next day and can lead to disease and/or lawn fungus.
A final recycling tip is to do water-intensive tasks, like washing tools, on the lawn, giving your lawn an extra injection of water when needed.
Mulching lawn mowers are a great way of saving money maintaining your lawn. For those who haven’t used them before, mulching lawn mowers are specially designed lawn mowers that shred the grass (as well as any leaves on your lawn) into small pieces whilst you’re mowing. These mulched leaves/grass pieces are then scattered over the top of your lawn. The loose pieces sink into the lawn within 24 hours, breaking down to serve as an excellent source of nutrition for your grass.
Not only will you save money (and time) not having to buy fertilizer, you also won’t have to waste money buying black bags to store excess grass clippings, making it the cleanest and most cost-effective method of keeping your lawn looking its freshest. If you don’t own a mulching lawn mower, check to see if your existing mower doesn’t have the option of blocking off the exit vent, giving you a mulching effect without needing to replace your existing machine. Alternatively, look for a bargains online.
Here’s a cool video showing you how to use a regular push mower as a mulcher:
Knowing the right length to mow to can be tricky. Leaving your lawn to grow a bit longer than you’re used to means that you’ll save money on water, given that taller grass requires less watering. Taller grass has a greater leaf surface area and a more developed root system, meaning the water and fertilizer that the grass receives is better used.
The longer grass is also better able to take advantage of the nutrient provided by the sun, meaning it should look greener and more pleasing. When you do mow, try to use the highest blade setting so the grass stays its longest. For those looking for more accuracy, aim for 2-3 inches of grass to ensure the optimum conditions for the grass to thrive. When mowing, never remove more than a third of the length of the grass.
Even if you don’t have a mulcher, your grass clippings and other organic waste (like fruit or vegetable scraps) can be repurposed and used as fertilizer, soil augmentation or mulching to aid the growth of your trees. Even a small compost bin, topped up on an ad hoc basis, can yield around 35 to 40 cubic feet of compost every year.
With fertilizer running you 5 USD a bag (if not more), this little change can result in massive savings over the course of a year. It is unfortunately common practice to over-fertilize your lawn, with the excess fertilizer amounting to wasted money, as well as unnecessarily polluting the air and lawn. However, natural compost is far more forgiving and can be applied at any time of the year, meaning that going the natural route is better for your lawn as well as your wallet.
Aim to fertilize every five to six weeks, which should coincide with when your bucket fills up, anyway. When filling your compost heap, make sure to stick to natural waste like leaves, scraps from your fruit and veg, shredded paper, coffee grinds and eggshells, as well as your grass clippings. Adding a little soil is a nice tip to make the compost go a bit further.
The overall health of your lawn, in a lot of cases, comes down to its acidity. Whether the acidity is too high or too low, when your pH is off, your lawn won’t grow like it should. Incorrect pH is also, in many instances, the cause of a weed problem. Luckily, keeping your grass at the correct pH is not difficult and is an easy and cost-effective way of ensuring your lawn is living its best life.
There’s no need to purchase anything extravagant to test your lawn’s pH. Simply pick up a testing kit from your nearby garden supply or hardware store. Many local extension offices will also test the pH of your soil, free of charge. As a rule of thumb, aim for a pH of around 6.5. If your test shows something other than 6.5, adding a dusting of lime to the top of your soil will raise its pH. A light dusting of elemental sulfur, on the other hand, is an effective means of lowering your lawn’s pH.
Planting shady trees around the border of your property is a great tip for saving money. You want to specifically plant trees on the east- and west-facing sides of your property, as having shade on the south side will limit the sunshine your lawn and garden will receive, which will affect plant health.
Meanwhile, the added shade provided by your trees will keep your house cooler, which will reduce the amount you’ll spend on electricity for fans and air-conditioners. When planting trees, make sure they’re perennials. These are trees that, once planted, will hopefully live happily in your garden as long (or longer) than you do. They usually require less upkeeping than annuals and won’t need to be replaced, unless they get sick.
It may be a no-brainer, but plants and trees are more expensive the bigger they are. Nurseries will need to care for bigger plants/trees longer than smaller ones, which means they will require more maintenance, a cost which will be passed on to you when you buy them. Smaller plants and trees, however, don’t come with the same costs for the nurseries and can usually be picked up a lot cheaper.
They will also reduce the cost of transportation on your side. Whilst opting for smaller plants means you’ll have to wait a little longer before your dream garden is realized, the 33 to 66 percent saving you’ll be looking at makes this choice worth it. The smaller plants and trees will, however, require more care and attention, so be sure to get good advice from your local garden store when installing them.
Many nurseries are prone to clearing out their stock before the risk of the winter months, meaning that there are many bargains to be had for the cash-conscious in the fall. Some of these sales are pretty aggressive and you can grab discounts of between 30 and 50 percent of what you’d ordinarily expect to pay for, say trees and shrubs, to give an example.
You also don’t need to be scared that your bargain purchases are in danger due to being planted in colder conditions. The ground, whilst a little firmer, won’t have frozen yet, regardless of where in the country you are. The milder conditions, far from hurting the plants, are actually conducive to establishing the plants in their new homes and giving them a jump start should have them looking happy and healthy by the time spring rolls around again.
Whilst the ability to tend to our own garden lovingly and selectively is a great one, the truth is that the busyness of life does not always allow for it. If this is true for you and you have to make use of a lawn service, don’t feel like you have to resign yourself to spending an arm and a leg. The truth is, lawn care is such a big business in Western countries around the world that there is no shortage of options when it comes to lawn services.
Therefore, you have no excuse not to shop around as much as possible before settling on a contractor that is right for you. Once you’ve done so, feel free to negotiate the rates offered, safe in the knowledge that competition is fierce and your business is important to him/her. Aside from the above, always make sure your contractor clearly specifies what exactly is included in his lawn package.
Some contractors may seem like excellent value for money, but only provide you with the bare minimum of services. Others, whilst a little more expensive, may offer you a more holistic package, saving you money in the long run. Whatever you opt for, just make sure that you are well-informed before letting someone else look after your beautiful lawn.
Lastly, keep in mind that finding a lawn care provider isn’t just about finding the most knowledgeable person; although that is certainly an important factor, it’s also about finding someone you trust and can rely on to be honest with you.
Whilst there is nothing better than a beautiful lawn, maintenance, especially on bigger properties, can be nightmare. In addition, some areas of your lawn just won’t be conducive to growing grass or plants. The time and effort, not to mention money, needed to maintain these trickier areas is usually not worth it. In these situations, I’d suggest opting for an alternative.
This does not necessarily mean fake lawn which, whilst an option to save on water and mowing, can act as a heat trap which can cause problems for the rest of your garden, long term. Instead, an outdoor deck, covered by a pergola, can be a wonderful way of breaking the consistency of your garden and giving you a new place to entertain. The deck is still porous, importantly, ensuring that rainwater and the like is still able to seep into your soil.
Updating your tired garden/patio furnishings can be a great way of adding character and theatre to your garden. However, don’t feel like this has to mean buying a whole new set of expensive odds and ends. Instead, turning the restoration and updating of your garden furniture into a simple DIY project is a great way of staying active on the weekends as well as saving money.
Large ceramic pots, for example, can be turned into expensive glazed masterpieces with some hobby paint from Rust-Oleum or Krylon or just a splash of color using some outdoor spray-paint. Weather-beating patio furniture, on the other hand, can be reborn with a little sanding and a new coat of paint. Here are some great suggestions from At Home with Ashley for a budget-friendly deck remodel to give you some inspiration.
There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about the image of a father working in the garden on a Saturday/Sunday with his children. However, this cliché need not be tired, and working outside with your kids is a great way of bonding together, as well as saving money.
Simple tasks like mowing the lawn, washing the patio furniture, blowing away the leaves, removing the weeds, filling/emptying the compost bin and cleaning the pool can all be delegated to your children as part of their weekly chores, in exchange for pocket money.
This is a valuable means of teaching them the value of money and hard work, as well as saving you money and time on the maintenance of your garden. More specialized garden work, like the repainting of your outdoor furniture, pruning your trees or mowing the lawn edges can be done as projects together and is a great excuse to spend some budget-friendly family time together in the sun.
There is nothing better than having a beautiful lawn, but the cost can make it seem like an impossible dream for a lot of people. Yet there are tons of resources available to us today and, if we’re smart about what we do, can ensure that our lawns are the envy of all of our neighbors at only a fraction of the cost.
A little bit of knowledge goes a long way and all of these tips are designed to keep your lawn (and garden) in peak health for many years to come.There is nothing better than having a beautiful lawn, but the cost can make it seem like an impossible dream for a lot of people.
Comment below with your favorite of the 15 tips or even add some of your own that you’ve found helpful. If you enjoyed the review, don’t forget to share it with your friends!