11 Tips for Lawn Care on a Budget

There is no doubt that lawn care can be expensive. When you factor in fertilizer, lawn mower maintenance, gas, watering, and other costs, homeowners can be out hundreds of dollars per year. It could be potentially more in certain circumstances. If you are on a budget or your money is tight, lawn care is one of the first places you are likely looking to cut costs. Below we have provided tips on saving money maintaining your lawn but still have a presentable yard that you are proud of owning. Here are 11 ways to save money on your lawn maintenance without sacrificing the curb appeal of your home.

  1. Do It Yourself – Mowing your lawn will save you a substantial amount of money over the long haul. The average lifespan of a lawnmower is about nine years. When you consider routine mower maintenance and gas, the do-it-yourself cost is a fraction of what you pay a lawn company to mow once a week.

2. Ask a Neighbor – When I was in high school, my friend had a lawn care business consisting of a couple of walk-behind mowers and a junky trailer. I worked with him each summer and after school occasionally. Each spring, we would pass out flyers across the neighborhood offering a budget lawn service. The point of this story is that there are teens in many areas across the country looking to make some money but don’t expect to earn a professional lawn care salary. If you cannot mow your lawn, ask around the neighborhood for assistance from someone willing to work at a reasonable price that fits your budget.

3. Community Assistance – In some communities, some programs allow for discounted or free lawn care for veterans, the elderly, and disabled individuals. 

4. Mulch – Mulching your grass clippings is healthy for your lawn and saves money. First, when you mulch, you do not have to waste gas by continually stopping the mower from emptying the grass bag attached to your mower. To mulch, the lawnmower mulching blade cuts up the grass into tiny pieces. These pieces fall back into the lawn and are unnoticeable under normal mowing conditions. If your clipping must be placed in a compost bag for disposal, you will save on the cost of not having to use one since the clipping will recycle back into the lawn.

5. Cut Back the Water – A brown does not necessarily mean it is dead. Lawns will turn brown when they are dormant. This is most noticeable in the winter, but you can see it in the summer during drought conditions. A lawn can stay static in the summer for about 3-4 weeks before a risk of death occurs. It will need water for survival beyond that. Please don’t rush to water your lawn at the first sign that it is turning brown. If you are on a budget, it is likely best to wait it out and see if Mother Nature will be kind and provide rain before there is a severe risk to the health of your lawn.

6. Manual Over Powered – If you have a small lawn, manual lawn tools can effectively avoid the costly expense of powered devices. There are reel lawn mowers, manual edgers, and manual aerators that provide the same result as powered tools. Manual tools will require more physical energy and time, but they are inexpensive. Be prepared to work up a sweat if you go the manual route.

7. Fertilizer – Morganite is one of our favorite fertilizers because it is natural, challenging to mess up (over-fertilize), cheap, and highly effective. You don’t always need to buy expensive synthetic fertilizers for stellar results. It is a good resource on organic fertilizing that most lawns would benefit from following. If you have a weed problem in your property that you want to take care of, you will need to buy something like Weed B Gone spray or a weed and feed product to eliminate this problem.

8. Mow Tall – Mowing a lawn at a high mower deck setting will keep the grass blades long. This will help the lawn soil retain moisture since it will be better protected from the sun and wind.

Additionally, longer grass blades also help shade out weeds. This prevents them from receiving adequate sunlight for growth. By mowing tall, you essentially reduce the amount of water needed for the lawn and help deter weed problems that can be costly to remedy.

9. Mow Less – Many people seem to have an addiction to mowing their lawn low and often. In the summer, I walk around my neighborhood, and you will see near putting green-style yards at many homes. Longer grass makes for a healthier lawn. You should keep your grass mowed to 2 to 4 inches, cutting only 1/3 of the grass blades off in one mowing session. Do not mow the lawn if it will take the grass down to less than 2 inches, especially in drought conditions. You can measure your mowing height by opening the side discharge and measuring from the ground to the blade. Before doing this, pull the spark plug and be extremely careful not to cut your hand on the edge.

10.  Split Aeration Costs – Renting an aerate a couple of times a year can set you back $100-$200 (or more) per year. Many people do not aerate because of the cost. However, splitting the rental expense with a neighbor or two can make aerating a realistic option that will improve the health of your lawn.

11. Use Quality Grass Seed – Buying a cheap grass seed when establishing a new lawn or bare seeding spots is often tempting. However, we have found that it is rarely a good idea to plant cheap seeds. Do a bit of research and find a quality grass seed that has been proven to withstand the harsh elements in your region (i.e., droughts, extreme sunlight, etc.). The cost of a high-quality source will be expensive upfront, but it will likely save you money from not having to reseed or deal with other turf problems in the long term.