There’s a lot to learn as a first-time homeowner. After weeks of internal inspections and walkthroughs, the lawn might be the last thing on your mind. Lawns, however, are an important part of homeownership that require dedication and care. A beautiful, well-maintained lawn or garden can even increase the value of your home.
This might be your first time caring for a lawn, so it’s important to start on the right track to set yourself up for future success. Here are 7 lawn-care tips for first-time homeowners.
The closing process is a great time to gather information about your new lawn. Your realtor expects you to have questions, especially as a first-time homebuyer. Use your real estate agent as a resource for understanding what kind of care your lawn has had in the past and what you will need once you move in.
Here are a few examples of questions you can ask:
- – When was the lawn last fertilized?
- – When was the last time the soil was tested?
- – Does the HOA or Condo Association have any requirements for lawn care?
- – Has the soil been aerated?
Buying your first home was expensive enough, and it can be tempting to buy more gardening and lawn care tools than you need. Spare your budget and start with a few basics. Look for what your new house already has, like spigots, in-ground sprinklers, or even a shed to store supplies.
Once you know what you have you can make a list of what you need. Some equipment you might need right away, depending on how much work or repair your lawn needs. Seasonality is important, too. Don’t rush to buy an expensive in-ground sprinkler system in the winter when the ground is hard, or buy an expensive mower when it’s not growing season for the grass.
Instead, start with the basics, like a manual lawnmower and garden hose, before you commit to expensive lawn equipment.
Soil testing is crucial for planning your lawn care. Soil isn’t just dirt. It’s a compound of organic matter that determines the health and success of anything you plant. Soil test kits are easy to find at any hardware store or nursery. These tests measure your soil’s pH, or whether your soil is acidic, alkaline, or neutral.
Most plants, but not all, prefer neutral soil. Understanding your soil’s pH will help narrow down your options for fertilizer, watering, and planting.
Lawns need specific nutrients – namely nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus – to produce lush grass. Most fertilizers will contain all three, but ratios will differ based on your lawn’s unique needs. Think of fertilizer as a vitamin for your lawn. Your lawn gets nutrients from the environment but may need a little boost of certain elements to stay healthy and green.
Your soil test results will indicate any nutrient deficiencies in your lawn. Those deficiencies will inform the fertilizer element ratio you choose. From there, you can decide whether you want gradual release, timed release, granular, or liquid fertilizer for your new lawn. When in doubt, ask experts at your local plant nursery or home goods store for a recommendation.
Your new lawn doesn’t just need water. All plants need oxygen to grow. Soil and grass become compacted over time, restricting your lawn’s ability to absorb oxygen. Aerating your soil is an essential step for caring for your new lawn.
You don’t need fancy equipment to aerate your soil, but make sure whatever aeration tool you choose won’t uproot your grass. Spike aerators afford you more control over where you aerate.
How much water is too much water? That’s what you’ll need to learn as a new homeowner to avoid overwatering, a common mistake among new plant parents. Keep your soil moist, not wet, to properly hydrate the grass without suffocating it.
If you start from scratch with fresh grass seed, you’ll have to water more frequently to keep the soil moist. You’ll also have to adjust your watering schedule during warmer months, and depending on how much rain your region gets.
Weeds can pop up in any yard and they compete with your grass for nutrients in the air and soil. They can overrun your lawn if you’re not careful. Pulling weeds by hand removes the root and prevents weeds from spreading throughout your yard. The most common weeds, like dandelions, will spread once they flower. Learn to identify early-stage weeds to remove them.
Chemical treatment options are also available to treat persistent weeds. These treatments, called herbicides, can either prevent new weeds from growing or kill weeds on contact. Removing weeds is necessary for a healthy yard and your property’s overall curb appeal, but be mindful of the potential environmental harm from continuous chemical use.
Understanding the basics of lawn care when you move into your new home will make gardening and landscaping easier down the line.
Take time to understand the state of your lawn by asking your realtor questions and testing the soil. Use that information to assemble a lawn-care plan as you adjust to your new home. Learn the basics of watering, fertilizing, and weeding and you’ll have a solid foundation for your lawn.