When you think of a beautiful lawn what comes to mind?  Stunning dark green grass, without a weed in sight?  Probably.  But also big dollar signs you’ll spend on a lawn service to create such a well-manicured lawn.  But it really isn’t that hard or expensive to get and maintain a nice yard.  Sure it may not be as dark green or perfect like those lawn services give you but it can be respectable and affordable.

The inspiration for this article came from my brother-in-law who asked me as we moved them into their new house, “how do I keep the yard looking nice?”  That got me thinking and I came up with three easy steps.

Step 1 – Soil Sample your yard.  Soil sampling is a must if you want to get a beautiful yard and not over spend simply by pulling a few soil samples randomly from your yard and sending them to a lab. You can find out what your soil needs.  Think of it as a report card on your soil.  The main information you want from your soil report is pH, phosphorous and potash.   Of these pH the first factor to balance and its usually the least expensive to fix.  Lime is used to raise your pH and may need applied every 3-5 years depending on your soil type.  Keeping a neutral pH of 7.0 will also help your fertilizer work efficiently and to its full potential.  That brings us to step 2.

Step 2 – Fertilizer & Weed Control.  These really could be two separate topics but anymore you find many “Weed & Feed” mixes of fertilizer with weed control combined.    These are an easy and relatively safe way to feed your yard in Spring while cleaning up weeds at the same time.  It’s best to control weeds while they are small. Try to choose a fertilizer according to what your soil sample is recommending.  This is true for commercial or organic fertilizers.   Hopefully you will only need to apply a fertilizer or weed control product to get your yard back into the “optimum” level and will not need regular fertilizer or weed control.  A healthy yard will out compete many weeds.

Step 3 – Overseed & Aerate.  Even if you keep those pesky weeds out and balance your soil pH & fertility, your yard will still start to thin over time.  Dry summers, foot/pawl traffic and other stresses simply take their toll on grass and it will need some rejuvenating.   Aerating can be done in Fall or Spring to break thatch, that mat of old roots and leaves.  Seed can be spread at the same time.  The very best time to seed is in the Fall with a slit speeder but I have found throwing seed on the yard in late winter when the night temps are below freezing and the days are warm is a great way to thicken a yard.

Even if you’re not familiar with some of these steps, once you start trying them you will soon become comfortable with the products and will discover it doesn’t take a lawn service to get and maintain a beautiful lawn.