6 Ways to Care for your Lawn on a Budget

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Kennedi writes for Face & Fitness about frugal fashion, budget beauty and other women’s personal finance topics.

Do you own a home with a yard? I just bought my first home a couple of years ago, and I was shocked – SHOCKED – when I discovered how much time and money I sunk into caring for my yard. Installing a sprinkler system, paying the high water bill, using fertilizer, getting bags of seed, buying a ph-tester (yes, I’m serious!), getting an aerator … those expenses drained hundreds from my pocket, and that’s just for the start of the season! After that came the cost of buying and maintaining a lawnmower.  And since my house doesn’t have a garage, I need a shed to store all this stuff!

Wow. It’s amazing how expensive yard care can be. Before you blow your entire paycheck, check out these tips on budget lawn-care.

1. Water your lawn during off-peak hours. Instead of wasting money on water that will just evaporate, water your garden when the sun isn’t bearing down on it. This is especially necessary during the summer, when water evaporates the fastest. The best time to water is during the early morning hours.

2. Don’t over-water. There’s no reason to water your lawn daily (unless you’re starting new grass seed). A deep soaking once a week should be sufficient for established lawns. And if it’s rained that week, you can skip watering entirely! If you don’t know how to check how much moisture your soil has, I found a cool tip for checking your soil’s moisture levels. Simply press a screwdriver into your soil. The screwdriver should easily penetrate the soil about 4 to 6 inches.  If the screwdriver goes in easy, no need to water.

3. Take advantage of coupons. Couponing really can save you tons of money if you use the right ones. Fertilizer coupons are especially useful because you can get the best nutrients at a discount, which makes your lawn stronger and healthier.

4. Watch where you walk. If you want to keep your lawn looking fluffy and beautiful then you need to be careful where you walk. Too much traffic in a highly-concentrated space can wear down your grass blades. Walk in a zig-zag pattern, or take a different route through your lawn each time you walk through it, in order to prevent your grass from looking worn down in certain areas. This will help you save money on re-seeding your lawn.

If you have children, encourage them to play in different areas of your lawn – perhaps the front yard on one day, the side yard on another, the backyard the next day.

5. Keep a sharp lawnmower blade. If you are mowing your lawn with a dull blade then you are wasting precious time and money on your yard. Not only does a dull blade require more work, it is also not good for your yard. Dull blades increase the susceptibility of your grass to fungal infections because of where the blade cuts the grass. It also creates an unpleasant cosmetic look as the grass looks dull and tinted. And it increases the likelihood that you’ll wear the blade down to the point at which you can’t re-sharpen it, which means you’ll need to take it in for a professional tune-up or buy a new lawnmower.

6. Maintain your equipment. From aerators to sprinkler accessories, you’ll buy a lot of equipment for your yard. You can easily save money on your yard by making sure to keep up with your lawn tools. Bring tools inside (in a garage or shed) when you’re not using them, so that they won’t be exposed to sun and rain. Don’t leave the garden hose lying around (it’ll almost certainly get run over by the lawnmower!) Clean your tools regularly. And give any electrical tools, like trimmers, an annual tune-up.

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Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

16 Comments

    • NYC is expensive in other ways, from what I’ve heard, but I imagine it’s also a lot of fun!

  1. We experienced a huge, long drought here in Houston last year. We actually never watered our lawn throughout, or most of our plants (only the ones we wanted to save; there was no rain from approximately January-September). Eventually they went on a lawn watering system, where even-numbered houses could water on certain days, and odd-numbered houses could water on other days. I just thought there were better uses of such a precious resource at the time!
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted..The Amish Next Door: How they Manage their Children’s Money

    • yes, if there was a drought I’d definitely expect to see dried lawns. In fact, I’d be disappointed to see a nice lawn in drought conditions. There are much more important uses for that water!

  2. This is pretty much what I do with my lawn. One lesson learned for me as far as coupons, I found a deal on aeration and seeding that cost less than doing the work myself. Let’s just say I got what I paid for on that one. This fall, I will do it myself.
    Greg@Thriftgenuity recently posted..Café Press – An Income Experiment

    • I’ve never even tried to hire someone to fertilize … a bag of ffertilizer is so cheap and its pretty easy to apply! Sorry to hear about your bad experience with the company

    • That’s okay … I’m sure the other lawns in your area look similar.

  3. If you choose the right grass, you don’t have to reseed every year anymore!
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide recently posted..You Are Already Rich!

    • What variety do you plant?

    • I also water most in early summer. It rains enough in spring that it’s not necessary.

  4. Yep, I can remember all that when we first moved in.
    #1 & #2 Although we haven’t put a sprinkler system in yet, we will save a bit of money on water since our entire house is run off of a well. So we only pay for electricity to pump it up out of the ground.
    #3 Fertilizer – it requires four 15,000 sq. ft. bags of fertilizer to cover the entire yard just 1 time!
    #4 Walking in a different path around the yard is very easy since I typically don’t follow the same path time after time (benefit of having 1 1/2 acres).
    #5 Sharpening blades – at least twice a season for me, and on 3 blades since we have a 66″ deck zero turn tractor with a 24hp motor (bought rather inexpensively for $2,000).
    #6 Shed to house the equipment and all the outdoor furniture during winter, was about $2,000 (well $3,500 after I also ran electricity to it since it is about 175 feet away from our house).

    So expenses, absolutely! Although we admittedly don’t fertilize about the back 1/2 of the yard because it is doing ok but mostly the deer and other animals enjoy that part of the yard. 🙂

    Nice reminder article for me, thanks Kennedi!
    Chris recently posted..Shares per transaction costs, per dividend

    • Wow, you have a huge yard!!

  5. It can add up fast to make the yard look good. Now if only I could teach the dog not to pace in the same area along the fence.
    Jennifer recently posted..Find Missing Money

    • Haha! Dogs will be dogs!


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