Landscaping Image

Liven Up Your Landscaping

T.E. Cunningham Image
With summer rolling in, don’t let your neighbor show you up with his immaculate lawn. You know the guy I’m talking about! Adorned in his plaid shorts, he spends the entire weekend in his yard with the mower, trimmer, and an assortment of outdoor projects to prove himself the master of his perfectly manicured domain. Well, this summer, you can give him a run for his money and have time for family and friends. 

Tailoring the look of your home’s exterior to your personality and preferences is something you can tackle yourself, even with a limited budget. A stunning yard doesn’t have to cost a lot or require hours of maintenance each week.  

In “yard world” the grass is clearly king - most great outdoor looks start with a healthy, beautiful lawn.

“Homeowners should seed and apply most of the fertilizer in the fall, use a good quality crab grass preventer in the spring and treat for other weeds on an as-needed basis,” recommends Cameron Rees, General Manager at Skinner Garden Store in Topeka. If blades look withered or brown, you probably need to water more often. You should be able to easily push a butter knife into the ground at least six inches; if you can’t, haul out the hose. 

Also, do not set your lawnmower blades too close to the ground. “The proper blade height is about 3½ to 4 inches in height from the ground. Never remove more than 1/3 of the total blade height in a single mowing. This means that if you allow your lawn to overgrow, you need to trim it back down to preferred height in multiple mowings. Doing it all at once, stresses the lawn and increases weed issues,” says Rees.  

Once your grass has been treated and is looking great, it’s time to add visual interest. Rees offers some quick tips to liven up your landscape:

  • Perennials are plants that return year after year, while annuals are planted and live for only one season. For a budget-friendly flower choice, fill your garden with perennials. Also, go heavy on the evergreens to give your yard year-round color.

  • Regardless of the season, it's a good idea to tackle any overlooked pruning chores because nothing says neglect like a bunch of dead branches.

  • Consider buying or renting a power washer to clean paved surfaces. With very little time or effort, you can make grungy, grimy surfaces look brand-spanking new. Power washers also do a great job of cleaning fences, as well as brick and vinyl siding.

  • Install retaining walls, even if they are only 3 to 4 pavers high, to create visual interest and prevent soil erosion; you can even create an herb garden as part of your plant makeup.

  • Create a unique walkway or pathway via a high traffic area. You can use lumber, concrete, stones and more to make the walk a showstopper. Use reclaimed wood to create additional visual interest.

  • “You can also achieve additional focal points by outlining a beautiful tree or two with stones or pavers, but do not add soil to the existing ground, as that can kill your trees,” cautions Rees. Another option is to add a fountain or chiminea to your patio or deck.

  • Spruce up trees and flower and plant beds with a new application of mulch, annually. Again, according to Rees, a light layer is best; do not exceed a 3-inch build-up to protect the life of your trees and plants. The color enhances the contrast of the surrounding plants and makes everything pop. Better yet, mulch is relatively cheap and easy to apply.

  • Light up your landscaping in both the front and back yard, both with “uplighting” and outdoor decorative lighting.

  • Berms can create borders between properties without fences and, if well-landscaped, add beauty and privacy.

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