Even in the age of smartphones, binge TV and all things electronic, a recent survey found that 75% of Americans think it’s important to spend time outside in their yard. For those that have a yard, 90% think it’s important that it is well-maintained. A well-maintained landscape is more than a place to relax and play, it can also help sell your home – 84% of Americans say the quality of a home’s landscaping would impact their decision to buy.
91% of Americans prefer to live in a home surrounded by trees, grass and other living plants.” ~Harris Poll on behalf of NALP
Having a nicely landscaped yard doesn’t have to take up all your time, money and energy. With careful planning and preparation, you can create a landscape that not only looks great, but also provides enjoyment for you and your family.
1. Create A Solid Foundation
A beautiful and healthy landscape starts with the soil. Most plants, grasses, shrubs and trees thrive in well-drained loam soil – a mixture of sand, silt and clay – that encourages growth while reducing the need for fertilizer and intense irrigation. If your soil can absorb a half inch of water or more per hour, it’s considered “well-drained”. However, few of us are lucky enough to come by it naturally – more often we will have sandy or clay soil. Sandy soil doesn’t hold water while clay soil can create drainage issues. To help improve drainage and encourage healthy nutrient absorption, both types of soil may need to be supplemented with well-composted organic material.
Not sure what kind of soil you have or what’s in it? You can have your lawn and garden soil tested by your state’s University Extension Service. The results will show you your current soil conditions along with what needs to be applied for your type of lawn, flower garden, vegetables, etc.
2. Reduce Weeds
No one likes seeing weeds in their flower bed or garden! Since weeds tend to grow where water is abundant, you can control their growth by focusing irrigation on your plants instead of watering the whole garden. You can hand water or pick up a customizable irrigation kit. This allows you to adjust features to fit your garden, so you can concentrate water around the plants that need it most and set up timers so your plants don’t get more water than they need.
Landscape fabric also helps to prevent weeds. If you’re starting a new garden, lay the landscape fabric down first, and once you’ve placed your plants, apply mulch on top to act as a second barrier against weed growth. If you have an established garden, you may still be able to utilize landscape fabric; you’ll just have to cut holes in the fabric for your established plants.
3. Use Smart Irrigation To Conserve Water
During the spring and summer months, we often see our water bill creep up as we begin watering our lawns and gardens. Many times, this use of water is inefficient – experts estimate that more than 50% of commercial and residential irrigation water use goes to waste due to evaporation, runoff, or over-watering.
Here’s how to save money and water with better irrigation:
- Reset your sprinkler heads. A simple twist of the sprinkler head can redirect the spray to your grass and plants instead of the driveway and sidewalk.
- Get the timing and amount right. Water in the early morning or late afternoon to limit evaporation and prevent fungal diseases. Avoid overwatering your landscape by watering for 15-30 minutes at a time.
- Use mulch in flower beds and gardens. Dried grass clippings, wood chips, straw or small rocks can all be used to keep the soil moist and prevent weeds.
- Landscaping with plants that are native to your area or a species that have adapted to the local can reduce outdoor water use by 20 to 50 percent.
4. Create Visual Interest
Using a mix of shapes, textures, annuals and perennials can add visual interest to your landscape. Upright linear growing plants can be positioned next to round or low-growing plants to create interest. You can create maximum impact by consolidate annuals in pots or beds at high-visibility locations such as the entryway and patio. Keep in mind the amount of sun and precipitation levels when choosing your plants.
- For shady areas, plant hostas, begonias, fuchsias or other shade-tolerant plants that flourish with less than six hours of sun per day.
- In the sunnier areas of your yard, plant geraniums, chrysanthemums or other sun-loving perennials.
- Purple coneflower (also known as Echinacea), sage, lavender or other drought-tolerant plants are great for Colorado’s drier climate and are low maintenance.
5. Include Native Plants In Your Landscape
Native plants are accustomed to your local environment. As a result, they’re low maintenance and require less water and fewer pesticides than non-native plants. This means you’ll spend less time fussing with them and more time admiring their beauty. Native plants also provide important food and habitat for local wildlife, keep invasive plants at bay, control erosion and protest water quality.
6. Improve the Health of Your Grass
The time you spend outside in the yard can be enhanced by maintaining a health lawn. Here are a few tips to keeps those greens healthy:
- Choose the right grass that thrives in your region. If you live in an area with water restrictions, choose varieties such as Buffalo grass, St. Augustine grass or Bermuda grass, to name a few.
- Use an organic fertilizer. This will improve the look and health of your grass while ensuring you don’t put any harmful chemicals near your home.
- Install a smart irrigation controller to reduce water use. They use on-site sensors to adjust the sprinkler run time based on local weather conditions. They not only save water, but also save money on your water bill.
- Mow. Using a sharp blade on your mower that you’re not damaging your lawn when you’re moving it. Vary your mowing pattern. When you mow in a different direction each time you mow you avoid compacting the soil and allow the grass to stand up nice and tall.
Whether your landscape venture is a multiphase project or a Saturday trip to the nursery, try some (or all) of these landscaping ideas to spruce up your yard. The result is sure to bring you years of enjoyment!