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How to save on lawn care

By Paula Pant ·
Monday, April 15, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

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.

Fertilize well

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 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.

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April 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I have a small lawn in the front, and no lawn in back. I used to think that you "needed" a gas mower because that's just what we always had.

When I was down at Home Depot, a push-type or reel mower caught my eye. I thought, what the heck, let me try it.

For my needs, it's perfect. I live in the city and I don't have a lot of space to store a big powered mower. Plus, I have a small yard, so it takes almost exactly the same time to mow the lawn with or without the power. So, I agree with this post, at least for my circumstances. Obviously, if you have a large yard in the suburbs, a push mower may not work for you.

Bob Brown Thumbs
April 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Please try maintaining your own landscape for a few months. Then in the heat of the summer when you can't make yourself start again after vacation, let it go wild. When the town comes to give you a fine for health code violations, let me know how overpriced a service company is.

David Fletcher
April 17, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I agree with the response you sent me concerning proper watering of your lawn.Yes, it will vary depending on the region you live in.The problem with your article is, you did not mention any of this to the reader. The reader in my 28 years of lawn and landscape design, is not being fully informed.

April 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

can you give me a name of a fertilizer that will help my lawn, but not hurt any animals? Thank you.

April 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I agree with everyone else....this woman is a joke. This is what I would call useless information!

Mar Riccardo
April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

This article is a joke. She says alot of nothing. How can that save on lawn care if you want a nice lawn? I'll certainly know not to take anything serious from here.

Paula Pant
April 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

@David Fletcher -- That depends on what part of the country you live in. If you live in a humid region of the U.S., then watering at night can cause fungus and mildew. In that situation, it's better to water in the early morning, around dawn. (Or, if you can get away with doing so, to not water your lawn at all).

If you live in a more arid climate such as the southwestern U.S., watering at night can be a great choice. Fungus and mildew isn't as much of a concern in those regions.

Mr. Bojangles
April 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Really? This article is supposed to give me insight? My DOG could have told me the same stuff. Gimme a break! They PAY this woman to write this drivel? UFB!

David Fletcher
April 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

Watering your yard at night is bad advice. This can cause fungus issues.

April 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I don't completly agree with "save money" with engineless push mower. By the time,

1 : Account for amount of extra time you have to spend by using that with push gas mower (land you have to mow has to be also considered per time)
2 : Finding a person who can take care of blade each time,
3: Quality of result of the lawn, it is just not worth it.

But everything depends on person to person