Looking for ways to prevent your yard from leaving you high and dry? Here’s some simple steps you can take to help save money with lawn and garden maintenance.
You Don’t Have To Go The Whole Nine Yards: The simplest step to saving money with lawn care is to let your grass grow to about 2 inches tall. The added height creates shade, which allows soil to hold more moisture, lessening the need for watering. Also, it’s most effective to water slowly, longer and deeply, which lets the water penetrate the soil.
Don’t Water the Driveway: That’s just pouring money down the drain. If you need to clean the driveway or sidewalk, grab a broom.
Give Your Lawn A Tuna-up: One way to gauge your yard’s watering needs is with the “tuna can test.” In this EPA-recommended experiment, you place several empty tuna cans around your yard and see how long it takes to fill them with half an inch of water. Then, water for that length of time twice a week and see how well your yard does; you can make adjustments if it’s too much or too little water.
Avoid the Sun: Watering (or setting your sprinklers to go off) before sunrise or after sunset saves both water and money. This time strategy can reduce an average homeowner’s water usage by an estimated 80 percent since sunlight can cause 14 percent of water to evaporate before it even reaches the soil.
Go the Rotary Route: With sprinkler systems, rotary nozzles are more cost-effective than traditional fan-spray nozzles. Rotary nozzles cut down misting (which causes evaporation) and run-off (which wastes water), while also improving water absorption in the soil – which could save you up to $200 a year. The EPA estimates that a broken sprinkler head alone can lead to nearly $200 in wasted water per year.
Shed a Little Turf: Not sure if you want to convert to a drought-tolerant lawn? Even putting in 250 square feet of water-wise landscaping can save you $100 annually. Also, check to see if rebates are available in your area for a lawn conversion from your local department of water and power.
Reuse Your Refuse: Skip expensive trips to gardening stores by simply repurposing scrap items. Cut 25 percent off of your fertilizer needs by leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Create your own fertilizer by composting your garden scraps and food waste. Nutrient-rich coffee grounds and tea leaves can be composted or used to fertilize the soil. Additionally, citrus peels can aid plants plagued by mild pest infestation. While they aren’t as effective as commercial chemical products they are an organic, cheaper alternative.
Weed Out Weeds: Instead of buying weed-killers, try placing a piece of wet cardboard over the weeds, and then cover with a couple inches of mulch to prevent resurfacing. Zap weeds growing in sidewalk or driveway crevices with pure white vinegar. The highly versatile vinegar also has helpful uses against fungi, fruit flies, snakes, snails and other garden pests.
Draw the Line on Ants: Chalk has magical powers over ants – they will not cross a chalk line. Cinnamon and, yes, vinegar both have aromas that ants hate. Concoct an anti-ant spray by combining equal amounts of vinegar (either apple cider or white) and water. You can also sprinkle cinnamon around doors and windows to ward off ants as well as creating an insect repellent by mixing a couple of drops of cinnamon oil with water or sunscreen. Please note that all of these options don’t kill or eradicate ants, but deter them.