One way to save costs is surely to take care of your lawn yourself. However, a lush lawn requires careful planning.
Take steps to avoid these nine common lawn care mistakes:
● Do not perform a floor test
Your first step should be to take a soil test, says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. “Soil tests provide a snapshot of your lawn’s soil health, reveal any deficiencies, and indicate what type of fertilizer you should use,” says Henriksen.
You can buy a soil test for less than $ 20. However, John Kauffman, a scientist at Memphis-based lawn care company TruGreen, recommends ordering a test through your local cooperative renewal service. “Almost every county has one,” says Kauffman. (You can find the closest one by using GardeningKnowHow.com’s extension services directory.)
Soil tests should be done every three years as soil conditions can change over time depending on changes in weather conditions.
● Use of fast fertilizer
Kauffman generally recommends that homeowners use slow release fertilizers. “They’re not as likely to burn turf that quickly,” he says.
“Slow release [fertilizers] Also, nutrients are measured over time to avoid the rapid growth spurts that can come with readily available sources, and they provide a constant supply of nutrients over time. “
Most lawns need about an inch of water every week, says Henriksen. “However, people often make the mistake of running their sprinkler systems every day,” she says. Overwatering your lawn can also increase your maintenance costs, says Henriksen.
Most lawns only need to be watered about two days a week, says Christina Hoffmann, content manager at HouseLogic, an online resource for homeowners. If you don’t mind spending a little extra cash, you can buy a smart sprinkler system like Blossom ($ 149) that uses sensors to monitor the moisture levels in the soil and distribute the right amount of H2O.
● Irrigation at the wrong time of day
Water evaporates as the heat rises, which is why Hoffmann recommends watering your lawn in the morning. “The most important thing is to soak the soil up to 6 inches deep,” says Hoffmann.
You can dig a small hole with a spade or shovel to see how long it takes for the water to reach that depth.
● Use blunt mower blades
Do you want a professional looking finish? A sharp lawnmower knife cuts the grass evenly – while a dull knife can tear and discolor your lawn, says Hoffmann.
Take your blades to a hardware store to make sure you get a clean cut. “You can sharpen them once a month during the grass cutting season,” says Hoffmann.
● Cut grass too short
The average American spends about 70 hours a year tending their lawns and gardens, according to the latest American time use survey. “If mowing your lawn isn’t your idea of a fun time, you might think you can cut the grass extra short so you don’t have to mow as often, but it starves the grass,” says Hoffmann.
In general, grass should be trimmed to 2 to 3 inches. That is, “grass can grow at different speeds depending on the season,” says Kauffman. “You may need to mow more often in spring than in summer.”
● Ignore basic safety precautions
Many people don’t take important safety precautions when mowing their lawn, says Henriksen. Remove stones, branches, sprinklers, and other obstructions before you start mowing to avoid personal injury.
Also make sure that you wear suitable footwear (no open-toe shoes), protective glasses and earplugs. (According to the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, long or repeated exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Lawnmowers can produce more than 100 decibels.)
● Do not aerate your lawn
Aeration is the process of poking small holes in your lawn to allow water and fertilizer to penetrate through the surface of the soil. In other words, ventilation helps your lawn breathe.
“If you really love your lawn and want it to be healthy, it’s a good idea to aerate it once in spring and once in autumn,” says Hoffmann. Although you can use a simple garden fork or spiked boot to punch holes, Hoffmann recommends renting a lawn aerator from a local garden center.
Pro Tip: Most aerators only cover a small surface area, so you may need to make multiple passes over the most densely packed areas of your lawn.
● Do not use a fresh gas tank
Lawn mower fuel left behind over the winter can degrade and damage small engines. Your best approach is to vent stale gas and start the spring season with a fresh tank.
One caveat: as the correct type of fuel depends on the type of lawnmower you have, be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions.