Personal Finance

How To Get On Kitchen Crashers

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 10 minute read

Taking care of the lawn is one of my least favorite chores. Truth be told, if given the chance, I’d replace my entire lawn with low-upkeep landscaping. My yard just wouldn’t support grass.

Neither the time nor money savings would be worth it. Many Americans consider a lush, weed-free lawn to be emblematic of success in life, but this is not an automatically achieved state of affairs. Water, fuel, and pesticides are only some of the many environmentally damaging elements that go into its manufacturing.

Considering how difficult it would be to replace my grass, I opted for a low-maintenance option. It’s better for the planet if I can reduce the amount of time I spend maintaining my lawn by cutting it, watering it, and treating it. One positive aspect is that I have been able to cut back on some of my spending.

Ways to Reduce Lawn Care Costs and Expenses

My research and practice have shown that cutting costs on lawn care does not require sacrificing quality. Sometimes the answer is as simple as doing less.

Spend a few hours up front planting low-maintenance grass and other plants, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time each week mowing, watering, and fertilizing the lawn. To keep the plants in good shape throughout the season, you need to put in a few more hours of work. Applying even one of these fundamental concepts will help you save money on lawn maintenance.

  1. Selecting the Best Grass for Your Climate

There is more than one type of grass. Bluegrass, ryegrass, fescue, zoysia, and buffalo grass are just a few of the grass types commonly utilized for lawns. Not all soils, temperatures, or moisture levels are ideal for every variety.

As an example, warm-season grasses like temperatures between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees are ideal for cool-season grasses. While prairie grasses thrive in wetter conditions, drought-resistant varieties may survive in arid regions.

It will take less work and money to maintain a healthy lawn if you plant grass species that thrive in your area. The Cooperative Extension Service in your county can tell you what methods have been successful in your geographic region.

  1. Use water sparingly.

If you want your grass and garden to thrive, you need to water them approximately an inch every week, and that includes any rain. In addition to increasing your water cost, watering more frequently than that will not benefit your lawn. As a matter of fact, it can be detrimental, encouraging more weed growth, fungus, and illness.

In other words, how long should you let the sprinklers run to water your lawn an inch deep? To find out, simply scatter some empty tuna cans across your lawn. Run the sprinklers twice a week for as long as it takes to fill a shallow hole half an inch deep.

Put your sprinklers on a timer so they can automatically deliver the ideal amount of water to your lawn. Less water will be lost to evaporation if you water in the morning when temperatures are typically lower. You may save even more water by setting up a 

WaterSense irrigation controller that can detect just how much water your grass needs. The variety and location of sprinklers are also crucial. Instead of spraying a fine mist high into the air, a sprinkler that releases heavier droplets closer to the ground can help you save water. 

Because direct sunlight causes some areas of your yard to dry up more quickly than others, you should focus your spraying efforts there. Also, it’s not necessary to waste water sprinkling the pavement. Put in a rain barrel to collect water for free if you can. Place the barrel such that it will catch water from one of your roof’s downspouts.

  1. Avoid cutting your grass too short.

When the grass is between 2 and 3.5 inches in length, it is at its strongest and healthiest. Since a longer grass blade receives more sunshine, the grass grows thicker and has stronger roots. That makes it more immune to things like drought, disease, and pests.

One way to conserve water is to let your grass grow a little taller. As the grass grows longer, it casts a cooling shadow on the soil, which helps it retain moisture. That’s good news since it means lawns will require less watering. The taller grass provides more shade, which discourages weed growth.

In any case, you shouldn’t allow your grass to get above knee-high in length before cutting it again. Avoid cutting grass shorter than a third of its total length at once for optimal health. The grass, for instance, can be allowed to grow to a height of 3 inches before being trimmed back to a height of 2 inches.

The blade of the lawnmower should also be in good shape. When the blade is dull, it can damage the grass and cause tears. As a result, you may need to make more than one pass over the grass to get an acceptable level of cutting. The time and petrol you lose doing that is astronomical.

Instead of bagging up the grass trimmings after mowing, leave them where they fall. To help meet the nitrogen requirements of your lawn, you may use the chopped grass as a mulch or fertilizer. The phrase “Cut it high and let it lie” serves as a handy mantra to keep in mind.

  1. Fertilize Less

Sometimes little is more when it comes to fertilizer. If you use too much nitrogen, your grass will turn brown and die. The use of too much fertilizer promotes weed growth and causes water pollution. In a nutshell, there is no need to waste money on more fertilizer than is necessary for your grass.

One or two applications of a slow-release fertilizer during the growth season is usually sufficient. But that’s not always the case, especially if your climate and grass aren’t ideal. Learn what your garden needs by doing a soil test. The kits you need to analyze the soil in your yard may be purchased at hardware stores or even online.

Don’t be wasteful with fertilizer applications. You will waste a lot of fertilizer if you fertilize the lawn on a windy day soon before mowing or if it rains heavily shortly after fertilization. To prevent granular fertilizer from flying away, water the lawn moderately shortly after application.

Putting clover in your lawn might also help you save money on fertilizer. By fixing nitrogen from the air, clover is a natural fertilizer. The plant’s extensive root system also facilitates the loosening of compacted soil.

  1. Composting may be used to create natural fertilizer.

Composting is a free way to create your own fertilizer. Throw away food and yard waste in a compost bin to turn it into nutrient-rich compost for your garden and grass. Leaves, grass clippings, and food scraps like peels, bones, and husks from fruits and vegetables, as well as eggshells and coffee grounds, are all good candidates for home composting.

Approximately three feet wide by four feet long and forty inches high, my husband and I tend a modest home compost bin. We use it to dispose of garbage from the kitchen and yard. Each year, we get between twenty and fifty gallons of finished compost from it.

Our budget might easily go beyond $100 if we were to purchase the same quantity of bagged compost from a retailer. Also, when trash is contained in the can, we can delay the frequency of trash pickup. Trash collection by the barrel might be an additional cost-saving measure.

  1. Designate a Dog Toilet Area

Dog pee, much like synthetic fertilizers, contains a lot of nitrogen. Excessive amounts can kill the grass, leaving bald spots that have to be reseeded.

Train your dog to use a certain area, preferably one without grass, to eliminate the need for you to constantly move it to a new position each time. To relieve themselves, dogs can use a sandbox or a mulched area beneath a tree.

  1. Lawn Aeration

Over time, the soil in your yard will get compacted. This prevents grass and other plants’ roots from receiving the necessary oxygen. That prevents the roots from spreading, which reduces the plants’ ability to take in water and nutrients. The result may be bald spots that need to be reseeded or replaced.

By aerating the grass and digging large holes in the soil to let air through, you may prevent this cost. Aerating machines are available for hire at most home improvement stores for roughly $70 per week. Or, you may complete the work by hand with the help of a spike aerator that costs around $25.

You should only need to aerate your lawn once every few years, and then only in the late summer or early fall. On the other hand, it may be necessary every year in places with heavy clay soil or often walked-upon grass.

  1. Consider Different Landscaping Options

Trimming your grass to a more manageable size might help you save money on maintenance costs. Installing a grass lawn is a labor-intensive landscaping choice. To keep it looking lush and healthy requires a lot of water, chemicals, and effort.

You may save money and effort by replacing some of your lawn with low-maintenance plants. The following are some potential paths to pursue:

  • Floor coverings. Swap out your lawn for low-maintenance alternatives. Among the most sought-after are pachysandra, vinca, creeping phlox, creeping thyme, and sedum.
  • Gardens in the Meadow. Planting a combination of perennial flowers and higher grasses is a low-maintenance way to attract pollinators. A meadow garden should be filled with native flora. They require minimal maintenance since they have adapted to your climate.
  • Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is the practice of designing a garden or other outdoor space so that it needs very little, if any, water, making it ideal for areas prone to drought. Swap out your grass lawn for one made of rocks, dirt, mulch, and water-efficient native plants.
  • Vegetable Gardening. Planting a vegetable garden may help you save money on food while taking the place of a lawn, which needs a lot of maintenance but returns nothing. Herbs, edible flowers, berries, and fruit or nut trees are all appropriate additions to an edible landscape.
  • Trees that provide shade. As the summer heat beats down on your home, the leaves on the trees outside provide welcome shade and reduce your need to use the air conditioner as much. And since deciduous trees drop their leaves throughout the colder months, they won’t be able to prevent the light from warming you up.
  1. Plant Perennials

Instead of grass, consider planting flowers, but steer clear of annuals that will need to be replanted every year. Pick perennials instead of annuals since they will keep blooming for several years. Flowers such as daylilies, foxgloves, peonies, lavender, chrysanthemums, and black-eyed Susans come to mind.

Unlike annuals, perennials often don’t bloom continuously throughout the season. Most only flower for a short period of time, usually from weeks to months. However, if you plant a variety of perennials, you’ll have a constant stream of new flowers to enjoy all summer long.

One of the benefits of growing perennials is that they are easy to split. Multiple plants may be obtained from a single instance of this plant by digging it up, separating it into clumps, then replanting the pieces. You may also increase the variety in your flower garden by exchanging divisions with friends and neighbors.

  1. Purchase Fall Plant Sales

It is more cost-effective to purchase landscaping plants in the fall. The months of September and October are traditionally when nurseries conduct sales to get rid of their stock before the winter season. Plants like trees and bushes may be found at steep discounts of 30% to 50%.

Many new plants, particularly deciduous trees, should be planted in the fall. They prefer the milder conditions of fall and winter to set down their roots. Additionally, they will be safe from the winter as they will be dormant at that time. You have till the ground freezes to plant trees.

  1. Instead of Hiring a Professional, Do It Yourself

Lawn mowing services may be hired for roughly $50 each visit. Costs are closer to $125 per visit for comprehensive lawn care that includes seeding, watering, weeding, and fertilizing. Doing it yourself might save you $4,875 over the course of a nine-month season.

There are fees associated with maintaining your lawn on your own. Essential tools and materials consist of:

  • Lawn Mower. You may pay anything from $100 for a simple reel mower to $2,000 for a self-cutting robot lawn mower.
  • Fuel. According to Consumer Reports, if your lawnmower runs on gasoline, you should expect to consume around 7.5 gallons a year. Depending on petrol costs, this might cost you anywhere between $14 and $38 annually. On average, battery-powered lawnmowers consume $5 worth of electricity each year.
  • String Trimmer. In between mowings, string trimmers, also known as weed whackers and weed eaters, are used to chop down tall weeds. You can purchase a decent one for around $100.
  • Fertilizer. DIY fertilizer applications cost between $3 and $8 per 1,000 square feet of grass. $33 to $82 is the difference for a quarter-acre lawn. Add around $50 one-time expense for a fertilizer spreader to disperse it.

Bottom Line

There are several advantages to having a well-kept lawn. It’s aesthetically pleasing and pleasant to walk on. Children can play, and adults can have parties, in complete safety. And it has the potential to dramatically improve your home’s street attractiveness.

Many Americans spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year on their lawns, in addition to putting in many hours of labor, in order to reap these advantages. Some people conclude that the expense isn’t worthwhile and accept having a lawn that is full of weeds and barren places.

These aren’t, however, your only viable choices. You may have a beautiful lawn without breaking the bank or harming the environment if you are careful about how you mow, how much water you use, and what kinds of fertilizer and other landscaping elements you use in your yard.

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