Sunnier days mean there are more hours in a day to dedicate to your yard. And that’s good news, because good curb appeal will improve the look—and value—of your home. But often the idea of landscaping can be intimidating to homeowners. Which project should you prioritize, and which ones can you accomplish without the help of a professional? The last thing you want to do is destroy your lawn.
If you’re staring at your yard and feeling overwhelmed, jump into beautifying your outdoor area with the following landscaping projects we guarantee you can handle with your own two hands.
1. Mow the lawn
If you enjoy the beauty of lush, green grass in your back or front yard, you’ll need to know how to mow it.
“If a homeowner learns the basics of mowing: how to avoid scalping, cutting when dry, et cetera, it really is quite a simple task that provides tremendous satisfaction when completed,” says Chris Sherrington, technical director at Lawn Doctor.
One rule of thumb: Never cut the grass when it’s wet, otherwise you risk leaving unsightly ruts or clumps of wet grass that can smother new sprouts.
In terms of height, 3 to 3.5 inches is accepted as good for most grasses, and you should never cut more than one-third of the grass blade during one mowing.
“Since the root system of a grass plant grows proportionately to the above grounds parts of the plant, a longer cutting height results in a stronger, deeper root system, according to Dr. Brad DeBels, director of operations at Weed Man Lawn Care.
2. Fertilize the lawn
Fertilization is important for a green and healthy lawn. While it can be a rigorous process, DeBels says it’s something that a homeowner can tackle using off-the-shelf nutrient products.
Fertilizer works best when applied during active growth periods, but not in the heat of midsummer. If you live in the North, you’ll want to feed your lawn once in spring and once in fall. Southern-state dwellers should fertilize once in early summer and once in late summer.
So how do you choose the best fertilizer for your lawn? Most homeowners can go with a mixture that has a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. But because different lawns have different needs, you may want to select one that has more phosphorus or potassium (these two chemicals help produce roots in damaged lawns).
Using a broadcast spreader to sprinkle the fertilizer on your lawn will be much easier than spreading the seeds by hand. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer bag for the recommended flow setting, and, when in doubt, use less than you think you’ll need.
3. Small seeding projects
Small seeding projects, like planting a bed of perennials or flowering shrubs, can be tackled at your leisure, but the key is to purchase a seed blend or mix that matches your current plant community, according to DeBels. You can find high-quality seed varieties at your local home improvement store or nursery.
“The key to seeding success is good seed-to-soil contact. Don’t simply disperse the seeds on the surface. And you have to water regularly,” DeBels says. For large seeding projects, he recommends contacting a professional.
4. Scarifying the yard
No, we’re not talking about putting up Halloween decorations.
Scarifying or dethatching removes dead grass (and other items) from your lawn. However, Sherrington says that a thin layer of thatch (one half inch or less), is actually good for your lawn. “But more than that can keep soils too moist, and trap fungus and bacterial disease in this layer,” he explains.
Mow your lawn a week before you plan to scarify. Water a couple of days before so the grass is lightly moist. Use a dethatching rake or a dethatcher to remove the layer of debris on top of your lawn. Be very gentle to avoid pulling up the grass itself.
An essential part of maintaining your landscape, of course, is watering. Luckily, it’s a task that any homeowner can handle. Sherrington recommends watering at least three times a week, and he recommends one-third of an inch of water each session.
“With a rain gauge and sprinklers, a homeowner can easily adjust their watering schedules according to weather and grass conditions,” he says.
Sometimes, your lawn may need additional water, but how can you tell? “Areas of the lawn, especially near concrete or asphalt (sidewalks and driveways), under large trees, and on slopes, can take on a dark, silvery or smoky blue-green haze,” DeBels says. In extreme cases, the lawn appears yellowish. “Also, there are footprints, or lawnmower wheel marks don’t spring back shortly after they are made.”
**Original post source: Terri Williams at Realtor.com