When temperatures rise, it’s time to move the DIY work outside and your landscape should be the first project you tackle. While some dread mowing and watering their lawns, others believe it brings them piece of mind. The following seven landscaping tips are so easy and quick, even those who dread it will get off the couch and enhance their curb appeal this summer.
Water On A Regular Basis
It should come as no surprise that the best landscaping tip is to always water your lawn on a regular basis. Much like going to the gym, your lawn needs a consistent schedule of watering. Be sure to give it a healthy amount, but do not go overboard.
Shallow watering only gets the leaves wet and does not soak through to the roots. Inadequate watering such as this will produce sickly plants that can’t withstand the ravages of weather.
On the other side of the spectrum, be sure to not over-water your lawn, which is one of the most common landscaping mistakes. Most lawns only need 1" of water each week, and for most climates, keeping it damp during the middle of the day in the summer is usually all it needs.
Water During the Day
Speaking of timing, you should always water your lawn during the day. Despite popular opinion, water does not go farther into your lawn when you water it at night. Watering it during the day, preferably early to mid morning, lets the grass grow during its necessary four hours of natural sunlight. This combination helps the photosynthesis process, which creates a luminous green lawn.
To simplify the process, you could always install a sprinkler system. See our cost guide to install a sprinkler system.
Maintain Your Lawnmower
If you’re a DIY landscaper, you need to make sure your lawnmower is in pristine condition. The blades should be as sharp as possible. Just like your kitchen knives, you can’t cut a lawn with faulty blades. Dull lawnmower blades tear the top off blades of grass, leaving jagged edges that invite plant viruses, molds and insect infestations. The cleaner cut produced by a sharp blade allows the plant to heal quickly enough to prevent most adverse effects.
Furthermore, a faulty lawnmower could leak gasoline, which can easily kill the lawn and produce toxic messes where your children play. Adding insult to injury, it can also get expensive to fix.
Don’t Cut Your Lawn Too Short
This is another big misconception. Shorter is not always better. As part of photosynthesis, your lawn needs to produce sugar and allow sensitive roots to be exposed to sunlight. This is the only way your lawn will grow and keep its shiny, green exterior. Cutting your lawn too short ruins and shocks your lawn system. As a result, the clippings will be too thick to cut and brown patches will start to show. Once this happens, homeowners start to water their lawns more than needed.
In warm climates, maintain a grass height of two to three inches so the grass can produce shade to keep the roots as cool as possible. Shaded ground will also minimize evaporation. Grasses in cooler climates can be cut shorter, but all lawns look better when no bare spots are visible.
Additionally, homeowners should vary the direction of mowing each time to promote full, vigorous growth. Mow from east to west one time and from north to south the next. Doing so will minimize the appearance of any bumps or valleys that might naturally occur in the yard.
Fertilize & Seed Your Lawn
Much like the vegetables and fruits we eat to grow big and strong, lawns need fertilizers and seeds to grow thick and tough. Fertilizer is composed of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, all of which your lawn needs.
Nitrogen keeps your grass dense, healthy and gives it a vibrant green color. Phosphorous supports strong grass roots, the base of your lawn. Potassium also helps strengthen roots, as well as the grass blades, keeping your lawn strong during the cold seasons.
You can apply fertilizer or seeds by hand or a spreader (remember to buy “shade” and “sun” seed). We recommend a spreader because it will distribute both evenly, but hands work just fine. If you do use your hand, apply each by itself slowly.
Plant Grass & Flowers Strategically
As noted at www.lawncare.org, most grasses require at least four hours of sunlight every day. If you have an area that doesn’t receive that much sun, don’t worry. You can buy a seed mix, like fescue blends, that works well in the shade.
With trees, pay attention to the instructions. When it comes to planting trees, you need to consider their potential height and how much space they are going to need. Also, many DIY landscapers make their planting beds too narrow. Extend your beds out at least one to two thirds of the house's height, if not more.
Finally, always consider your climate. If you don’t get a lot of rain, don’t buy tropical plants. Cacti and other succulents are perfect choices for dry areas.
Never Make Impulse Purchases
When spring comes around, many homeowners decide this is the year to go all out. Much like any home remodeling project, it’s important to do your research. Have a budget in mind and don’t go over it.
Make sure all your purchases match your family’s style. Think about how they’re going to use the yard. A rock garden looks great, but it’s not too comfortable for the kids. Only buy plants and landscaping features that make sense for your family.
These seven steps are as easy and quick as they come. If you want your lawn to look as green as the ones in the images above, then you should follow each recommendation.
For more landscaping tips, see Why It's Important to Practice Natural Lawn Care.