How to Make Your Lawn Unique
How often do you see someone else's lawn and think, "I wish I had my lawn like that"? Well, now you can! There are many ways to customize your lawn, from adding flowers or trees to creating unique lawn designs. If you want to create a beautiful lawn, you don't have to hire a landscaper. You can do it yourself.
All you need is some time, patience, and creativity. There are plenty of things you can do to improve your lawn, such as planting grass seed, fertilizing, mowing, watering, and trimming. These simple steps will give you a lush green lawn and a healthy yard.
Planting Premium Grass Seed
When spring arrives, people notice their lawn first is its color. If your lawn has been brown or yellow for years, it may be time to plant grass seed. This process can take several weeks or months, depending on when you plan to use it.
You can buy a pre-sprouted mix at garden centers containing all the ingredients needed to grow grass seed. However, if you prefer to start with bare soil, you will need to prepare the ground by removing rocks, weeds, and debris before you plant.
Preparing the Ground
Before planting grass seed in your yard, remove any stones, roots, sticks, or other objects that could damage the seedlings. Also, clean up the area around the plants; this includes picking up leaves and twigs that might get carried away during heavy rains.
Dig holes large enough to hold the seeds. Then place them in shallow containers where they can stay moist until sown. Keep the container out of direct sunlight and water only once per week.
1. Sow Grass Seed
Now comes the fun part: Sow the grass seed! Once the sun starts shining, open the package and gently sprinkle the seed over the top layer of dirt in the hole. Cover the seeds with another thin layer of dirt to dry out.
Water thoroughly, making sure to soak the entire area. Place small stones on the surface to keep the seeds below the soil line and let them come back to life. When the seedling sprouts, add more dirt to cover the stems. Continue to water every few days to promote growth. Feed your garden about four times a year to ensure the plants get all the nutrients they need.
2. Fertilize Your Lawn
The best way to care for your lawn is through the proper application of fertilizer. According to the American Association of Natives Landscapes, most homeowners apply between 50% and 75% of recommendations. Unfortunately, many people rely on store-bought fertilizers, containing little to no nutrients. To avoid these products and save money, make your fertilizer.
The simplest method is to use the kitchen sink. Fill it halfway with tap water and stir in one cup of household ammonia for each gallon of water used. Let rest overnight, then drain into the lawn. Repeat 6 to 8 times throughout the growing season.
After using this homemade fertilizer, wait one month before applying again for a healthy yard. Another option is to purchase and premix the fertilizer. A good rule of thumb is to use approximately half the total Nitrogen recommended on the label. For example, if the label says to use 2 gallons of Nitrogen, you would use 1 gallon of Premix.
3. Selecting and Maintaining Trees and Shrubs
Selecting the right tree or shrub can make an outdoor space feel cozy, homey and give it an attractive design. But while growing these types of plants in your backyard can provide privacy and shade, there are also a lot of benefits to planting a variety of native plants and trees.
Native species offer many advantages, including being hardy and naturally pest resistant. They require little maintenance, thrive well in most climates, and help reduce erosion and attract wildlife.
In addition to providing a natural look, these types of plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen as they grow. In short, they function as carbon sinks, helping to remove CO2 from the air. These plants also create habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, bugs, and other creatures who depend on trees for food and shelter.
Finally, studies show that landscapes planted with native species have lower levels of herbicide residue than those planted with non-native species. When planning your landscape design, consider adding trees and shrubs that bloom later in fall and early winter and maintain their color through spring. You can find native trees and shrubs at local nurseries and online.
The Arbor Day Foundation offers several lists of native trees and shrubs that grow well in the Northeast US. Remember to pick carefully – some plants may be invasive and spread easily.
4. Selecting Plants That Bloom During Spring
Springtime brings vibrant colors to nature's palette. Flowers are colorful and fragrant, attracting pollinators such as birds, bees, and butterflies to our yards. During spring, plants that flower include tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, daylilies, lilacs, azaleas, and camellias.
Many of these plants are available locally at local nurseries.
Some can even be grown indoors. If you live near an arboretum or botanical garden, take advantage of these gardens' plant collections to help create your color scheme.
5. Get Graphic with Your Lawn
There are so many attractive designs and ways to add Interest to a lawn. From gravel paths to stone walls to wooden fences, just about anything can serve as the base for a striking feature. Sketch out what you want your yard to look like to get started.
Draw flowers, bushes, or other objects that you see in parks and gardens. Then break down your ideas into small sections, like steps or driveways. Don't forget about the plants around your home.
Are there any evergreen shrubs or herbs? What do they look like when they're in full bloom? Think about how you could incorporate them into your plan by planting them along walkways, borders, or pathways.
Play with shapes, use contrasts and compliments to give your lawn many visual appeals. For example, a brick wall next to grass and perennials creates a contrast against the plain green backdrop. A circular driveway is visually interesting, but don't go overboard. Too much pattern spoils the overall effect.
6. Use Stone to Create Interest
If you've got a big budget for landscaping, you might want to consider using natural stones instead of concrete. Although it's more expensive to install, the final product lasts longer and requires less upkeep.
Find out if your municipality has guidelines for where you can place stones. Also, check with your landscape designer before going too crazy. The right amount of stone can add texture and character to a yard without overwhelming.
You can buy ready-made pavers or make your own with recycled materials. For inspiration, browse photos of houses with stone patios, sidewalks, and fireplaces. Once you've settled on a style, keep it simple. Avoid creating lines or patterns. Instead, use complementary colors, textures, and shapes that work together. This will provide a unified appearance while allowing each element to stand out.
7. Add Curved Paths
A curved path gives your landscape a modern feel. Whether you desire a country cottage garden or a contemporary outdoor retreat, curves are always fun to play with. They also offer a different way to access your house and shed than straight paths.
You can create your curving pathway by laying bricks or paving stones to create a curve. Or, you can use existing terrain features to guide you. Think of your yard as a living sculpture that tells its own story. If you have a hill, build stairs up; if you have a valley, create a bridge across it; if you have a pond, perhaps build a dock.
8. Build a Simple Water Feature
Water features like a water fountain will add charm to landscapes. They encourage people to linger outdoors, providing shade or shelter from the sun. And they bring life to your backyard — whether you choose a fountain, waterfalls, or streams. In addition to adding beauty, water features also reduce maintenance costs since they require little attention.
However, some features, like fountains, take time to care for properly. Before investing in one, find out how easy it is to maintain. If you'd rather not commit to having a fountain or stream in your yard, think about installing a rain barrel.
Rain barrels collect rainwater from your roof, filter it and channel it away from your home. You'll then use this filtered water for irrigation purposes. Of course, rain barrels won't be suitable for every property. But they can help you save money on water bills and contribute to a greener environment.
9. Install a Pergola
Pergolas are great additions to any landscape and offer plenty of benefits. Installing a pergola transforms an ordinary backyard into something special and adds value to your home. It provides a shady spot for relaxing outside, especially when it turns hot. Plus, built pergolas often include benches, tables, and other amenities to facilitate socializing and entertaining.
10. Put up Some Bamboo Trellises
Bamboo trellises look beautiful and provide ample space to grow plants. They're also affordable and easy to install. Bamboo is available at most hardware stores. You can purchase pre-cut bamboo or plant your own. The trick is learning how to attach bamboo to a fence without breaking it. To do so, drill holes through the bamboo stakes before attaching them to the fence. Then, nail the bamboo to the fence using galvanized nails. Finally, cover the exposed portions of the bamboo with clear plastic tape. That's all there is to it!
11. Create a 'Center' For the Yard
Whether you want to make your backyard more welcoming or create a focal point, consider planting shrubs or flowers around a central feature. This could be a tall tree with spreading branches, a stone wall, or even a bench. Whatever you decide, make sure you pick something that enhances your landscape. If you plan to plant a tree, ensure it is appropriate for your climate and soil type. Be sure to consult with a professional arborist or landscape designer to get advice on the best trees for your region.
12. Grow Beds of Flowers
If you're looking for a quick way to transform your garden into a lush oasis, consider growing beds of annual and perennial bedding plants. Annuals and perennials bloom seasonally and throughout the year, making them ideal choices for any outdoor space. Try flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and crocosmia. Try mixing plants to create color combinations that complement each other. For example, combine several colors of peonies with blue delphiniums. Or, mix daisies with roses.
Around the flowers, you can open into a smaller central lawn to create an illusion of space. Try planting grasses like zoysia, Bermuda, or St. Augustine, which have excellent weed control and require minimal maintenance. Maintain these areas by applying fertilizer once a month, mowing the grass regularly, and removing weeds periodically.
12. Mow the Lawn
Mowing the lawn is an important part of maintaining a healthy yard. However, many people don't know when to mow the lawn because they over-mow or under-mow it. Overly shorted lawns will need frequent trimming, while excessively long lawns may cause problems such as mold growth. Too much moisture causes leaves to turn yellow prematurely. Conversely, too little moisture results in dry, dead spots on the lawn where weeds thrive.
The perfect length for a lawn depends upon your local climate and soil conditions. In general, mowing should occur no sooner than 1/3 of the total height of the mature grass and no later than about 2/3 of its height. So if your grass is 5 feet tall, then you should mow every three weeks, meaning that you would cut one-quarter of the total height, leaving two-thirds intact.
A good rule of thumb to achieve your unique lawn is to mow once a week during the hottest months of the summer and twice weekly during colder months. If you wait until springtime before doing so, you'll miss out on those few precious extra inches of green grass.
If you live in an area that gets cold winters, mulching instead of cutting low-growing grasses and groundcovers help keep weeds down and prevent snow from compacting the surface. When planting new lawn patches, avoid placing sod directly on top of existing turf; this makes it difficult to transition between the two types of grasses. Instead, use plugs or starter strips to help break up the old lawn.
13. Keep It Clean
Keep the soil clean to prevent fungi and bacteria from infecting it. Use an aerator to loosen the dirt, allowing air and water to penetrate the lawn's root zone. To do this, remove the blades from your riding mower and insert a small plastic tube into the rear of the blade housing. Push the tube through the housing and pull the handles apart to release it. Then, slide the tip of the tube into the soil, rotate it at least five times, and push it back into the blade. Afterward, replace the blade and continue using it.
Your lawn has more character than you think. By following just a handful of simple tips, you can improve the look and health of your lawn without spending hours working in the yard. Do it in bits until you get your desired attractive design, then repeat. You won't regret giving your unique lawn some tender loving care.