If you feel like a slave to
your yard trying to keep up with all of its maintenance demands, it's time to
set yourself free. Here are some easy ways to reduce or even eliminate basic
yard chores so you can free up some time to actually enjoy being outside!
Build paths you can mow over
Paths that conform to the
landscape require less upkeep than more formal paths that include steps, walls
and curbs. The key is to set the stones or pavers no higher than an inch above
ground level. Then you can mow right over them and skip the extra trimming. Not only are these easy to maintain, they are also very affordable paths.
Mulch trees and skip trimming
Trimming around trees is
time-consuming and you can easily nick the bark, which can fatally damage a
young tree. Eliminate trimming by applying a ring of mulch around trees and
shrubs. For well-drained sites, apply a 2- to 4-in.-deep layer. For
soils that don't drain well, keep mulch to no more than 2 in. deep. Keep the
mulch at least 3 in. away from the trunk itself to prevent disease, root
suffocation and other problems.
Install mowing borders
Keep grass from growing along
flower beds, walls, fences and other obstacles where your mower can't easily
reach. Mowing borders allow you to run your mower over them to clip the grass
without trimming separately. A 4-in.-deep border prevents grass roots from
creeping underneath. Set the top of the border an inch above the ground to keep
grass from creeping over it.
Set your mower blade at the right height
Many people cut their grass
too short, which weakens it and allows more weeds to grow. It also means you're
mowing more than you have to. Each type of grass has an ideal mowing height.
It's about 2-1/2 in. for most cold-climate grasses and 1-1/2 to 2 in. for most
warm-climate grasses. Ask your local extension service, if you're not sure what
type of grass you have. Watch this video and make sure you are mowing the lawn to the right height.
Fertilize your lawn once—in the fall
Simplify your lawn care by fertilizing
only in the fall. Ask a lawn care expert at your local garden center to
recommend the best fertilizer for your type of grass and soil conditions. Apply
the fertilizer about three weeks before the last mowing of the season. This
provides energy and nutrients for the grass roots as they multiply in the
cooler fall weather and gives them a head start the following spring.
— Elisa Bernick, Associate
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