When you first bought your house, your landscaping was like your baby. Before then, you probably didn’t have much garden space to care for, so the luxury of land was exciting and new. Diligently, you turned on your sprinklers, mowed the blades just right and set to fertilizing and aerating like clockwork.
Then you got busy doing other things: Maybe you got a dog or had a baby; maybe work picked up or you finally found a stride in your social group. Whatever the case, lawncare fell to the wayside – and it shows.
Regardless of where you are in life, your lawn needs attention. Here’s the truth about how much time your lawn needs from you – and how you can give it the attention it deserves even when you don’t have the time.
If you have a sprinkler system, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how you water your lawn – but you should. Your lawn needs at least 1 and a half inches of water per week, and if your sprinklers aren’t on for long enough, are turning on at the wrong time of day or otherwise aren’t delivering that volume of water to your lawn’s roots, your lawn could be suffering. Sprinkler systems aren’t a foolproof method for watering, and you will need to spend some time every month fiddling with sprinkler heads.
Many homeowners mow their lawns when “it looks like it’s time.” Usually, that means their grass is quite overgrown – but this is the worst time to wheel out the lawn mower. Like other plants, grass doesn’t like it when you chop off more than about a third of their mass; doing so will shock the plant, potentially killing entire sections.
Worse, mowing with dull blades will leave the cuts ragged, increasing the opportunity for disease to infiltrate and sicken the lawn. So, between your weekly — or biweekly, depending on the season and your region – mowings and the time you spend sharpening blades, this chore could take entire days out of your week.
Believe it or not, your lawn needs to breathe. However, over time, dirt, thatch, plant debris and other junk accumulate on your lawn, suffocating it. Thus, every few months, you need to poke holes into your lawn, so air can reach its roots. Aerating doesn’t take much time – just as long as it takes you to walk around your yard with the proper tools – but because you need to do it so infrequently, you might allow the soil to become so compacted that aeration is more difficult. Harder dirt equals more time walking around your lawn poking holes equals less time for fun.
Fertilizing, like aerating, doesn’t need to happen often, but it does need to happen, and like watering and mowing, fertilizing needs to happen the right way, or you could inadvertently burn your lawn with nutrients.
Most experts say you should be fertilizing primarily in the fall, just before your lawn goes dormant for the cold season, but you should also fertilize a bit in the spring to wake your grass up after winter. That is at least two full days each year devoted to feeding your lawn – and if you forget, it might never properly wake up.
There are two solutions to not having enough time for your lawn – but only one of them is guaranteed to keep your lawn alive. Unfortunately, most busy homeowners outsource their lawn maintenance to less-than-trustworthy neighborhood kids or low-budget landscaping outfits. Though the teen boy down the street might charge a fraction of the bill that a professional lawn service will, he also doesn’t have any of their knowledge or skill. Thus, your lawn will never look perfect; it will always hover around mediocre.
The other option is to entrust your lawncare to a proven lawn service. They know everything there is to know about grass – from different varieties’ watering and sunlight needs to symptoms of dozens of different grass diseases. Just as you wouldn’t want your baby in anyone’s hands but the most qualified sitter, you should only give your grass to professionals.
Too many homeowners assume that their landscaping is basically set-and-forget, and they become confused and distraught when they find dead patches, weeds and other ugly intrusions on their precious lawn. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to keep your lawn alive – as long as you are willing to hire someone who does.