When you make the decision to become a homeowner in Kansas City there are certain expenses that you anticipate such as heating/cooling, electricity, plumbing, interior/exterior renovations, etc. Aspiring homeowners will work these costs into their budget and plan accordingly. The one expense that often gets overlooked, however, is the cost of lawn maintenance. Today we are going to talk about 8 affordable lawn care tips.
Ideally, we would all like to have a healthy lawn year-round. The idea of it seems simple enough, but when it comes to execution, you’ll find that it can be a very time-consuming and pricey undertaking. In fact, according to “American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn.” Americans spend an estimated $40 billion caring for their lawns every year!
8 Affordable Lawn Care Tips
If money is the main thing standing in your way of having the green lawn of your dreams, we’ve put together a handful of affordable lawn care tips to keep your lawn and wallet healthy.
1) Set Realistic Expectations
Our first tip for affordable lawn care is to take it one step at a time. This may seem like an odd tip to start off with, but we know how easy it is to get ahead of ourselves and set unrealistic expectations. We live in a world of instant gratification – if you need groceries or a new outfit, you can have it delivered to your doorstep in a few days or even a few hours. Unfortunately, lawn care doesn’t work like that.
You must remember that your lawn is a mini-ecosystem. This little biological community of interacting organisms can be very fragile and requires proper nourishment to survive and thrive. This also means that lawn maintenance isn’t a “one and done” type of thing. You must maintain your lawn throughout the year by providing it with the right amount of water, nutrients, and care.
For those who are seeking a more affordable lawn care route, it’s especially important to practice patience. Paying for lawn care services will yield you faster results, but they can add up quickly. As you’ll soon come to realize, affordable lawn care will save you money but will require a lot more time and hands-on work.
2) Learn About Your Lawn & Conduct A Lawn Health Test
Learning about your lawn is one of the first and most important steps in lawn maintenance. You’ll want to find answers to some key questions such as:
- What type of grass is growing on my lawn? What type of soil is it growing in?
- Are there any patchy spots? Why are those spots experiencing growth issues?
- Is my lawn diseased? Overwatered? Underwaterd?
- Are there any invasive weeds or bugs living on my lawn?
These are all important questions to consider because they will help you create a care plan to improve the health of your lawn. Once you figure out what it needs and start to work lawn care into your weekly routine, you’ll start to notice a huge difference in the color and ground cover of your lawn.
One way to help you learn about your lawn’s health is to conduct a lawn health test by measuring its light, ph, and moisture levels. The ideal levels for lawn growth in the Kansas City area are as follows:
- Light: At least six hours of direct sunlight (full sun)
- PH: Between 6.2 – 7
- Moisture: 10% – 40% (depends on the type of soil, see moisture chart below)
Some companies offer a basic lawn health assessment as a stand-alone service or you can go the DIY route and purchase a 3-in-1 soil testing kit. If you do decide to test the soil yourself, we recommend testing various parts of your lawn and to be wary of potential misreadings.
3) Clear Invasive Weeds And Dead Leaves
One easy and cost-effective way to clean up your lawn and improve its health is to weed and rake it. An unkempt lawn can become overgrown with invasive weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy, thistle, or white clover which will steal nutrients from the grass. You can get rid of these pesky weeds by using a homemade herbicide or by using a stand-up weeder.
Another leading cause of lawn patchiness is not raking dead leaves in the fall. Many homeowners assume that leaving dead leaves on their lawn is acceptable since they’re biodegradable. Although true, dead leaves won’t biodegrade fast enough and can block much-needed sunlight.
This lack of light that dead leaves cause can kill your grass and leave dead spots that will need to be re-seeded in the spring. Raking may be more work upfront, especially if you have a large lawn with a lot of trees, but we promise that you’ll thank yourself later.
4) Provide Your Lawn With Nutrients
If your lawn starts to develop yellow spots, this could be a sign that it’s not getting enough nutrients. We recommend fertilizing your lawn about 5-6 times per year. Most local lawn care professionals will offer a seasonal fertilization service that can range in price.
A more affordable route would be to fertilize your lawn yourself. There are tons of great lawn fertilizers on the market that cater to different lawn needs.
You can also make a homemade fertilizer by using beer, ammonia, and non-antibacterial shampoo. The beer provides bacteria and nutrients, the ammonia provides nitrogen, and the shampoo helps the ground absorb the mixture. Although this is the most affordable option, it’s the least effective.
Important Note: If you decide to make a homemade fertilizer, make sure to test it on a small patch of grass first.
If your lawn is very yellow and crunchy, we would recommend using Gunter Pest & Lawn’s professional fertilization service. We offer fertilizing treatments in March, May, June, and August. We also don’t recommend a homemade fertilizer if you’re currently using Gunter Pest and Lawn as your lawn care company.
5) Mow Your Lawn Regularly
For some plants, cutting pieces of their leaves or stems can cause them to wither and die. With grass, however, regular trimming is crucial to its health. The reason for this is that each tip of grass contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. By cutting these tips, you’re actually promoting grass growth and even coverage.
There is, however, a right and wrong way to mow your lawn with many types of lawn mowers on the market. If you mow too often, your lawn will appear bare and if you don’t mow often enough, your lawn will become overgrown and uneven. The recommended frequency for mowing is once per week (this may vary slightly depending on the species of grass). Also, some homeowners make the mistake of mowing in a low-blade setting.
If you cut your grass too short, you’ll strip it of nutrients and encourage weed growth. You’ll want to make sure to do your research and see what the recommended height is for the species of grass found in your lawn. The safest bet is using the “mulch” setting on your mower which will create tons of grass clippings that you can then use as a natural fertilizer.
We also recommend getting your lawnmower serviced and sharpened every so often to extend its lifespan which will save you money in the long run.
6) Don’t Overwater
One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to their lawns is overwatering. Many people are under the false impression that more water equals a greener lawn. This is not the case.
Yes, it’s true that you need to water your lawn regularly but if you overwater, you will promote weed growth, encourage disease and rack up a pretty expensive water bill. A healthy amount of water for most grass species is about one inch per week.
We also recommend watering your lawn in the morning, between 5 am and 10 am. If you water in the middle of the day, some of the water will evaporate which can cause your grass to be under-watered. If you water too late in the evening, there won’t be enough drying time which will leave your grass wet overnight making it more susceptible to disease.
7) Use Nematodes To Fight Invasive Bugs
Nematodes are a great way to help prevent harmful lawn insect infestations. The most common pests found in your lawn are fleas, grubs, caterpillars, and a variety of other soil-dwelling insects. Nematodes are microscopic insects that feed on over 230 different kinds of lawn pests. They’re completely safe and do not negatively affect the health of your lawn, family, or pets.
You can find and purchase nematodes at your local garden store, some hardware stores, or online. They’re a safe, natural, and cost-effective way to keep your lawn healthy and flourishing.
8) Beautify Your Lawn With Lawn Decorations
This tip isn’t so much an affordable lawn care tip, but more of an affordable lawn improvement tip. The first step is to get your lawn looking lush and healthy and then outdoor decorations are simply the cherry on the cake. There are tons of tasteful yard decor options in garden stores and online, although we suggest taking a trip to your local Goodwill Outlet or other resale shops to find used decor. You can find some absolute gems for a cheap price!
If you’re a crafty person, you can create some beautiful DIY lawn decorations. There are tons of ideas on Pinterest or in garden magazines. Not only is it a fun experience to create your own decorations, but it can also save you money.
As you can see there are tons of ways to improve your lawn’s health without breaking the bank. We hope you’re able to put some of our affordable lawn care tips to use in order to create your very own thriving outdoor oasis that gives you that curb appeal you’ve always wanted while saving you time and money.
Hiring a lawn care company such as Gunter Pest & Lawn will make sure you don’t have to waste more of your time and energy, but we promise the payoff will be more than worth it!