By: Gary Garner Sr.
I recently was trying to think of some tips that might save you time, labor and maybe a little money on your lawn care. The “Lazy Man” is always trying to find a quick, easy and cheaper way to care for his lawn
Obviously, the easiest way is to hire someone to do the lawn. That may not be the quickest and certainly not the cheapest. Consider the following three tips to accomplish all three goals, time saving, labor saving and money saving.
He are three “Quick Tips.” Read on for a more in depth explanation:
- Weeding Your Beds – Weed frequently for short periods of time!
- Leaf Removal – Remove leaves frequently especially before rainfalls. Leaves piled up on grass for extended periods will kill the grass (especially wet, “matted” leaves.
- Pruning Shrubs – One plan definitely does not fit all. Different varieties of shrubs need to be pruned at different times of the year. Rather than the prune all at once method try pruning shrubs at the ideal time for each shrub/variety. Essentially you’ll create a series of smaller more manageable “jobs”!
Tip 1. Weeding your beds
When we first starting in the grounds maintenance business we would weed flower and shrub beds once each month. This kept the beds looking presentable and the customers seemed to be satisfied. It usually consumed an hour to an hour and a half each time we weeded the beds.
I noticed that when we did a usual lawn mowing and string trimming the beds, walks, etc. that usually one man finished before the other and had maybe ten minutes to stand around while the other person finished.
I tried assigning whoever finished first to weed and clean the beds while he was waiting for the other man to finish. I found he could take a sprayer of roundup and a small trowel and do the beds in about ten minutes if the job was done each week when we mowed. This obviously saved us all three goals, time, labor and money.
The same thing would work for you in doing your own lawn care. If each time you mowed the lawn upon finishing mowing you would take just a few minutes to weed and clean the mulched beds. The weeds don’t have time to get as large and debris doesn’t accumulate in the beds.
Give this tip a try I think you will find it worthwhile.
Tip 2 Leaf Removal
Most of us dread to see our trees starting to shed leaves in the fall. Different varieties of trees shed leaves at different times in different ways. Most deciduous trees (trees that shed most if not all of their leaves in the fall) shed most of their leaves if not all within a short period of time in early to mid-fall. A strong wind can help to remove the leaves. In a wet and warm late summer, with a wet early fall leaves will stay on the trees somewhat longer. A white oak leaves turn brown in the fall and they lose some leaves but a lot of the dead, dry leaves hang on until the new leaves push them off in the spring. Last, evergreen trees and shrubs stay green all year, however, every leaf on the plant falls off within a year. They lose some leaves almost every day and at the same time growing new ones.
Irregardless of how and when they lose leaves most of us dread to see leaves fall and know they need to be removed as soon as possible. Just like cleaning the beds discussed above removing them often is less work and less trouble than letting them accumulate and trying to remove them all at one time. Dead leaves piled up on the grass will damage and possibly kill the grass.
The easiest way to rid the lawn of leaves is to just run over the lawn weekly and chop them up. The ground up leaves add nutrients to the lawn as well as acting to loosen the soil as they decompose. If you have an excessive number of trees this may not be practical. If you decide to chop the leaves with the mower, remember the leaves are acid forming and you will need to lime your lawn more often to compensate for the acid in the leaves.
If your decision is to rake the leaves in order to remove them, you will find it takes a lot less labor and time to rake them often, weekly, if possible, rather than once or twice late in the fall.
I still like raking and burning them. I loved the smell of burning leaves on that Saturday in the Fall when people in the neighborhood were raking and burning leaves. AND YES, I know that’s not a popular point of view in today’s world. I would remind you that doesn’t mean it’s wrong it just means it’s not popular.
Tip 3 Pruning Shrubs
Pruning shrubs is the third place where often you can save time, labor and money. Pruning shrubs is one place where one plan definitely does not fit all. Different varieties of shrubs need to be pruned at different times of the year.
Spring blooming plants such as azaleas and rhododendron to name two out of many should be pruned within four to six weeks after they finish blooming. Wait any longer and you start cutting off next year’s bloom. Spring blooming plants start to set next year’s bloom about six weeks after spring bloom.
Later summer and fall blooming plants can be pruned as soon as they finish blooming. If you wait, they can be pruned over the winter just make sure you finish pruning them before they start to put out new growth in the spring.
Evergreen shrubs such as Japanese holly and boxwood again to name a couple are planted for their foliage not their bloom. They do have a bloom but the bloom is not showy. They can be pruned almost any time without damage.
I added almost any time without damage because I don’t like to prune anything in September or October. My reasoning on this is that pruned then it’s likely to put out new growth and if you get an early fall cold snap it may burn that new growth and damage or kill the plant.
With all this said on pruning try to prune all of your plants at least once a year. Light pruning is good for the plants. It helps to make them thicken up and they look much better and your house and yard looks much better.
I’ve pruned shrubby for customers that had not been pruned for years. It took days in some cases and we hauled away many truckloads of trimmings. The cost to the customer ran into four figures. Also, it took three to four years before the plants filled out and made the house and yard look good. This could all have been prevented by twice a year light pruning.
Just a few tips on how to keep your yard and plants show their best. If the outside of your house looks good people assume the inside looks the same. I hope you find them useful.