If thinking about yard work fills you with dread, try putting a few of these handy landscaping hacks to the test. These clever practices will allow you to spend less time getting your hands down and dirt-filled, and more time DIYing that foam core picture wall in your home or prepping for your next big BBQ.
1. Gather Yard Waste with a Tarp
Whether you’re raking leaves or pulling weeds, tarps can be a helpful way to cut your lug and load time in half. Rake your dead leaves directly onto a tarp and skip the little piles from all over your yard. Then, once you have a good amount of leaves gathered, roll pull the tarp up and toss the leaves, or load them into the back of a truck with ease. The same goes for weeding a garden, or any serious yard work that involves getting rid of waste.
2. Aerate with Your Feet
Aerating can be a costly process if you hire an outside expert, and it can be a pain to have to clomp through lawn chunks for a week or two after aerating takes place. To make things easier, pick up a pair of aerating shoes and a take casual walk in them every now and then. The spike attachments will fit on your favorite yard working shoes.
Aerating is generally done in the fall—when some people prefer to rent a large aerator and knock out the process in one go—but you can get a jump on with your shoes and work in small, manageable chunks. Even a little bit of aeration can help your yard stay healthy, since it improves the flow of water through the earth, delivering nutrients to your grass or other plants.
3. Lay Mowable Paths
Mowing the lawn can be a hassle when you have a million little stones to maneuver around. One of our favorite reduce yard work hacks is installing a path in your lawn that's one hundred percent flush with the ground. This means that when you’re mowing you can pass right over the stones without damaging your mower or having to stop and test out your mower moving skills.
You can either buy or make your own stones for this project. You'll need to dig holes the approximate size of your stones (plus a little extra on the depth). Make sure you have the shape of your path set out exactly how you want it, then pour a concrete subbase into the hole—about one and a half inches. Lay your stones or pavers into the cement, leaving a little room around the edges for the cement to set up for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. After a day or two, you can fill in along the sides of your pavers and your mowable stone path will be complete.
4. Build Patio Space
It may take more work up front, but if mowing and weeding and general lawn care are the banes of your existence, the solution may be to start building. Build a patio, a pool, a sandbox, a swing set, a gazebo or a sports court—anything that reduces the overall amount of lawn you have to love. Check with local zoning laws and make sure you’ve got the green light, then designate a large (or small) portion of your yard to something that does not require weeding on a summer Saturday morning.
5. Fertilize at the Right Time
If you’re a DIYer through and through, it’s likely that you’re fertilizing your own grass. Fertilizing can be a pain, so strategically picking the best time of year to feed your plants—and only going through the hassle once—can reduce the amount of time you spend swearing under your breath in the yard.
Do a little research on the area you live in and only fertilize one time a year instead of two or three. Generally, it’s best to fertilize in the fall, but this can differ from location to location.