One of the often overlooked aspects of owning a new home is what to do with your new yard. While you might be focused on slapping new paint on your walls and unloading boxes, the prospect of a new yard that you can make all your own is also enticing. You don’t have to be a gardener or landscape artist to take the first steps towards making your new yard uniquely your own.
In this post, we’ve assembled some tips for new homeowners to start making that new yard another coveted part of their home.
1. Take a Walk
The first step in creating the yard you want is to get to know it. This starts with a walk-through with “intention.” Set aside some time to really pay attention to what is happening in your yard. Note, to the best of your ability, the types and conditions of the trees, plants, and grass. Do some look like they need some TLC? Do you notice any insect damage that might be a sign of a larger problem? Are any areas overgrown? Are some trees too close to the house or garage?
2. Educate Yourself
There is no shame in not knowing what, exactly, the plants and trees in your new yard are. Apps like Leaf Snap use photo recognition technology to make it easy to learn on the fly. If you have recently moved a great distance, you may have very different flora than you are used to seeing. The USDA offers a great plant hardiness map, which also features a zip code lookup feature. This is a great resource to help ensure you are picking out plants, shrubs, grasses, and trees that are best suited to your environment.
3. Basic Maintenance
After you have given your new yard the once over twice, it’s time to start getting your hands dirty. Start by pickup up any brush or debris that has settled in the yard. Getting that out of the way will have an immediate impact and pave the way for other projects. Weeding--everybody’s favorite—and applying mulch are both affordable ways to instantly transform a yard. Not only does it look great, it helps the rest of your grasses and plants, too. Mulch is great for your yard in a number of different ways, including keeping the soil cool, suppressing weed growth, and aiding in water retention for plants. To get the most water retention and weed suppression, you’ll want the mulch to be about three inches deep (after settling). Be cautious not to pile the mulch up against the trunks of trees and shrubs, though. This cuts off necessary air circulation. It’s best to leave a few inches around the trunk uncovered when you apply the mulch. You’ll also want to avoid piling mulch directly against your house. This can have the unwanted side effect of attracting termites.
4. Soil Testing
Nothing in your new yard will grow to its potential without healthy, balanced soil. Soil health is measured on criteria such as: drainage, good microorganism activity, adequate oxygen flow, and proper pH balance. You can take a soil sample to your local co-op extension office to have pH and nutrient levels tested. Though less-detailed, you can also pick up soil test kits at many lawn and garden stores. Ideally, you’ll want to test the soil every three years to ensure it is optimal. These tests can also dictate which types of fertilizers you may need to address balances related to phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients.
5. Mature Tree Health
If there is gold to be found in your yard, it is in the presence of mature trees. They are beautiful to behold and can offer shade, which is particularly helpful for cooling off in the summer months. Unless you are an arborist, you may want to consult one to get the most accurate assessment of your tree health.
If you have an arborist over, he/she can also give you the most accurate recommendations for pruning. In general, however, you’ll want to prune limbs or branches that are old, weak, brittle, or clearly showing some signs of disease. You’ll also want to take care of any limbs that are close enough to the roof or windows that they could cause damage. Proper and regular pruning will help contribute to the overall health of your trees and shrubs.
7. Take Note of Roots
Roots too close to the house can cause problems for your foundation, plumbing, patios and walkways. If you find that you do have roots near your foundation, consult a professional with regards to root pruning. This will help ensure you keep your foundation safe and allow you to sidestep potentially-costly repairs.
8. Your Grass Blend
If you want that lush, healthy lawn that will make you the envy of the neighborhood, you need to know a little bit about grass. Different types of grass are suited to different types of climates. For instance, some grasses are more resistant to drought than others. Some grow better in direct sunlight. Some grow better in shade. Some grow better in cooler weather, while others thrive in warmer conditions. If you have the wrong grass for your climate and yard, you will be fighting an uphill battle until you get the right grass. If patches of your lawn grow at different rates at different times of the year, that is your first sign that you have different grasses in your different places of your yard. If your whole lawn just looks unhealthy in general, you’d be wise to contact a lawn care professional.
9. Befriend a Landscaper
Your family doctor and/or dentist is best able to keep you healthy because, in part, they know your history and can make the best recommendations for your health accordingly. The same goes for your yard. Finding a trusted landscaper can help you realize the full potential of your yard, from basic weed control and fertilization, to full landscape design and installation projects.
A new yard is a world of opportunity right outside your door (literally). There are some steps you can take to start grooming it into the yard of your dreams. For more ambitious landscaping projects, we’d sure be appreciative if you gave E.P.M. LawnScape and Supply an opportunity to show you what we can do for you.
Feel free to contact us online or call us at (517) 990-0110 today!