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4 Ways to make your landscape work for You!

Having a perfect back yard paradise is the dream of every suburban weekend warrior! We all want a flawless green lawn surrounded by lush and beautiful landscaping but that turns out to be ALOT of work....and a lot of CA$H.

Lawn tools for working in the back yard

With all that effort and money you invest into your property, it would be nice if you got a little ROI (return on investment) from your labors. Well it is possible to get a little something back. Below are 4 ways you can make your backyard landscape work for you!

WAY 1: Sunblock

As summer starts to heat up, we're all going to start feeling the burn. As it turns out, so will your house and lawn. When we get hot, what do we humans do? We dive for cover and drink refreshing beverages. Unfortunately for you home, it is powerless to avoid the sun's killer rays and when you house heats up, your wallet feels the heat too.

Air conditioning is a wondrous and remarkable technology but it aint cheap. Your house is subjected to hour of intense sunlight every day. Even worse, take a look at the roof of your house. If it's like most houses, it's covered in grey, brown, or BLACK shingles. That makes it HOT. Anything you can do to alleviate your home's cooling cost will be time well spend.

Invest in a shade tree or two and plant them near the house so that they will provide shade to the house during the hottest part of the day (mid-day to late afternoon). This small action will grow into a money saving and beautiful asset that will provide benefit for years to come.

Some shade on the lawn also makes hanging out in the backyard a lot more enjoyable during the hot summer months. Any nursery or home improvement store will have a variety of shade trees for cheap. The money and torture you save yourself from is well worth the small initial investment.

WAY 2: Fill the Sponge

As a lawn care professional, I've seen enough lawns to know a thing or two about irrigation. One thing I've discovered is that most people both under-water and over-water their lawns SIMULTANEOUSLY!

How is that possible, you ask? Well imagine that the soil that your lawn lives in as a sponge. Too many home owners get the crazy idea that multiple waterings for just a few minutes each time is the best method for irrigating their yard. But, in our sponge analogy, this just wet's the very surface of the sponge and not the whole thing.

Grass absorbs water from the soil through it's roots. The deeper the roots, the more soil the plant has to draw water from. Unfortunately, if water never reaches deeper than surface level, the roots have no incentive to grow deeply and so the plants themselves will only be surface level.

When you water only for brief periods, the surface gets wet but it also dries out very rapidly because it is in contact with the air and sun. Water that has penetrated deeper down into the soil/sponge will remain much longer or until used. When watering your lawn, imagine that your soil is like a sponge. The idea is to not just wet the top but to fill the whole thing up with water.

Knowing when your 'sponge' is filled is a simple matter of observation. Every lawn and spoil sponge is different so keep an eye on the lawn when you're watering it to see when it's been saturated but the water isn't running off into the street.

If you can completely fill the sponge, your lawn will have access to a greater water supply for longer. As a result, it will be able to go much longer between watering, it will hold up to the heat of summer much better, and will be healthier over all. 'Filling the Sponge' means you have to water for longer periods of time but also much less frequently. In the end, you will save money and have a happier lawn.

WAY 3: Edible Landscapes

What do you imagine when you think the Garden of Eden. When I imagine it, I think of walking through lush green grass (with no bugs of course), picking ripe fruit off a tree, a handful of berries off a nearby bush, and enjoying them in the cool shade.

This doesn't have to be a fantasy. Most people have a rigid model of landscape design that says edible plants go in garden boxes or in a garden row in the back corner while only hardy bushes and flowers go in beds. There is no reason that this paradigm has to exist in your yard.

Growing your own fruit, or even vegetables, can be fun and extremely rewarding (not to mention the delicious fruit). The good news is that you don't just have to plant them in an orchard, vinyard, or garden plot. You can actually intermingle them into your landscaping where they will both look beautiful and provide a bountiful harvest.

Try planting your favorite fruit tree instead of that ho hum tree you might have planted. Instead of boring bushes, plant blueberries or raspberries. Instead of a simple row of flowers, make every other plant a lettuce or rhubarb. Edible plants in you landscape is a great way to put your landscape to work for you and the best news is that it can be just as beautiful, or even more so, than your neighbor's boring yard.

WAY 4: Plant for the Senses

When a new home is constructed the landscaping that usually gets installed is flat and lifeless. It has no character or vibrancy. The result is a place that looks respectable but really more like a business than a place where life flourishes. Don't make your home look like an accounting office. You can be both bold and sensible.

There are so many different plants out there that have so much to offer your landscape. More than just a well trimmed hedge, your yard could be bursting with color and wafting with sweet aromas. It could be filled with the pleasant sounds of wildlife and a beautiful variety that adds life to the outside and inside of your home.

Add some aromatic plants to your landscape like lilac, mint, or honeysuckle. For bright flashes of color, just go to any nursery and pick out your favorite combinations but keep in mind that you want a whole season of color not just a few weeks. Make sure you select plants with a broad range of bloom times.

Birds, butterflies, bees, and other animals can make a lovely addition to the overall feel of your paradise. Plant nectar and pollen rich flowers to attract a wide variety of creatures but don't forget to provide water, shelter, and plants for butterflies to lay their young on. Consult a regional expert for specifics.

Designing your own backyard paradise can be a very enjoyable process. Select varieties that you can enjoy with all your senses to create a more rewarding space.

Landscapes don't have to be all work. They can give back. These tips will save you money and time as well as increase the amount you and your family enjoy spending time outside. Get out there and get more out of your landscape. I hope this has been informative and stimulating. Please leave your comments or questions.

Thanks for Reading!

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