Aha! Guide to Gardening

How to Save on Yard Care

It takes a lot of green to maintain a lawn. Follow these tips to spruce up your turf for less.

By Amy Chen
Croquet wickets and a garden hoseBeatriz Da Costa

Service your mower (no procrastinating!). Putting off that annual tune-up, typically priced at $60 to $100, can cost you big. Repairing a neglected machine can run two or three times that amount, says Ed Cole, a spokesman for Toro.

Help your plants thrive. If you are over- or underfertilizing, the costly flora you buy may not live to see the fall. Have a local extension agent test your soil’s nutrient content so you can learn the specific needs of your shrubs and flowering plants. (Find an agent at csrees.usda.gov/Extension; a test can cost up to $20.)

Turn off your automatic sprinkler system. In-ground systems use about 50 percent more water unnecessarily, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So opt for watering your yard with a soaker hose. Or attach a sprinkler to a hose when your plants need a drink.

Stick with concentrated weed killer. It only looks pricier: Roundup concentrate costs less than $4 a gallon once you add water, versus more than $23 a gallon for the ready-to-use kind.

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