When I was a kid, I loved running through our freshly mowed lawn on warm spring and summer afternoons. But as an adult, I look at the lawn and start seeing bills and receipts. Who knew lawns could be so expensive?
Lawn care demands a huge list of tasks: seeding, fertilizing, watering, mowing, trimming and maintaining. Here are some tips for curbing those costs.
This first tip might sound counterintuitive: How can buying fertilizer save you money?
I know that lawn fertilizers cost a bundle. A 30-pound bag of lime at my local home improvement store costs $15. (Lime helps acidic soils absorb fertilizer and seed better.) An additional bag of all-around fertilizer costs another $18. That means we've just shelled out $33 plus tax, and growing season hasn't even started yet.
But fertilizers help keep your grass green, strong and healthy throughout the hot summer months. That means you will spend less money watering the lawn.
Water at night
The single biggest way in which I save money on lawn care is by not watering my lawn. I fertilize it well and then let nature take its course.
Of course, I also live in a humid environment. If you live in a part of the country in which you must water your lawn, run the sprinklers at night or in the early morning before dawn. Less water will evaporate, which means you will get more for your money.
Mow it yourself
If you can cobble together the upfront cash to buy a lawn mower, you will save big bucks by mowing your own lawn rather than hiring a local lawn care company.
You can save even more by purchasing a low-maintenance lawn mower. My first mower (which I bought in 2011) was an old-fashioned push mower, the kind without an engine. It took me a little longer to mow the lawn, but I never had to pay for gasoline or tuneups.
Avoid grass altogether
Have you heard of xeriscaping? It's the practice of filling your yard with drought-tolerant native plants that don't require watering.
Most people associate xeriscaping with arid climates such as Arizona, but you can do it anywhere, even moist climates such as my state of Georgia. This practice can save you a ton of money on watering and maintaining your yard.
Paula Pant blogs at AffordAnything.com about creating wealth and living life on your own terms. She's traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns five rental units and works for herself. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.