Suburbanites across America often suffer from “lush lawn envy” because they don’t have the time or desire to keep up with yard work. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, more adults (17%) said they would rather go to the dentist than work on their lawns.
It’s no wonder. “Many people think that more is better, when it comes to lawn care: The more frequently they fertilize their lawn, the more often they water, mow it and etc., the healthier their grass will look,” said Consumer Reports Deputy Home & Yard Editor Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, in a statement.
“Actually you can have a green, healthy lawn — and spend more time enjoying it — with far less maintenance than you think,” Lehrman added.
Consumer Reports compiled a list of six lawn-care tips to help you save up to 65 hours a year on yard work. The list also combats a few widely accepted myths, like a healthy lawn is a green lawn.
Here’s a recap:
- Let the lawn go brown during dry spells: This seems counterintuitive to green thumb enthusiasts, but according to Doug Soldat, turf expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a change in color is a sign that the grass is simply conserving nutrients. However, watch out for straw-colored grass, which is a sign that the plant is just days away from death.
- Fertilize less frequently: Contrary to the recommendations of fertilizer peddlers, Consumer Reports says lawns can thrive with just two annual applications of fertilizer. When are the best times to feed? Memorial Day and Labor Day (a bit earlier in the South).
- Let the grass grow a bit longer: When it comes to mowing, moderation is key. Grass cut too short can damage the roots. Let your grass grow too tall, and you’ve got a mini-jungle on your hands. According to turf experts, a good rule of thumb is to let grass grow to about 5 inches before revving up your mower.
- Mulch, don’t bag: The days of lawn-mower bags are numbered. Rob Golembiewski, turf-grass specialist at Oregon State University, said 99% of the time, it’s better to mulch, which is simply the process of spreading the grass clippings over your yard.
- Live with certain weeds and pests: It only takes one rogue dandelion to raise the dander of any self-respecting gardener, but the bright yellow weed could actually improve soil. On the other hand, crabgrass and grubs are worth the time it takes to remove.
- Give low-maintenance grasses a look: Many varieties of grass are available that will make it easy to obtain and maintain a gorgeous lawn.
Read the complete story — and learn what adults would rather do other than yard work — at Consumer Reports.