Lawn Care on a Budget

There is no doubt that lawn care can be expensive. When you factor in fertilizer, lawn mower maintenance, gas, watering, and other costs, homeowners can be out hundreds of dollars per year. It could be potentially more in certain circumstances.

If you are on a budget or your money is tight, one of the first places you are likely looking to cut costs is with lawn care. Below we have provide tips on how to save money maintaining your lawn , but still have a presentable yard that you are proud of.

11 Tips for Budget Lawn Care

We asked our affiliates over at peakyard.com to help us develop a list of tips to assist homeowners in budget-friendly lawn care. Here are 11 ways to save money on your lawn maintenance without sacrificing the curb appeal of your home.

  1. Do It Yourself – Mowing your own lawn will save you a substantial amount of money over the long-haul. The average lifespan of a lawn mower is about 9 years. When you consider routine mower maintenance and gas, the do-it-yourself cost is a fraction of what you pay a lawn company to mow once a week.
  2. Ask a Neighbor – When I was in high school, my friend had a lawn care business consisting of a couple of walk-behind mowers and a junky trailer. I worked with him each summer and after school occasionally. Each spring we would pass out flyers across the neighborhood offering a budget lawn service. The point of this story is that there are teens in many neighborhoods across the country looking to make some money, but don’t expect to earn a professional lawn care salary. If you are unable to mow your own lawn, ask around the neighborhood for assistance from someone willing to work at a reasonable price that fits your budget.
  3. Community Assistance – In some communities their are programs that allow for discounted or free lawn care for veterans, the elderly, and disabled individuals. An example is Raising Men Lawn Care out of Huntsville, Alabama. You can find these services through places such as local churches, local government, or searching online.
  4. Mulch – Mulching your grass clippings is healthy for your lawn and saves money. First, when you mulch, you do not have to waste gas by continually stopping the mower to empty the grass bag attached to your mower. To mulch, the lawn mower mulching blade cuts up the grass into tiny pieces. These pieces fall back into the lawn and are unnoticeable under normal mowing conditions. If your clipping must be placed in a compost bag for disposal, you will save on the cost of not having to use one since the clipping will recycled back into the lawn.
  5. Cut Back the Water – A brown does not necessarily mean it is dead. Lawns will turn brown when they are dormant. This is most noticeable in the winter, but you can see it in the summer as well during drought conditions. A lawn can stay dormant in the summer for about 3-4 weeks before a risk of death occurs. It will need water for survival beyond that. Don’t rush to water your lawn at the first sign that it is turning brown. If you are on a budget, it is likely best to wait it out and see if Mother Nature will be kind and provide rain before there is a severe risk to the health of your lawn.
  6. Manual Over Powered – If you have a small lawn, manual lawn tools can be an effective way to avoid the costly expense of powered tools. There are reel lawn mowers, manual edgers, and manual aerators that provide the same end result as powered tools. Manual tools will require more physical energy and time, but they are inexpensive. Be prepared to work up a sweat if you go the manual route.
  7. Fertilizer – Milorganite is one of our favorite fertilizers because it is natural, difficult to mess up (over fertilize), cheap, and highly effective. You don’t always need to buy expensive synthetic fertilizers for stellar results. Here is a good resource on organic fertilizing that most lawns would benefit from following. If you have a weed problem in your lawn that you want to take care of, you will need to buy something like Weed B Gone spray or a weed and feed product, to eliminate this problem.
  8. Mow Tall – Mowing a lawn at a high mower deck setting will keep the grass blades long. This will help the lawn soil retain moisture since it will be better protected from the sun and wind. Additionally, longer grass blades also help shade out weeds. This prevents them from receiving adequate sunlight for growth. By mowing tall, you essentially reduce the amount of water needed for the lawn and help deter weed problems that can be costly to remedy.
  9. Mow Less – Many people seem to have an addiction to mowing their lawn low and often. A walk around my neighborhood in the summer and you will see near putting green style lawns at many homes. Longer grass makes for a healthier lawn. You should keep your grass mowed to 2 to 4 inches, cutting only 1/3 of the grass blades off in one mowing session. Do not mow the lawn if it will take the grass down to less than 2 inches, especially in drought conditions. You can measure your mowing height by opening the side discharge and measuring from the ground to the blade. Before you do this, pull the spark plug and be extremely careful not to cut your hand on the blade.
  10. Split Aeration Costs – Renting an aerate a couple times a year can set you back $100-$200 (or more) per year. Many people do not aerate because of the cost. However, splitting the rental expense with a neighbor or two can making aerating a realistic option that will improve the health of your lawn.
  11. Use Quality Grass Seed – It is often tempting to buy a cheap grass seed when establishing a new lawn or seeding bare spots. However, we have found that it is rarely a good idea to plant cheap seed. Do a bit of research and find a quality grass seed that has been proven to withstand the harsh elements in your region (i.e. droughts, extreme sunlight, etc.). The cost of a high-quality seed will be expensive up front, but in the long-term it will likely save you money from not having to reseed or deal with other turf problems.