How to Simplify Yard Work
Photo by heipei
Do you hate yard work? You are not alone. While some of us can't wait to get outside with our pruning shears, there are others who dread the idea of pulling the weed whacker out of the garage.
To make yard work less painful, try these tips.
1. Leave your grass alone.
How many commercials have you seen about de-thatching, de-weeding, and fertilizing your yard? A million? Do you know why they have so many commercials? Because you don't actually need any of their products. They are trying to convince you that you do. But be smart! Your yard will grow just fine without you.
Unless you are a die-hard grass lover, just leave it alone. Commercial fertilizers and herbicides are expensive, not to mention they are some of the biggest polluters of ground and surface water. Over-fertilizing actually can kill off the beneficial natural organisms in your soil, resulting in an unhealthy lawn. Which means--guess what?--you have to go buy more fertilizer.
Instead, fertlize this way: After you mow, allow grass loose clipping to lay on the grass. They are a wonderful natural fertilizer, full of nitrogen. Of course, large, heavy clumps could kill off patches of your grass. Rake these piles onto a tarp and dump them on a mulch pile. Or mow over those piles several times until they are all but gone. If you have a mulching function on your mower, use that.
If your yard is weedy and in dire need of attention, try this. Have your yard aerated. Aeration brings air into compacted soil, resulting in a healthier, less-weedy lawn. You can hire a lawn service to do it, or rent an aeration machine for about $75.00. Once the yard is aerated, seed it with grass seed that is low maintenance and native to your area.
2. Mow only what you must...and only when necessary.
If you have a large yard of grass, you know how long it can take to mow. Here's a thought. Convert some of your backyard to meadow. Choose a line and simply stop mowing beyond that line. Tall meadow grasses and native plants could take over in a matter of months. Scatter wildflower seeds or plant large bushes or sagebrush, if you'd rather have a say in what grows in your new meadow.
Put up a few birdhouses on poles to provide a habitat for field-loving birds.
Don't overmow. Grass that is longer is more able to retain moisture and grows deeper roots, resulting in a healthier plant. Though you might like the look of a tightly mowed lawn, you are doing your grass no favors with this harsh treatment. One exception: a short trim before winter will help the lawn stay healthy through the cooler months, allowing air ciculation that cuts down on fungus and mold growth.
3. Retire your weed-whacker.
With a few simple fixes, you can hang up that noisy weed-whacker for good.
- Dig out the grass around mailboxes, trees, fenceposts, and bushes. Instead, plant perennials and lay thick wood mulch around them.
- Dig out the grass around swingsets. Put up a low-lying border and fill in the area with rubber mulch.
- For the few areas that may require weed-whacking, instead, use a pair of sharp hedge clippers. A few snips and you are done. No gas, no oil, no noise....no weed-whacker!
4. He who rakes last...rakes least.
Raking is probably everyone's least favorite chore. However, if you allow nature to do most of the work for you, you'll find it much more enjoyable.
Let the leaves fall. Unless they are a major problem, just let the wind blow them until most of the leaves are off the trees. Most will end up in large, compact piles against your house or fence. Rake these large piles onto a tarp, drag the tarp across the yard, and dump them into your mulch pile.
If leaves are getting into your gutters and downspouts, try going to your local hardware store and buying inexpensive mesh gutter guards. They come in four-six foot lengths and pop right under your shingles. One afternoon's work will save you a lot of work in the future.
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