MILWAUKEE – Getting a great looking lawn and yard this year doesn’t have to take a bunch of green from your pockets, according to top lawn and landscape experts. With a few hours over the weekend and less than a hundred bucks, any homeowner can make changes that will positively impact their home.
“Some of the best improvements you can make in your yard can be done with a few dollars and a few hours,” says Yard Doctor Trey Rogers, Ph.D., the Briggs & Stratton Yard Doctor who has helped improve green spaces from everyday yards to Olympic playing fields. “When budgets are tight, get more creative and do it yourself.”
What can you do on the cheap?
• Use the magic of bark mulch: Few things dress up a yard more than mulch properly applied on flowerbeds and around trees. It provides that finished look and is good for the plants because it keeps moisture in the soil. Cost: About $3.00 per bag.
• Mow the right way: Don’t scalp your lawn thinking you will have to mow less often. Instead, simply mow less often by letting your grass grow another inch or so. It’s healthy for the lawn and helps squeeze out weeds. When you do mow, cut only one-third the length of the lawn. Cost: The going price for a gallon of gas, enough for a month of mowing for many homeowners.
• Fertilize naturally. When you mow, leave a light layer of grass clippings on the lawn which will become a natural fertilizer. Even better, a mulching mower finely minces the grass clippings so they decompose more rapidly. Doing this is equivalent to one fertilizer application for the year. Cost: $0.
• Add clay pots filled with flowers: Clay pots look good in front of any home. You can even spray paint them to match your trim or front door. Save on potting soil by creating false bottoms in large pots using Styrofoam or even crumbled newspapers. Annual flowers are also less expensive than perennials and you will find a wide choice of colors and sizes. Cost: $2-7 per pot plus flowers.
• Start a compost pile. This costs nothing but a little time as opposed to purchasing bags of compost at the garden center. It’s easy. Start a pile that includes most leftovers from your meals (excluding proteins). Add coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable peels and yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings. Keep it damp and stir it occasionally and you will have nutrient-rich compost in a few months. Cost: $0.
• Take 30 minutes to maintain your mower. Do preventive maintenance once a year on your own. Change the oil, clean or replace the spark plug, and change the filters. This simple task cuts emissions, makes your mower run better and may save you from repair bills down the road. Tune-up kits are available to make it easy. Cost: $10-24 depending on your mower.
• Let nature water your lawn. Your lawn needs about one inch of water a week to be green and thrive. But, if water is costly where you live, let nature handle irrigation. If too little rain falls, your lawn may go dormant but, unless you are in a drought situation, it will green up again when the rain falls. Cost: $0.