Spring is finally upon us, and while many of us have been home-bound the past few weeks due to stay-at-home orders courtesy of COVID-19, most of us are still hoping to attend a few backyard parties in the coming weeks as social-distancing orders start to lift. Therefore, if you enjoy hosting a good barbecue, then you will want to make sure your hard work this spring pays off; and we’re not just talking about cutting the grass (although this is obviously an important step). For the healthiest looking yard on the block this year, make sure you also weed, trim, edge, cleanup, and water your grass as part of your ongoing lawn maintenance routine.
The Benefits of Weekly Lawn Maintenance Beyond a Beautiful Yard
Did you know that the average homeowner spends approximately four hours a week doing yard work, which adds up to mowing your lawn roughly 30 times a year. Considering that there are only 52 weeks in a year, if you are spending 30 of those weeks cutting the grass, you should probably invest in quality equipment that will last you more than a season. That said, maintaining a beautiful lawn is more than just adhering to your Home Owner’s Association’s covenants.
For one, being outside, enjoying the weather, by yourself while getting some natural vitamin D is worth every penny you’ll spend getting set up. But why stop there? Mowing your lawn is also a great time to listen to books on tape or jam out to your favorite album (instead of your kids’ music) while exercising muscles you forgot you had! And let’s not forget the satisfaction of seeing how beautiful your yard looks after you’re done.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the lawn maintenance steps that you should be practicing this spring if you want the best looking yard in the neighborhood this season!
Mow the Grass
Cutting Height and Consistency
Before you fire up your lawnmower for the first time, pay attention to your cutting height. Mowing height and frequency play a big role in the overall health of your lawn. For example, cutting your grass shorter on the front end of the season can help regenerate dormant grass breeds (such as Bermuda), but can also increase the frequency in which it needs to be cut to stay healthy, and can make your grass more susceptible to diseases. As a general rule, most grass types are most healthy when they are between 2-3 inches in length, so never remove more than a third of the length of the grass blades at any given time if you want your lawn to be healthy.
Consistency is also important. During the spring, you may need to mow your grass as often as once per week. However, as we get into summer, you may find that you can go as much as two weeks in between cuts. Then, as temperatures start to drop, you may only need to cut your grass once a month until the grass starts to go into a dormant stage again. The key is to decide on a pattern and stick to it (ex. every Saturday morning). Mowing regularly should also decrease the amount of weeding you’ll have to do.
Is the type of mower important when it comes to lawn maintenance?
The type of mower you use determines how effective or demanding your task will be. As such, there are a variety of options – none of which are wrong. Depending on the amount you want to spend and the size of your yard, there are walk-behind mowers and riding mowers to fit any budget for your lawn maintenance needs. Let’s assume that you want a standard walk-behind mower.
Walk-behind motorized lawn mowers come in two common styles: a push mower that requires you to push a motorized blade cutter with wheels across the lawn and a self-propelled motor that does almost the same thing but isn’t quite as demanding on the user. Until recently, both options required gas to operate.
This RYOBI ONE+ Cordless Battery Walk-Behind Mower, powered by an 18-Volt 4.0 Ah Lithium-ion battery changes the game when it comes to mowing your lawn, and is perfect for smaller lawns or for cutting down in the ditch. Compatible with over 125 other ONE+ tools, this battery-operated walk-behind mower features a push-button start and 5-position single point height adjustment so that you’re ready to start cutting your grass in seconds without having to worry about gas or oil. Weighing only 27 lbs, this mower is much easier to navigate than its peers, and the easy fold-down handle makes it much more convenient to store when not being used. Additionally, the durable, hard top grass bag and 2-in-1 mulching or bagging system allow you to get the job done quickly.
Get Rid of the Weeds
While your mower should have done most of the heavy lifting, most yards still require some level of “weed whacking” as part of your weekly lawn maintenance routine. A string trimmer’s job is to get rid of the weeds as well as trim back any areas of your lawn that your mower can’t reach such as shrubs, around play equipment, trees, or against a fence line. Trimmers come in a variety of sizes and power capabilities, with straight or curved shafts and can be powered by gas, propane, electricity, or batteries. Whatever you choose, be sure to wear safety glasses (sunglasses also work on sunny days), closed-toe shoes, and heavy pants to protect yourself from flying rocks or debris. Also, be sure to keep your feet and hands away from the string at all times (as well as keep away from other people).
We use the ONE+ Lithium+ 18-Volt Brushless String Trimmer which has a brushless motor for maximum power and durability, while the Expand-it attachment capability allows you to transform your trimmer into an edger, blower, pole saw and many more tools with the available attachments, meaning you can save time, space and money. It’s also equipped with the Reel Easy Bump Feed Head with Speed Winder which can be reloaded in 60-seconds or less. The variable speed trigger and 2-speed switch deliver increased control for any application. The adjustable 13 in. to 15 in. cutting width allows you to optimize your trimmer for increased run time or a wider cut swath.
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Before starting it, find the most comfortable position for yourself using the adjustable front handle so that you don’t overtire while working. While this string trimmer weighs only 11 lbs (with the battery attached), it also operates on a 4.0 Ah battery for extended run time so you don’t want to give out before your battery does.
Now hold the trimmer level with the grass using the height of the grass as a reference point and start trimming such that you don’t cut too deeply into the grass (you don’t want your yard to look like it got a bad haircut). Trimming work should be slow, steady, and well planned. In fact, start trimming where you want to end so that you will end up where you started.
Edge for a Professional Look
If you want your yard to look like the professionals did it, take your lawn maintenance routine a step further and use the RYOBI Expand-It Edger Attachment to transform your string trimmer into a powerful edger. Edgers are used to vertically cut along the edges of the patios, paths, curbs, sidewalks, driveways, even planter beds; and should be used with the same level of caution you’d use with any other piece of lawn care equipment (protective eyewear, long pants, and closed-toe shoes).
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Your first edging job of the season may require a little more effort, but the more often you edge your lawn, the easier and faster subsequent jobs will be. Most of the time, you will only need to edge after every other mow.
With that in mind, start by aligning the cutting blade of the edger with the edge of the grass, then walk forward along that edge while moving the edger forward and back to get a nice clean cut. Cut down at least a half-inch past the edge of the surface you are trimming. You can adjust the depth on the 8 in. serrated blade to help you create professional edges on different areas in your yard. After some time, the edger blade will need to be replaced; however, you can get the most out of your dual serrated edging blade by reversing it when dull to make use of fresh cutting edges and extending the life of the blade.
Trim the Hedges
While trimming the hedges isn’t necessarily part of your weekly lawn maintenance routine, it’s still something that should be done every 6-8 weeks (at a minimum) depending on the type of plants in your yard and the amount of rainfall. And again, don’t forget to wear your safety gear!
Start by shearing the interior and other obvious problem areas first, then use your ONE+ Lithium+ 22 in. 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer to refine the shape. This hedge trimmer has upgraded 22 in. dual-action blades and a 3/4 in. cut capacity, meaning that it can take on even the toughest hedges, but that doesn’t mean that you should try to cut off too much all at once. Slowly run your hedge trimmer along each side of the bush, taking off a little at a time. Don’t be afraid to take frequent breaks so that you can take a step back and assess the shape. This trimmer has a wrap-around front handle and rotating rear handle that provides precision cutting at any angle, so just take your time. The trimmer will clear any clippings and debris while you trim.
In fact, professionals tend to leave the bottom part of a hedge wider than the top. Since the lower branches don’t receive as much sunlight, they typically die faster; and if you don’t overcompensate for this fallout, your bushes will start to look uneven and eventually grow weak. Pay particular attention to the natural growing pattern of your hedges so that your shrubbery stays healthy and strong all season long.
Once you’ve achieved an even and clean edge, use your hand shears to make any finishing touches.
Blow All Dirt and Grass Clippings Back Onto the Lawn
Your weekly lawn maintenance routine isn’t complete until you’ve blown all the dirt, grass and hedge clippings back onto the lawn using your RYOBI 18V ONE+ Lithium-Ion Brushless Whisper Blower. The intelligent brushless motor delivers maximum power while being the quietest handheld blower at only 54 dB.
This quiet blower features a turbo button and variable speed trigger that allows you to control the output of air, and a jet fan design that increases airflow by delivering an impressive 410 CFM of clearing power which allows you to complete your yard cleanup faster. Just be careful that you don’t mess up your brand new edge while blowing off the yard. If you blow the trimmings into the new cut edges of the grass (against the hard surfaces), the build-up of soil and debris will cause the grass to grow onto the surface. No one wants that.
Water Your Lawn
Finally, a healthy lawn requires watering. However, how often you water your lawn depends largely on where you live, the specific grass type in your lawn, and how much rain is available. The main reason to water the grass during the summer is to maintain an attractive color (preferably green); however if your lawn is dying, simply watering it may not resolve your issues. For example, consider how you’re watering. Deep, infrequent waterings can help to encourage deep root growth; while shallow, frequent waterings often lead to shallow root growth and weak roots.
If you’re getting less than 1″ of precipitation a week, it’s time to consider supplementing with a sprinkler, but no more than 1″ of supplemental watering each week. Water your grass in the early morning if you want to avoid scorching and to make sure the blades are dry before the humidity sets in to prevent disease.
ONE+ Cordless Battery Walk-Behind Mower | ONE+ Lithium+ 18-Volt Brushless String Trimmer | Expand-It Edger Attachment | ONE+ Lithium+ 22 in. 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Hedge Trimmer | 18V ONE+ Lithium-Ion Brushless Whisper Blower
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Once you get started for the season, maintaining a beautiful and healthy lawn is only a matter of consistently keeping up your weekly lawn maintenance routine. Do you have the right tools for the job?
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Photo Credits: Ashley Sisk