How to get the best-looking lawn for your time and money

beautiful country home with exceptional landscaping
Photo courtesy of The LaurelRock Company/LoveYourLandscape.org

If grubs overtake your lawn this spring, will you know how to get rid of them? Do you have the time and skill to effectively patch those ugly bare spots that developed over the winter? A lush lawn and beautiful landscape are on virtually every homeowner’s wish list, but a lack of time and knowledge commonly keep people from effectively caring for their own lawns.

Americans spend an average of just 20 minutes a day on lawn care, according to the American Time Use Survey. What’s more, many homeowners don’t know how to properly care for their lawn and landscape, a Harris Poll reveals. Conducted on behalf of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the survey found that while nearly seven in 10 Americans said their lawn could be better, nearly one in three didn’t know how often to water their lawns and nearly a third admitted to not knowing how to grow a healthy lawn.

“A healthy lawn isn’t just for cosmetic appeal,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NALP. “Properly maintained lawns can not only elevate home value but also reduce exposure to weed-induced allergies and help purify the air in communities.”

Of the 94 percent of people with landscaping around their homes, 44 percent hired professionals to help over the past year. Working with lawn care professionals can help ensure your lawn remains healthy and attractive all year round.

NALP offers some advice for getting the most for your money when you work with a lawn care professional:

* Put some thought and research into the hiring process. Look for lawn care companies that are members of an industry association, and ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. When you’re interviewing companies, find out how long they’ve been in business and the experience level of staff. If you live in a state that requires lawn care professionals to be licensed, make sure the one you’re considering has a valid license. Ask for a written, detailed contract that specifies what work the company will be doing in your yard.

* Talk with your lawn care professional about your long-term vision for your yard so you can develop a master plan together. For example, if you envision large planting beds in front of your house or a shade garden in the backyard, they can help suggest how to progress in phases that will fit your budget.

* Be clear about your budget and expectations before hiring a lawn care professional. Will you want the company to aerate and seed the grass? Manage weeds and troubleshoot problem areas? Your lawn care professional can work with you to include specific tasks in a contract that sets expectations for both parties.

* Be open to your lawn care professional’s suggestion about types of grass seed for your landscape. Often, professionals prefer working with grasses and plants that are native to your region since they’re most likely to thrive in your landscape.

* Follow your lawn care professional’s guidance for watering and any other lawn care tasks that you’ll be handling yourself. Ideally, your DIY efforts should complement the work your professional is doing, rather than undermine it. For example, if your lawn care professional seeds your lawn to fill in some bare spots, follow his or her instructions for watering the seed to ensure the best possible results.

Seventy-five percent of Realtors have suggested home sellers do a standard lawn care program before putting their homes on the market, according to the 2016 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors and the NALP. What’s more, 14 percent say professional lawn care helped close a sale for them, and the project recovers 303 percent of its investment value at the time of sale, the report found. To find a lawn care professional near you, visit www.loveyourlandscape.org.

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