You Are At: AllSands Home > Gardening > Lawn care tips
Think it costs a lot to have a great lawn? It does, if you choose to go that direction. After you buy a high-powered riding lawnmower, a trimmer, tons of fertilizer and herbicide, water hoses, etc., you could be out several hundred dollars.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Here are some tips for having that great lawn without digging deep into your pocketbook and your precious time.

1. Know when to mow and when not to mow.

The house next to mine was abandoned after the owner died and the heirs refused to have anything to do with the property. The grass grew, and grew, and grew until it was taller than my small children. Finally, after a year of impatience, I told the lawyer in charge of the estate that I would mow the grass for the safety of the children. Plus, the estate would get the bill. Anyway, the first mowing revealed something interesting. When you let grass grow too tall, it bunches and causes the grass below it to die. Every six inches, you might find a small clump of grass. You get the same kind of effect when you leave a used tire on the ground for a month. The grass under it dies.

After a few mows, I noticed that the grass started to spread, and the lawn looked better. Use the principle to deal with weeds. We have a fast-growing strain of grass in our yard. If allowed to outgrow the clover and other weeds, but not allowed to grow too much, the grass will overtake the weeds. Hence, you don't necessarily have to apply herbicide to deal with certain weeds. And, your grandparents used a forked hoe to deal with dandelions. You can, too.

I suggest that you mow low to the ground in the first of the spring. Some people call this "scalping." Be careful not to do what I did when I scalped a root. The shaft and the blade on the mower bent, unnecessarily costing me some money.

Then, let the grass grow two-three inches high before cutting again. Do this two or three times, then mow at the first sign of needing a mowing.

I tend to mow like I care for my hair - I get it short and wait a long time until the next cutting. However, find the balance that suits you.

2. Use a mulcher for thin lawns.

I have used a mulcher blade on my lawn when the grass was thin. This allows for the grass to spread naturally. However, don't do that forever, as you'll choke out your grass with too much mulch. Take off the mulcher blade and let the trimmings either fly into your bag or be raked after you mow.

3. Trim before you mow.

This is a quick tip for saving a little time. If you trim the edges before you mow, you will mow over the trimmings, saving you from raking them afterwards.

4. Look for good deals on equipment.

The local pawnshops and yard sales contain many good buys. If you are on a tight budget, use older equipment until you can afford newer equipment.

I learned the hard way about being too tight to buy a trimmer. It really is a vital tool for a good-looking lawn. You can get a new gas trimmer as low as $60 and a new push mower for as low as $90

If you buy new equipment from a store or old equipment from a mower shop, ask about warranties. Sometimes they are not worth the money, sometimes they are. Ask yourself if you expect the cost of breaking down to exceed the cost of new equipment. If so, check out the warranties.

5. Save the fertilizer and water.

Unless you live in a desert or an area of extended drought, don't worry about watering your lawn. Where I live in eastern Oklahoma, we get enough rain to keep the grass nice and green.

If you do think you need to water, do so at night so the water will soak into the ground instead of evaporating into the air. A little on a regular basis is better than a good soaking once a blue moon.

Fertilizer is a double-edged sword. If you use it, you'll mow a lot more. If you don't, your grass may be too thin. However, follow my tips for mulching and mowing, and you will probably not have to use too much if any fertilizer.

6. Do the work yourself.

While this option does not save you time, it saves you money. The other day, an enterprising young man asked my wife if he could mow the grass. She said no, and that's a good thing: Lawn care is part of my exercise regimen. I would rather mow for an hour than run circles around a track for an hour. The workout is better because it tones my whole body. Therefore, mowing my own grass gives me a workout, saves me the money of joining a gym, and provides me the satisfaction of a job well done.

One of my pet peeves is an unmowed lawn. I spend precious little money on lawn care, but the results are satisfactory. If you take these tips, you too can have a good-looking lawn.