Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

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kjvmartin
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Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:23 am

Greetings,

I've successfully bought a modest house which will allow me to adequately fund my retirement. I've got a new project - "My Lawn"

This is a bit daunting to me, as I've been an apartment dweller. The house is only 1000 square feet and the lot is 1/2 acre. It's in a great neighborhood. There's trees, but it's mostly just a lot of grass. Well.... it's a lot of grass, dirt, clover, and other assorted weeds at the moment. My new neighbor politely spoke to me about the state of the lawn before I even closed on the house. The area is well-kept, and his lawn looks like a ball-park.

What on earth do I do?

As a novice, I'm looking at two options. I'm leaning toward hiring a lawn company for around $35 a week while handling my own fertilizing/weed removal. I'm in a state with 4 seasons, so the cutting would be spring-fall. Another option is going all in for $2000-3000 worth of lawn equipment (riding mower, trimmer, blower etc). I'm not as scared of the up front costs of the equipment as I am about maintaining it properly to ensure optimal benefit. I'd go with consumer reports best buys for my equipment, and the house does have a detached garage for storage. Considering fuel, oil, maintenance, etc, is it worth it to buy all of the equipment, or should I hire this out?

Any ideas?

Mike

livesoft
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by livesoft » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:29 am

Ask your neighbor for help. Let it be his project.

I do my own lawn work. My equipment is a leaf rake, a hose, cheap fertilizer spreader, and a cheap lawnmower. Maybe $300 for everything if bought new and $60 total at a garage sale.
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kjvmartin
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:34 am

livesoft wrote:Ask your neighbor for help. Let it be his project.
:D

I'm not sure that's what he was going for. What size lot are you on?

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BolderBoy
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by BolderBoy » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:36 am

kjvmike wrote:I'd go with consumer reports best buys for my equipment, and the house does have a detached garage for storage. Considering fuel, oil, maintenance, etc, is it worth it to buy all of the equipment, or should I hire this out?
Personally, I loathe yard work and only have a 0.2 acre yard. So I hire mine out except that I do my own fertilizing (Weed&Feed in April, feed on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day) and sprinkler maintenance. Maintaining the equipment to cut, clip, blow, etc, is not my cup.

miles monroe
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by miles monroe » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:37 am

i think your biggest problem is going to be a nosy neighbor, not your yard. good luck. i had one of those for about 10 years until he moved.

most economical? gasoline walk behind mower $300. blower $100. string trimmer $100. fertilizer spreader and hose $100. use ethanol free gas. there are websites you can google that will give you locations close to you. ethanol is death to small gas engines.

Gropes & Ray
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Gropes & Ray » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:46 am

First, don't let your neighbor get to you. I have many neighbors, and everyone one of them has an unending list of projects for me to do to my house, but they never offer any money or effort (except for one who gives me plants from her garden). Your neighbor will always have something else he wants you to do, so there is no point in speeding through each "assignment."

Next, you need to decide how much time/effort you want to put into mowing. I think you're better off doing it yourself unless you're the busiest man on earth. As far as fertilizing and/or spreading herbicides, that's so easy to do that there is no reason to hire it out.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:47 am

Why in the world do you need a riding mower for half an acre? A good self propelled push mower from a top name can be easily found for $350. While at the store, get a $25 spreader and a bag of the present treatment and spread that on the lawn.

And if the neighbor doesn't like how the lawn looks, tell him you're an apartment person, but you are willing to let the neighbor fix the lawn at his own expense.
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Greentree » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:55 am

I once had a neighbor ask me to cut down this awesome big tree in our yard, I just laughed and said that I loved that tree. He moved two years later. I would have been so upset if I had listened and then he moved. People can be ridiculous with their advice.

This is not for the perfectly manicured lawn, but you might consider adding clover seed to the grass if you are doing it on your own. It feeds nitrogen to the grass, stays green and doesn't grow as fast. They used to add it to grass seed before the absolutely no weeds killer stuff.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:58 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:Why in the world do you need a riding mower for half an acre? A good self propelled push mower from a top name can be easily found for $350. While at the store, get a $25 spreader and a bag of the present treatment and spread that on the lawn.
Ha. Thanks! 8-) This was part of my confusion - most publications I've read put the cutoff at justifying a riding lawn mower at 0.5 acres. Mine surveyed out to .48, so I was just trying to make the best use of my time/money. I'll spend more time researching self-propelled mowers.

Any recommendations on a brand? CR seems to like Honda.

Mike
Last edited by kjvmartin on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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whatusername?
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by whatusername? » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:58 am

A half-acre meadow sounds fantastic, especially if you're not keen on mowing everything. Depending on the terrain, a half an acre can be a lot, especially with only a small house on the lot.

Having a service care for your lawn is easy, but I prefer to mow myself. Buy a good lawnmower and cheap everything else if you go that route. You might also look at using up some of the lawn space with groundcover plantings that don't require mowing or much maintenance.

If you're in an area that grows cold-weather grasses, you might talk to your county extension office about what you could do to work out the weeds and clover. I don't know if overseeding would help, but I bet they would.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:04 am

whatusername? wrote:A half-acre meadow sounds fantastic, especially if you're not keen on mowing everything. Depending on the terrain, a half an acre can be a lot, especially with only a small house on the lot.
It's a minuscule front yard, very narrow lot - 210 feet long and only 50 feet wide. Your plan sounds, great, but I'm worried the city may have requirements for lawns to be cut. The majority of the yard is a wide open field behind the garage. It's hard to tell where the property line is back there, as 3 houses essentially have the same setup and no fences. I can't see ever using the field back there for anything, and we intend to privacy fence off the front portion of the back yard with an access gate to the rear area.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by bigred77 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:07 am

I preface this by saying I HATE yardwork. I can't stand it and am willing to pay a reasonable fee to have others do it for me. You (like many others) may feel differently.

I would negotiate with the lawn care company and see if they can come every other week for the 6 months out of the year that the lawn needs maintenance. I would want my service to include mowing, edging, shrub trimming, and weed removal. 2 weeks in between mowing/trimming isn't too bad unless you want an always immaculate yard (others may disagree).

Negotiate fertilization, tree trimming, mulching, new plants, etc. separately on an as needed basis (maybe once or twice a year)and get on with your life.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by itstoomuch » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:08 am

Build a softball/soccer field. Do Not Plant edibles either fruiting trees of vegetables.
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by wfrobinette » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:10 am

kjvmike wrote:Greetings,

I've successfully bought a modest house which will allow me to adequately fund my retirement. I've got a new project - "My Lawn"

This is a bit daunting to me, as I've been an apartment dweller. The house is only 1000 square feet and the lot is 1/2 acre. It's in a great neighborhood. There's trees, but it's mostly just a lot of grass. Well.... it's a lot of grass, dirt, clover, and other assorted weeds at the moment. My new neighbor politely spoke to me about the state of the lawn before I even closed on the house. The area is well-kept, and his lawn looks like a ball-park.

What on earth do I do?

As a novice, I'm looking at two options. I'm leaning toward hiring a lawn company for around $35 a week while handling my own fertilizing/weed removal. I'm in a state with 4 seasons, so the cutting would be spring-fall. Another option is going all in for $2000-3000 worth of lawn equipment (riding mower, trimmer, blower etc). I'm not as scared of the up front costs of the equipment as I am about maintaining it properly to ensure optimal benefit. I'd go with consumer reports best buys for my equipment, and the house does have a detached garage for storage. Considering fuel, oil, maintenance, etc, is it worth it to buy all of the equipment, or should I hire this out?

Any ideas?

Mike
1/2 acre is fairly big and $35 is a great price. My neighbor pays that for 1/4 acre. I average about 32 mowing a year in east central PA. so you're looking at 900 - 1100 a year to hire this out.

If you want to do it yourself buy a decent self propelled mower(i like Toro or Honda) and good gas trimmer (I prefer Stihl as my entry level one is 10 years old and have done zero maintenance and starts on 2 to 3 pull.) and plan on 2 hours to mow.

A rider or large walk behind will certainly cut the time dramatically and if you buy a zero turn you may not even need the push mower but will still need the trimmer. How big of an area do you need to blow off clippings? if it's a small drive way and sidewalk. I would just use a broom at first and then decide if you need more. But it will come in handy for leaf collection.

Do not start at a big box store. Go to a small equipment dealer to get the real facts then price at big box then buy from the dealer because they will servicing what ever you buy. They also may have some used inventory and decent discounts. The thing about mowers are the engines can last a long time if you change the oil and keep the blade balanced. Rebuilds aren't that expensive either.

You have to stay on top of cutting or you'll be bagging. I have to mow about every 4 to 5 days max.
Do not bag your grass

1. You're not going to get much progress this summer and it will take 2 to 3 years to get this thing right.
2. Get a fertilizer spread and dump some weed and feed per instructions. Buy some grass safe weed killer and spot treat rest of season. Clover is a pain and they sell different chem's to get rid of it.
3. Hire out the mowing for now so the lawn doesn't get too bad. Then buy your own stuff.
4. Come fall(August) make sure the weeds are gone
5. September either hire someone or rent a aerator (at 1/2 acre, I'd hire it out) You might be able to buy one to pull behind rider because you're going to be doing this at least 1 to twice per year.
6. heavy overseed the entire lawn. Buy good grass seed (1/2 acre is going to use 50+ pounds) Pay attention the the label on the seed bag. it should contain 0 to almost 0 weed seed.
7. You may have to water for the first 7 to 10 days if there is little rain. I've had great luck with scotts lawn starter fertilizer
8. Do a fall(late October) feed per fertilizer bag.
9. You may consider a spring overseed and areation again.
10. Year 2 follow the scotts program. Do not forget the crab grass preventer.
11. Mow as needed and repeat an overseed and aeration in the fall.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by wfrobinette » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:12 am

kjvmike wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Why in the world do you need a riding mower for half an acre? A good self propelled push mower from a top name can be easily found for $350. While at the store, get a $25 spreader and a bag of the present treatment and spread that on the lawn.
Ha. Thanks! 8-) This was part of my confusion - most publications I've read put the cutoff at justifying a riding lawn mower at 0.5 acres. Mine surveyed out to .48, so I was just trying to make the best use of my time/money. I'll spend more time researching self-propelled mowers.

Any recommendations on a brand? CR seems to like Honda.

Mike
I love my Honda HRX with a non metal(nexrite) deck.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by jbird11 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:16 am

You can pick up a nice, used rider for around $1000. I found a very well-maintained Craftsman rider for $900 last year, and then I bought some attachments from Sears to make things easier. The pull-behind spreader was like $100. The pull-behind thatcher/aerator was $100. Heck, you could get the snow-blower or plow attachments too if you really wanted.

The fertilizer-- I just get the 4 (or 5) step process from Home Depot/Lowes and do it myself. Costs about $100/year for the steps.

I have about .97 acre lot... I enjoy getting out there and doing it myself. Could easily save some money as others have said with the $300 push mower and $25 spreader... but the time savings of the rider setup let me spend more time with my family... so I took the trade-off.

Some smart watering, and letting the lawn get a little longer in the summer.... mulching rather than bagging... there's a lot of tips and tricks you can learn without spending the money for the professional services to come out and do it.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by nordsteve » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:17 am

You can widely vary the amount of effort you put in to your lawn. Decide what you want out of the lawn, and don't let neighbor pressure force you to do more.

wfrobinette's post is a good program if you're looking for a nice lawn. If your target is more "doesn't stand out as a bad lawn", here's a list:

1. mowed weekly using mulcher. sharpen blade annually
2. spray for weeds twice a year, once in spring just as dandelions start, and once in the late summer/early fall when it cools off. Don't worry about clover.
3. fertilize -- if you do it once, do it in late summer/early fall
4. watering -- best to start out with "as needed." For large areas, use either an impulse sprinkler with a tripod or a traveling sprinkler. Buy a cheap mechanical timer to shut it off automatically. Run an experiment to determine the inches per hour it puts out, so that you can set the timer to the correct time.

Hit a couple estate sales to get all of the lawn maintenance tools you'll ever want for cheap.

Honda mower is nice but expensive. The local small engine shop will have decent used mowers for $100+- that work fine and will last you several years. The last mower I had (Briggs engine) lasted 20 years.

You will also want a string trimmer. If you're not used to maintaining 2 cycle engines, I'd recommend an electric one. If you go battery operated be ready to buy new batteries every 2-3 years.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Coyote » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:20 am

kjvmike wrote: It's a minuscule front yard, very narrow lot - 210 feet long and only 50 feet wide.

An acre is 43,560 sqaure feet ( aprox 210 ft x 205 ft+/-) -- this sounds like 1/4 acre??

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by greg24 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:27 am

I have a 0.42 acre lawn. I mow it myself with a push mower, not self-propelled. If I'm going to mow, I may as well get exercise, I wouldn't buy a rider unless absolutely necessary.

I buy mowers in the $200 to $250 range. Fertilize myself two or three times a year. Trim a few times a year. My lawn is in pretty darn good shape, better than most.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by whatusername? » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:29 am

wfrobinette wrote:
kjvmike wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Why in the world do you need a riding mower for half an acre? A good self propelled push mower from a top name can be easily found for $350. While at the store, get a $25 spreader and a bag of the present treatment and spread that on the lawn.
Ha. Thanks! 8-) This was part of my confusion - most publications I've read put the cutoff at justifying a riding lawn mower at 0.5 acres. Mine surveyed out to .48, so I was just trying to make the best use of my time/money. I'll spend more time researching self-propelled mowers.

Any recommendations on a brand? CR seems to like Honda.

Mike
I love my Honda HRX with a non metal(nexrite) deck.
I have a 25-year-old Honda pro-grade self propelled mower that had been a rock for many years. CR is right to like it. It wasn't cheap when new, but was well worth it.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by NightFall » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:32 am

If you buy a push lawnmower, go with a mulching one. It's better for the grass unless you have lots of weeds, and those other options (bagging, side discharge) never get used. Also rear wheel propelled is much better than front wheel. I've had both. Front wheel is more like push assistance than self propelled. I like my Toro.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by easye418 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:33 am

I have a .13 acre piddle yard, but a really ****ty mower. Yard man, Honda engine, crap build. The good news is that I live in Dallas so my grass should go dormant pretty soon, so no cutting needed.

It takes me around an hour to cut, bag, trim, and blow. My lawn service would run me $25 bucks a week. My time is WAY more valuable than $25 an hour, but I slightly enjoy it because its get you away from reality for a bit and I would rather have a case of beer instead of my hour at this moment.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by likegarden » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:39 am

People who buy a riding mower for half an acre or have lawn service probably have too much money. Lawn work is the easiest part of house maintenance and free money to pick up. I do all my yard work myself, am 75 years old, and love that exercise. I agree with livesoft, all you need is a push mower or cheap self propelled mower. You do not need a blower and a trimmer. I first run the mower with the grass catcher mounted around the periphery, so no clippings will be on road, walkways and drive way. Then I walk behind mowing without the catcher. I also have around 1/2 acre. I trim spots with a sharpened spade. I like a well defined lawn, that is I clean grass and weeds out under bushes, that makes mowing easier.

First you have to do is spray the weeds and rake grass seeds into the bare spots, watering those new grass seeds for a while every day. I buy Vigoro fertilizer at big box stores. After taking care of weeds the first time, all you need then spray new ones with a spray bottle, there will be few. I spend around $130 per year on my lawn. My (Toro) lawn mower is probably 15 years old and is mulching. I rake leaves and debris with a rake. We have to collect all yard waste in large paper bags and put those at the curb for pickup, a blower would not help there.
Lawn mower maintenance I do in fall or spring, together with snow blower maintenance. During the first time write down all details of sharpening the blade and making the oil and air filter change, and it will be easy next time.

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sam5
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by sam5 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:02 pm

Plant a vegetable garden in part of your yard. Start small, perhaps a few tomato plants, lettuce, and cucumbers. If you find that you enjoy eating garden fresh produce, you can expand the garden in future years.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by feh » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:14 pm

livesoft wrote:Ask your neighbor for help. Let it be his project.
+1

Just because the neighbor desires a manicured yard doesn't mean you need to jump through hoops to do the same.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by btenny » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:31 pm

I know you did not ask this but have you thought about converting most or all of this "lawn" to Xeriscape. They are low water, low maintenance and nice looking. If you do some conversion of this lawn to native pants and stuff like hard scape and ground covers you will not have to do much yard work at all. Many xeriscape yards are designed to never mow or need any significant maintenance.

See here. http://eartheasy.com/grow_xeriscape.htm
https://www.google.com/search?q=xerisca ... Q&dpr=1.25

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Gropes & Ray » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:42 pm

I turned significant portion of my lawn into a meadow. It is full of beautiful flowers and bees and butterflies. There are some weeds in it, but they are manageable with a small amount of effort. I started it with two bags of wildflower seeds from my local big box store. They cost about $15 total. In the late fall I mow it. In the spring I rake the ground and spread one fresh bag of seeds. Do not water it after the seeds germinate! You'll just encourage weeds. $7 yearly maintenance cost and maybe an hour of yearly effort.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by JohnFiscal » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:43 pm

For a lawn that's "gone" over to weeds, etc, as much as this apparently has, I think I would go for a commercial service for fertilizing/weed control.

Then I'd get back that outsourcing by mowing myself. I'd get a good self-propelled mower, not a riding mower. And an Echo brand trimmer and edger (you can get the "SRM" series that has attachments for string trimmer, edger, hedge clippers, etc), and an Echo blower. My equipment is going on 13 years of service now and going strong. I rather enjoy mowing, etc, and think I do a better job than the commercial guys ...who do most of the lawns in my subdivision, very few people here mow their own lawns.

Here (Florida) the bugs and diseases are so bad that I continue with the commercial fertilizing/weed control just as insurance against a catastrophic lawn loss (which has happened), which the HOA frowns upon.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:09 pm

When we did our major landscaping redo some years ago, we did a lot of hardscaping and also put in indigenous trees and shrubs. I had no intention of playing golf on the property, so I requested a hardy grass that didn't require much water; at the time the landscaping company called it "ecology grass."

Xeriscape might have been tempting, but I wanted a place where dogs could run. A year ago, we adopted a pit bull. This year our landscaper asked if we wanted him to seed the bare spots, since it wouldn't last long. Our neighbors leave us alone regarding our yard, which obviously has been thought about but is very different to their golf course-like expanses of verdant and watered excess, but if they bothered me, I'd suggest that they complain to the pit bull that they don't like her play area.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by livesoft » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:28 pm

kjvmike wrote:I'm not sure that's what he was going for. What size lot are you on?
Our lot is about 12K sq ft or 0.27 acre, but a significant part of that is not grass. On that lot is a house with detached 2-car garage and workshop, shrubs around the foundation, a driveway, a patio, and "beds" containing indigenous trees and plants. The grass area is probably only 5,000 sq ft. A self-propelled walk-behind mower cuts the grass in about 20 minutes

I was serious about consulting with your neighbor. They obviously have got your climate figured out, so you should really try to do what they have done at least as far as a lawn and grass are concerned. You will do much worse following the advice of folks in this thread because we have no idea where you live, but your neighbor knows where you live.
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by GoldenFinch » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:29 pm

NightFall wrote:If you buy a push lawnmower, go with a mulching one. It's better for the grass unless you have lots of weeds, and those other options (bagging, side discharge) never get used. Also rear wheel propelled is much better than front wheel. I've had both. Front wheel is more like push assistance than self propelled. I like my Toro.
I agree! Mulching mowers are great.

To the OP unless you absolutely hate yard work or are too busy, get a mulching mower and get the exercise.

You could hire the landscaping company just to get the yard cleaned up and then when it's in good shape and the weeds are under control mow it yourself.

Good luck! It's probably nice to have your own yard after living in an apartment.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Andyrunner » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:30 pm

Sometimes I just want to install turf. No more lawn mowing and green grass all year around.

I'd say buy the equipment. Most of the stuff you can get on craigslist in good condition. You can put a small amount of effort into a lawn and have a nice enough lawn or you can put tons of effort into a lawn and make it look like a golf course. I never understood the latter. I have a neighbor who waters his lawn nightly, even when its raining.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by dratkinson » Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:58 pm

I tried many different mowers (reel-type, corded electric, ICE self-propelled, lawn tractors) before finding what best suited me. (I eventually settled on a used Snapper convertible mower with a disk transmission, bought off CL for $150.)

Rent before you buy. Suggest you try renting different mowers to see what fits your needs. It will be cheaper in the long run if you buy in the beginning exactly what fits your needs.

Wheel marks. All small mowers (Honda, Toro, Snapper,...) seem to leave wheel marks (grass remains pressed down when run over by mower), but most cut the grass evenly. If you want the velvet lawn look---no wheel marks after mowing---then you'll need a wide high-vacuum deck and broad low-pressure turf tires: meaning a commercial grade mower, or a lawn service that uses them.

Convertible mower. Some mowers are made to be convertible (mulch, bag, broadcast). This is a handy feature.

Mower transmission. Snapper makes a mower with an external-disk transmission that is easy/cheap to repair. This is an issue because the cost to repair/replace a lawn mower internal-gear transmission can be almost the cost of a new mower.

Natural butterfly garden. See if your way-back backyard can be converted into a natural butterfly garden and left to take care of itself. Problem solved.


These folks seem to be lawn care zealots, lots of good ideas, but may be hard to compete with: http://aroundtheyard.com/

If you like your neighbor's yard, can ask him how he did it.

If you don't like yard work, give your front yard curb appeal and just cut your hidden back yard weeds flat.

One of my neighbors cuts his lawn natural (solid weeds, no grass) adjacent to mine, so weeds reappearing in my lawn are a constant battle. I'd rather have your neighbor.

Maybe your neighbor is hoping that you will help him with his migrating weed problem by at least killing off the weeds in your yard.
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YttriumNitrate
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by YttriumNitrate » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:05 pm

Before deciding on what equipment and/or lawn service to buy/use, you should really decide what you want your yard to look like. If you're going for a perfectly manicured lawn that is cut several times a week, a riding mower might be a good idea. If you don't mind a shaggy lawn from time to time, then a garage sale self-propelled mower would be more economical.

I'm staunchly in the shaggy camp and gauge when it's time to mow by my neighbor cutting his lawn three times since my last mow.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by livesoft » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:44 pm

YttriumNitrate wrote:If you're going for a perfectly manicured lawn that is cut several times a week, a riding mower might be a good idea. If you don't mind a shaggy lawn from time to time, then a garage sale self-propelled mower would be more economical.
I have never ever in my life seen a home lawn mowed several times a week. I can see a every 5-day on a fast-growing grass for a few weeks in the growing season, but in general I would say most home lawns are not mowed more than once a week.

So if one is thinking about "is cut several times a week", then I suggest they spend the money on a psychiatrist instead.
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alec
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by alec » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:30 pm

livesoft wrote:
kjvmike wrote:I'm not sure that's what he was going for. What size lot are you on?
Our lot is about 12K sq ft or 0.27 acre, but a significant part of that is not grass. On that lot is a house with detached 2-car garage and workshop, shrubs around the foundation, a driveway, a patio, and "beds" containing indigenous trees and plants. The grass area is probably only 5,000 sq ft. A self-propelled walk-behind mower cuts the grass in about 20 minutes

I was serious about consulting with your neighbor. They obviously have got your climate figured out, so you should really try to do what they have done at least as far as a lawn and grass are concerned. You will do much worse following the advice of folks in this thread because we have no idea where you live, but your neighbor knows where you live.
Sage advice. I had a few beers with my retired neighbor, and he gave me the info on what works in our area... and, yes, the beer was provided by him. :sharebeer he also gives me all the good gossip. :twisted:
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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:32 pm

If you are looking for the "most economical way to handle the lawn" as stated in your subject title, you are setting yourself up for problems with your neighbor whose "lawn looks like a ballpark". I suggest a bit of a compromise. Remember, his "ballpark" probably adds value to your property. I say this because I have the opposite problem. My redneck neighbors allow their 3 dogs to crap at will in their backyard, and it don't look like no ballpark.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by edge » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:07 pm

I live in a neighborhood (dc metro) where the landscapes look picture perfect and most people have full service yard maintenance (not just mowing/trimming/fert/aeration/overseeding but also leaf removal, mulching as needed, new seasonal flowers, etc etc etc). No one requires or gets more than 1 mow per week except in the fastest growing cycle of the spring where it is closer to 5-6 days.

You don't want to cut your grass too short anyway.
livesoft wrote:
YttriumNitrate wrote:If you're going for a perfectly manicured lawn that is cut several times a week, a riding mower might be a good idea. If you don't mind a shaggy lawn from time to time, then a garage sale self-propelled mower would be more economical.
I have never ever in my life seen a home lawn mowed several times a week. I can see a every 5-day on a fast-growing grass for a few weeks in the growing season, but in general I would say most home lawns are not mowed more than once a week.

So if one is thinking about "is cut several times a week", then I suggest they spend the money on a psychiatrist instead.

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Watty
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Watty » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:32 pm

livesoft wrote:I was serious about consulting with your neighbor. They obviously have got your climate figured out, so you should really try to do what they have done at least as far as a lawn and grass are concerned. You will do much worse following the advice of folks in this thread because we have no idea where you live, but your neighbor knows where you live.
+1

Also check with your other neighbors who might be a bit less obsessive.

It depends on your climate but some people like to keep their grass really short which can make the yard hard to maintain. Here in the south I have found that setting my lawn mower as high as it goes makes the lawn a lot more tolerant of going a few extra days. When you mow the grass you don't want to cut off more than a third of it so if your grass is very short it has to me mowed more often.

I have found the that Costco has good fertilizer at a good price.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:37 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (lawn).
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backpacker
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by backpacker » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:46 pm

kjvmike wrote: The house is only 1000 square feet and the lot is 1/2 acre. It's in a great neighborhood. There's trees, but it's mostly just a lot of grass. Well.... it's a lot of grass, dirt, clover, and other assorted weeds at the moment. My new neighbor politely spoke to me about the state of the lawn before I even closed on the house. The area is well-kept, and his lawn looks like a ball-park.

What on earth do I do?
One word. Goats. :D

livesoft
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by livesoft » Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:28 pm

backpacker wrote:One word. Goats. :D
Yes, goats on the neighbor's yard would be phenomenal solution.
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greenfire
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by greenfire » Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:36 pm

We live on 100 acres, and my husband has decided to make former meadows and hay fields into lawns. He has a john deere tractor with a riding deck. He probably mows about 5 acres a week, and another 10 acres once or twice a season. (I myself cultivate about a half-acre of vegetable, flower and fruit gardens.) We have beautiful lawns that look like emerald carpets. No fertilizer or any chemical whatsoever - ever - for the last 37 years. Leaving the clippings is all the fertilizer we ever need. Today I saw 6 different kinds of butterflies. And lots of native bees, but alas no honeybees. You don't need to do all that crap to lawns. Less is more. (There was one area that was all goldenrod. Tall, thick stems. Mowing was all he did. Didn't remove the goldenrod. Didn't add seed. The native grasses just naturally filled in.)

pinebarrens1
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by pinebarrens1 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:03 pm

I always like Caesar the dog whisperer's compound. It's all asphalt with some potted plants here and there. The ultimate no maintenance yard...

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kjvmartin
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by kjvmartin » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:12 pm

Lots of good advice. A coworker said to another coworker "I put a lot of money into my lawn, but I can't get it to look good."

"Oh.. you should try fertilizer instead of money." lol.

I have high hopes for the front yard and the back yard nearest the house. I'll do the best I can. I do have pride of ownership and I want to take care of what I've been blessed with.

For the far back yard/tree area, I just need it minimally managed/cut. No one goes to or looks at that part of the world. My wife's dream is to privacy fence in the closer part of the yard for kids/play/entertaining with a further attached fenced area she could turn into a "secret garden" style area. Paths, benches, shrubs, flowers, etc. A lawn with two compartments, all privacy fenced.

glock19
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by glock19 » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:25 pm

Wow, I've never seen so many complicated answers to just mowing a lawn. Get a self propelled lawnmower and a trimmer and just go to work. It ain't professional landscaping. You really don't need any long range plans, just a can of gas, some safety glasses and some foam ear plugs. Enjoy working in your new yard and get a little exercise along the way.

If you want to save some money get good equipment like a Honda mower, and Echo or Stihl weedeater. Learn to do the simple maintenance, take care of them and they will last you forever. OR if you just want to try it, then go to a big box store and get cheaper equipment that will be fine.

You will enjoy standing back and looking at your property and your good work even if it isn't a "manicured" lawn. It just is NOT that complicated, and certainly don't worry about what your neighbor thinks about it.

Have fun!

Freddy
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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by Freddy » Wed Jun 24, 2015 9:47 pm

wfrobinette wrote:
kjvmike wrote:
Jack FFR1846 wrote:Why in the world do you need a riding mower for half an acre? A good self propelled push mower from a top name can be easily found for $350. While at the store, get a $25 spreader and a bag of the present treatment and spread that on the lawn.
Ha. Thanks! 8-) This was part of my confusion - most publications I've read put the cutoff at justifying a riding lawn mower at 0.5 acres. Mine surveyed out to .48, so I was just trying to make the best use of my time/money. I'll spend more time researching self-propelled mowers.

Any recommendations on a brand? CR seems to like Honda.

Mike
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We love ours too. Change the blade once a year along with the oil, air filter and spark plug and it'll run forever.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by davebo » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:43 pm

I have a 1/2 acre lot as well so I feel your joy/pain. My old house was simple...push behind mower, no string trimmer needed, and I'm done in 30 minutes.

For my current home, I could get the grass cut weekly for $30. When I figured in the total cost from April to Oct (per the contract) it was a little too much for me to stomach. I could probably get it cut every other week, but I'm sure the price would've gone up.

I disagree with the poster that said it could be easily handled with a walk-behind mower. You COULD do that, but it would just take you forever. Personally, my tools of choice are a riding mower (entry-level John Deere 100 series), a string trimmer (stihl), and a leaf blower/shredder. I also have added a hedge trimmer and a tree saw, but those could probably come later if you need them.

The necessities earlier on would be the riding mower and the string trimmer with a leaf blower to follow. I like the leaf blower so you can get all the leaves out of the mulch areas and the shredding feature so you can suck them up in places where the leaves gather (porch, against house, etc. Leaf blower could also be used for cleaning out the gutters.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by HurdyGurdy » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:00 am

Consider a low maintenance ground cover.

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Re: Most Economical Way to Handle the Lawn

Post by LeeMKE » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:06 am

TRUE STORY:
I built a house with a partner. I'd usually hired someone to take care of mowing, but he objected. We bought all the gear, and then every week he would moan and complain about mowing and edging until I finally insisted we spend the money for someone else to take care of the lawn. Put all the gear at the curb with prices and sold it to others contemplating the same.

I like taking care of the beds, and as long as someone else is covering the mowing, I like the yard work. And ditto on reducing the amount of ground in lawn.
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