Time-strapped homeowners take heart-you can have an attractive lawn. Dedicating less than two hours a week to the average lawn can produce great results if you prioritize your tasks, says the nationally known “Yard Doctor,” Trey Rogers, Ph.D.
A recent survey revealed that consumers’ number one lawn care problem was finding enough time to care for their yards.
“Having a nice-looking yard is important to most homeowners,” explains Rogers, the Michigan State University turf scientist who has helped grow grass for the Olympic Games as well as for average homeowners. “But when busy schedules create a time crunch, you can prioritize your lawn care tasks and look for shortcuts that will still allow you to have a good-looking lawn.”
He suggests these time-savers:
• Cut your lawn less often. Never “scalp” your lawn thinking you can mow less often. Letting grass grow a little longer is far healthier than mowing too close. Scalping damages the grass blades, preventing the damaged lawn from fending off pests, disease and weeds. When you mow, cut only a third of the length of the grass.
• Water more efficiently. If you use manually placed sprinklers, set them properly the first time you use them so they water as much of your lawn as possible without sprinkling sidewalks or driveways. Mark the locations so you won’t have to guess the next time. If you can leave the sprinkler attached to a water hose, you save a few more minutes-just unreel the hose. Water in the morning (perhaps while you are getting ready for work or getting the kids off to school) to enhance absorption and avoid evaporation.
• Get the kids to help. Put your kids in charge of easy yard care chores. Have them clear away all toys, sticks and other objects before you mow. They can also help with watering. Children should be out of the area and under supervision before you start to mow, however.
• Fertilize once, when it can do the most good. If you only have time for one application a year, fertilize at the beginning of the growing season with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. It’s less likely to damage your lawn if your application technique is not perfect, and it will continue to work for weeks.
• Keep your mower in good working order. Have it tuned up once a year or do it yourself (it takes 30 minutes or less; learn how at http://www.yardsmarts.com).
The Yard Doctor is part of the Briggs & Stratton Yard Smarts program, created to help homeowners achieve the yard they really want to have by providing knowledge and inspiration on lawn and yard care.
If you are pressed for time but want your yard to look nice, mow the front lawn first and the back in a day or two.