No more yard waste

Wynne Everett

Wasted gas, water and time can sink your budget for summer lawn maintenance in a hurry. Mike Moulton of Five Seasons Landscape Management in Columbus, Ohio, suggests these tips for making the most of your yard-care budget this summer.

Sharpen your mower blades

You waste time and gas using a dull-bladed mower that does a poor job of cutting. Get blades sharpened once or twice a season. Also, get the blades sharpened before using a new mower. Manufacturers intentionally ship new mowers with dull blades to prevent injury.

Cut your grass taller

You will save time, mower gas and water. Plus, Moulton said, your lawn will be green and beautiful if you cut grass at 3 to 3 1/2 inches high. Your yard wasn’t meant to look like a golf course, where irrigation, professional-grade mowers and commercial chemicals produce greens that look like indoor carpet. Let go of that money-wasting fantasy.

Mulch your gardens and landscaped areas

Mulch cuts down on your watering and weeding costs while protecting your plants in both hot and cool weather, Moulton said.

Don’t spend too much on fertilizer treatments

Investigate any company you’re considering hiring, and don’t hire anyone who offers more than four or five treatments a season. “These days you see companies offering seven treatments, and that’s just not necessary. They’re watering down their applications, which isn’t good. You need four or, at most, five treatments a year.”

Invest in professional landscaping

A professional can save you money by knowing which plants are suitable for your yard and by helping you stick to a budget. To make sure you get the most of your designer’s time, contact him or her in the offseason — December or January.

Pick the right plant for your conditions

Investigate what sort of soil, sun and watering conditions various plants require before you waste money on a plant that won’t survive.

Invest in your soil

“Spend money on soil amendments,” Moulton said. “Everyone wants to buy the biggest, prettiest plants, but if you spend some of your money on proper soil amendments, then in three or four years that smaller plant is going to be big and beautiful.”

Get your soil tested For $25 or $30 you can find a local extension agent or testing company to do a soil analysis on your lawn or garden. With this information you are properly armed to supplement the soil with just what it needs, Moulton said.

Use an efficient watering method

Losing water to evaporation wastes money and doesn’t benefit your plants. Choose a watering method that allows for the least evaporation — focused water cans instead of garden hoses, or soaker hoses instead of sprinklers, for instance.