Buying your first home is a huge step—and not just because you get to enjoy a lot more space and a lot more privacy. Most homes also come with a patch of land to call your own. Whether it’s a small yard in an urban space or huge expanses of acreage, this yard is now yours to enjoy…and to take care of.
Before you spend thousands of dollars on landscaping and lawn mowers, here’s a quick and easy to guide to everything you need to know as a first-time homeowner.
> Pay Attention to the Season: A yard that’s in the full bloom of spring might look great, only to turn dry and dusty come summer. Those beautiful shade trees that make sitting outdoors a delight could end up blocking all your natural light in the winter. Remember that no matter how a yard looks right now, the seasons will change what grows and how your yard looks. Don’t take any drastic measures to plant or remove the growth until you’ve determined how the temperature changes will affect the overall look of your yard.
> Hire a Specialist: One of your first steps as a homeowner should be to call in an arborist or other lawn care specialist to provide an overview of your situation. Beautiful old trees often harbor disease deep inside the trunk. Patchy bits of grass might just be underseeded…or they could be evidence of grubs. And if you live somewhere with moles, voles, and other pests, you may have a huge undertaking on your hands. You don’t have to hire a professional to do the yard upkeep, but a one-time diagnostic check will give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with.
> Maintenance is Everything: A little overgrowth can make a yard look charming, but a lot of overgrowth just looks neglected. Try to stay on top of your yard with regular upkeep that starts as early as the day you move in. Daily watering, bi-weekly mowing, weed pulling, and other tasks don’t have to take up a lot of time as long as you perform them regularly. If you have kids, now might be a good time to start up a chore routine that includes these tasks.
> Invest in Quality Equipment: You probably don’t need a riding lawn mower if you only have a quarter of an acre of land, but it is a good idea to have a lawn mower on hand. You might also need items like weed whackers, leaf blowers, trimmers, and other yard equipment. Some homeowners leave these things behind when they move, but chances are you’ll need to invest in your own. Although you might not love the idea of spending hundreds of dollars, this equipment is much like any other appliance in your home and is well worth it.
> Less is More: Until you get to know your landscape and how much work it really takes to keep it up, err on the side of simplicity. It’s much easier to go back in and add more landscaping later than it is to remove trees and bushes that have already taken root. Start simple and see how you like the look and upkeep as the plants mature…you can always build from there.
> Follow the Rules: Your yard care might not be totally up to you. If you live in a strict neighborhood or have an HOA, you may be required to adhere to a few rules regarding your plant life, home exterior, fencing, snow removal, and more. Know what the rules are in your area and follow them. Few things are worse than investing in a great new yard that you have to turn around and remove the following week.
If you’re still overwhelmed at the prospect of lawn care, you might also want to take a class from a gardening store or provider in your area. Not only will they know about general lawn tips, but they’ll also be able to tell you about plant life specific to your climate and region.