Landscaping on a Budget
Has your lawn seen better days? From overgrown weeds to brown patches, an unkempt yard might be bringing down your curb appeal a few notches. But before you shell out the money to hire a pro to fix it—or worse, give up on your lawn completely—check out these affordable solutions. All your yard needs is a little (cheap) TLC.
Take a Test
Some chronic lawn issues—such as browning, thinning, and wilting—may stem from poor soil conditions. Get to the root of the problem by using the Covery 3 in 1 Soil Tester Kit. After inserting the probe into the ground, you’ll be able to measure the moisture, light, and pH levels of your soil. Use these measurements to determine whether the conditions are ideal for healthy grass growth, or whether the soil composition needs improvement. Making a few simple tweaks may give you the lush green lawn you’ve always wanted! Available on Amazon; $12.99.
Related: 7 Lawn Care Myths Debunked
If you've ever mulched your garden beds or created a rustic path in your yard with it, you know that windy days or mischievous squirrels can throw that soil all over your yard. Not a great look. Lucky for those who love the look of mulch, but hate picking pieces of bark out of the lawn, there's a faux alternative. This mulch-like mat, measuring 22 inches wide and 6 feet long, can be cut to size to create a custom garden path that will stay put all season long—no raking required! Available from Plow & Hearth; $44.95.
Related: 10 Ways to Weather-Proof Your Garden
Fleas, grubs, caterpillars, and a variety of other soil-dwelling insects wreak havoc on lawns and cause huge headaches for homeowners. Of course you always have the option of applying chemical pesticides, but if you’d prefer an effective, all-natural solution, consider this: You can fight back and win against lawn pests by releasing beneficial bugs—nematodes, to be exact—into your landscape. Microscopic and translucent, nematodes hunt and eliminate over 230 different kinds of lawn pests, while posing no danger to people, pets, or plants. Sure, it may seem strange to buy insects—over the internet, no less—but BioLogic Scanmask makes the process of obtaining and introducing nematodes easy, affordable, and sanitary. Available on Amazon; $45.99.
Weed 'Em Out
Dandelions, thistle, and other common lawn weeds quickly turn a lush carpet of green into a plot that looks ragged and unloved. Of course, there are various effective strategies for preventing weeds from emerging in the first place, but only a lucky few homeowners avoid ever having to remove weeds manually, the old-fashioned way. Doing so isn’t rocket science, but it’s physically taxing, especially for those prone to sore knees and back aches. Your best bet? A stand-up weeder like this one. Simply place the head of the long-handled tool over the weed, step down on the foot platform, and watch as serrated, stainless-steel claws grab the weed by the root, enabling you to remove it completely, without any hassle. Available at Walmart; $48.78.
A Brighter Path
When out to rescue a rather drab yard, start with the age-old advice to "work with what you've got." You can highlight your landscape's best features easily by staking solar lights directly along their perimeters. Beyond that, your work is done! A set like Voona's LED Solar Path Lights charge during the day on their own and illuminate for up to eight hours after dark to make sure your delicate shrubbery is seen and your path lit—no need to change out a bulb or pay extra on electricity. Stainless steel design will look spiff no matter the elements you leave them out in. Available on Amazon; $34.99 for eight.
Related: 8 New Ideas for DIY Outdoor Lighting
Step On It
Let’s face it: bare, patchy grass negatively impacts your curb appeal. For a virtually effortless solution, hide the eyesore with some garden accessories. These stepping stones from Plow & Hearth will easily disguise ugly grass while adding a unique decorative element to your yard. What’s more, the all-weather, resin rocks are comfortable for walking, which allows the stones to work double-duty as a pathway through your lawn. Available from Plow & Hearth; $24.98.
Wear Your Tools
Yard maintenance can be as easy as buckling shoes when you're working with the innovative Abcosport Lawn Aerator Shoes. Spikes along the bottom of these one-size-fits-all soles poke holes into the ground as you walk to improve circulation of air, water, and nutrients and increase your odds at a lush and vibrant lawn. Just remember to strap them to the bottom of any sneaker or work boot before you go out to mow, and you can check off both tasks in one go! Available on Amazon; $25.97.
If your pet makes a mess on the living room rug, there's an endless number of cleaning solutions that can bust the stains. When your pet goes on the lawn, however, there's little you can do to keep the grass from turning brown. If you want to keep your turf healthy and green, you'll need to keep it from becoming a doggie bathroom. Consider establishing a pet station in the corner of your yard or on the far side of your patio. Train your dog to use a strip of fake grass, like this one, rather than the lawn. The grass washes clean with water from a hose and can remain outdoors all year round—whether it's lawn mowing season or not. Available on Amazon; $16.99.
Dethatch Your Grass
Thatch—a build up of organic matter like dead grass, stems, and leaves—can provide beneficial nutrients to your lawn, but too much of it can stunt grass growth. If your lawn is looking meager and you notice a mass of organic matter choking your grass blades at their base, then it’s time to dethatch. It may seem like just another chore to add to your list of yard work, but the GreenWorks Corded Dethatcher will help you get the job done in no time. The lightweight push tractor cuts a 14” path with its sharp, stainless steel tines while running on a 10 amp motor. It delivers a comparable performance to its competitors, but doesn't require any gas and it produces a zero carbon footprint. Available on Amazon; $128.95.
Feed It Right
The best fix for getting a healthy lawn is making sure it has a good diet. If you consistently feed it the nutrients it needs, you’ll avoid problems in the future. Using grass fertilizer, like Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food, strengthens your lawn to endure foot traffic, weather, and prevent new weeds from growing. A regularly fertilized lawn also absorbs water and nutrients better than a yard that goes unfed. This fertilizer can be applied anytime of year and with any type of grass—so no excuses, start caring for your lawn now. Available on Amazon; $15.44.
The Grass Is Always Greener...
Save some green while making your lawn green. These handy landscaping tools are the affordable solutions you need for a better yard.
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.