You want your lawn to look great all year long, but maintaining it doesn’t come cheap. From grass seed to fertilizer and lawn mowers, the cost of lawn care can add up. If you’re looking for ways to cut down on your lawn care costs without sacrificing the quality of your yard, here are five tips that can help.
Five Ways to Save Money on Lawn Care
1. Grow Grass Seed Instead of Sod
While sod is more expensive than grass seed, sod is easier to establish and generally looks good within a few weeks of installation. Grass seed is much cheaper but takes longer to establish. The cost benefit of grass seed becomes greater as lawn size increases.
Grass seed lawns are often higher quality than sod lawns because they contain various grass types. In contrast, sod lawns are just one species with no variety within that species, making the grass more susceptible to stress, drought, and disease.
Plus, grass seed offers more control over the look of the lawn when compared to sod because you can use different seed types in specific areas — like full-sun grass seed, shade seed for low-light areas, water tolerant types for slow drainage areas, and drought-tolerant seed for places you can’t access to irrigate.
2. Test Your Soil
When you get specific about what your lawn needs to thrive, it ensures that any fertilizer or lime applications are made correctly and efficiently. Save yourself time and money in the long run by eliminating unnecessary applications of these products. Performing a soil test in the spring and fall provides the data needed to make informed decisions on fertilizer choices and application rates.
In an attempt to hastily improve your lawn, it can be tempting to over-apply fertilizer. But, this can be a waste of money and is bad for the environment as excess fertilizer can run off into surrounding ecosystems. Instead of heavily applying expensive lawn fertilizer, save money and avoid damage by only applying the amount of fertilizer needed.
3. Mow Your Lawn Regularly
Mowing your lawn twice a week might seem excessive, but keeping up this schedule will save money if you really want a golf course lawn. A good goal is to space mows a few days apart (say Saturday, then Wednesday or Thursday). Your lawn will grow thicker and require fewer treatments throughout the season in return. And while we recommend reel mowers, a rotary mower will work just as well — keeping up the regular mowing is most important. The more you mow, the better it grows.
4. Invest in Quality Lawn Care Tools
While investing in lawn care tools to save money may seem counter-intuitive, having quality tools can help you reduce lawn care costs in the long run.
You don’t need to buy loads of different equipment; the three most essential tools for the job are:
- A mower — reel mowers are great for grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, Rye, and Kentucky Bluegrass, but rotary mowers are fine too. Just make sure the blades are sharp for a better-quality cut. A sharp mower blade or reel minimizes injury to the lawn and produces better-looking turf.
- A broadcast spreader — a decent broadcast spreader doesn’t have to break the bank, and they are a crucial piece of kit to spread grass seed, fertilizer, and other lawn supplements. The Earthway 2050p is a great spreader that will serve you for a long time.
- An edger — whether you choose a manual or power edger is up to you, but we recommend using an edger to give your lawn a manicured appearance. This improves curb appeal and prevents grass from growing over pathways and into landscaping beds.
Quality tools allow you to get the job done faster and more effectively, meaning less time spent on lawn care.
5. Check How Much Water Your Lawn Needs
Knowing how much water your lawn needs per week can be challenging, and it is usually not as much as you’d think. As a general rule, 1 inch of water per week is required for warm-season grasses and around 1.5 inches for cool-season grasses.
Of course, there are variables to consider, such as where you live and how much rain you get. The best way to work this out is to Google the average rainfall in your town or visit weatherspark.com to find the average rainfall over each month of the year in your area.
For example, on the chart for Atlanta, Georgia, you would look at the precipitation for the month you are in. Let’s say it’s February, so we’re getting, on average, 118mm (4.65 inches) of rain throughout the month. 4.65 inches per month works out to just over 1 inch per week, so you probably won’t need to water your lawn this month as Mother Nature has done all the work for you. While this guide isn’t foolproof, as it’s working on averages and doesn’t know the current weather, it’s still an excellent tool.
In the summer months, you will need to irrigate your lawn much more as there likely is less rainfall and higher temperatures. If you want to find out how much rain has fallen on your lawn, lay a small dish or empty tuna can on the grass and measure the collected water with a ruler.
What is the best time of day to water your lawn, I hear you ask? Early morning around 4 am is ideal as the temperature is cooler, allowing the water to sink in before the sun rises. Now, we know you aren’t thrilled about getting up that early in the morning to water your lawn, so we suggest using a timer to turn the sprinklers on automatically. Or, if easier, leave the watering to later in the day, once the sun begins to set and the temperature drops. Avoid watering in the middle of the day because much of the water will be lost due to evaporation.
If you want to save even more money on your lawn care and your water bills, try soil moisture management products. This fantastic technology reduces watering requirements by up to 50% and is available in granular and liquid forms to help lower your monthly watering bill.