Selling Your Austin Home – Eight Lawn Care Tips
published on April 14, 2013
According to the National Association of Realtors, “Curb appeal sells 49 percent of all homes” and can improve a home’s value. Whether an Austin home is located in Shady Hollow or Rob Roy, one of the factors that can make or break a potential buyer’s first impression is the front yard, which is why lawn improvement tops the lists of home improvement investment projects that get the biggest “bang for your buck.” Here are eight great tips to increase a lawn’s curb appeal:
1. Mowing 101
Nothing says “neglected house” like an overgrown lawn. Most lawns are ready to be mowed when the grass reaches a height of 3 inches, although newly seeded areas or recently overseeded existing lawns should be mowed closer to 2 inches until the new grass is established. Try to mow with a frequency that allows you to cut less than one-third the height of the grass, and leave grass clippings on the lawn so nutrients and nitrogen are re-deposited into the soil. Don’t forget to change the mowing pattern periodically – grass develops a grain based on the direction it is cut, and alternating the pattern will result in an upright growth pattern.
2. Spring Cleaning
Take time to rake up any leaves, dead grass, branches and other yard debris. While raking, look over the lawn for trouble spots. Yellowing or dead areas resulting from pets, pests, and plant diseases may need special treatment. Also, notice if there is an excess of thatch (a build-up of plant materials between the top of the grass and the roots). If thatch is thicker than ½ inch, it can block out oxygen, water, and nutrients. It may be time to have the lawn dethatched.
3. Testing Soil Acidity
Winter can cause the pH levels in your soil to rise, which makes it difficult for most grasses to thrive. Most home improvement and garden stores sell inexpensive do-it-yourself soil pH tests. These tests are a valuable tool as you prepare your lawn for the summer. Simple soil amendments (such as lime or sulfur) can neutralize alkalinity or acidity and help grass thrive. To keep soil healthy, remember to fertilize both spring and fall. Avoid fertilizing in the summer or in times of drought, when grass is stressed.
4. When to Aerate?
Older or heavily-trafficked lawns often suffer from soil compaction, and should be aerated twice a year (spring and fall). By increasing oxygen in the soil, lawn aeration stimulates root growth and helps fertilizer reach grass roots. Lawn aeration can also increase the soil contact with seeds and improve the success rate of new growth. To find compacted soil, look for areas of lawn where the soil looks hard or where standing water doesn’t drain. If you can’t easily push a screwdriver into the soil, it’s compacted. Use a hand tool, a pair of spiked aerator shoes, or a mechanical aerator to break up compaction. Or, hire a professional to aerate the lawn for you.
5. Reseeding Grass
Spring offers optimal conditions for repairing or expanding existing lawn. It allows the grass to grow in healthy and strong before summer, when the yard will likely experience the heaviest use. Fill holes and low areas with quality topsoil before adding grass seeds. For best results, talk to a garden specialist, or consult with the local university extension office to select the right seed for your area and usage. After planting, water lightly but regularly to make sure the reseeded areas stay moist until the new grass grows in. Applying a starter fertilizer can help.
6. Winning the Weed War!
Maintaining a healthy, lush lawn is the best way to squeeze out weeds. However, if you experience problems with crabgrass or dandelions, regular weeding and herbicides will help. Talk to a local garden specialist about which tools and herbicides are right for your lawn and the proper way to use them. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring will reduce problems down the line. A word of caution: herbicides can also kill grass seeds, so choose a product that will protect new growth if you’ve applied seed. If a weed problem is severe, consult a professional.
7. Proper Hydration
It doesn’t matter if a home is in Belterra or Lakeway – nothing drains curb appeal like a dead or withered lawn. A lawn can require up to two inches of water a week to stay green during the summer, and a quarter as much in springtime. Watering is especially important before a freeze. To deeply nourish roots, give the lawn a slow watering about once a week in the early morning (to combat fungal diseases). Adjust for rainfall, soil conditions, and grass type. Check for any local watering restrictions. Hint: Watering the lawn irregularly, rather than on a strict schedule, replicates natural weather patterns and makes it more drought-tolerant!
8. “Do-it-Yourself” or “Keep it Simple”?
If you have the money and need to get your lawn looking its best in a hurry, it may be worth investing in a landscaping company that can both improve and maintain your yard to get it looking great, at least for the short term. However, don’t think you have to invest thousands of dollars into pre-sale lawn care. If you plan ahead of time and do it right, the soil and sun will do most of the work!
Looking to enhance the look of a home, or hoping to get top dollar when you sell? Whether you own a home in Seven Oaks or Westlake, don’t underestimate the curb appeal of a beautifully maintained lawn. Following these eight simple tips can make the difference between a bad first impression and a quick sale! No amount of decorative plantings can disguise struggling turf.
The REALTORS® at Regent Property Group believe in helping home-owners. They also help luxury home-buyers in Austin find exactly what they’re searching for!
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