1. When it comes Spring, do you notice brown patches, even under the new growth of green grass? That means your lawn needs de-thatching, or a good, deep raking to lift out dead weeds and grasses from the previous season. Once that is done, you can encourage lush, new growth by using a rolling application cart to deliver both fertilizer and weedkiller to the lawn. Repeat fertilization in late Spring, and again in autumn.
2. Mowing is not just whacking down the grass and letting it lay there. You need to learn how to mow properly to keep it at its best and greenest. If you have a mulching mower, it will cut so that the grass is scattered in small bits, back onto the lawn, fertilizing as it goes. For regular mowers, purchase a bag attachment so that the clippings come off the lawn with you, or mow at a higher setting, and more often, so that you take off just the smallest amount, and it can remain on the lawn and not interfere with the growth.
3. If your yard has “bare” on thinly grassed spots due to shallow, dense tree roots, hard soil, or an excess of shade, there are a number of remedies to make it look more attractive. Providing there is sufficient soil, rake it up well, water, and scatter a variety of grass seed that is specifically for shaded areas, if that is the problem. For sunny areas, choose the appropriate seed. When there is not enough earth, invest in some topsoil, and seed after it is spread. Should you find that even properly cared for, the grass does not grow well, you might try some of the hardier ground cover plants from your local garden center.
4. For adding a little color to the yard, especially after the “blahs” of winter, try planting some flowering shrubs. From the brilliant yellows of Potentilla, and the reds and whites of Spirea, to the lavender of Forsythia, you’ll have all the pleasure of flowers, without the work of a garden.
5. Consider planting bushes that will develop berries that linger into the fall and winter. Not only will they provide color on the bare branches, chances are they will attract birds that your whole family can enjoy watching and identifying. Another tip for color in the colder season, is to choose varieties such as the Burning Bush, a deciduous plant that grows green through the summer, and turns flaming red in the Fall.
6. Have you got a fence that you need, but don’t really like to see? Try planting climbing plants along the length of it, including the annual Morning Glory, or floribunda roses. Clematis will also climb clothesline poles and turn them into a tower of beautiful blooms. Hide unsightly posts by planting a few low maintenance Canna Lilies. These summer bulbs and tubers grow plants up to 6′ high, with brightly colored blossoms. Unless you’re in zones 7-10, they’ll need to be taken up in the Fall.
7. Perennial gardens are well worth the work of the first year, and even the next Spring, in establishing them. If you take the time to research varieties and growing conditions, you can plant a bed with enough different flowers that you’ll have blooms throughout the whole season, and plants that come back every year.
8. For something different, try putting a pond in the backyard. This doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of excavation and twiddling with the ground. There are pond liners that will slip into the area you have dug out. If you’re planning on keeping fish, you’ll need a circulating pump, as well. Plant some water-loving greenery and flowers around the perimeter, and you’ll have a neighborhood conversation piece.
9. If you have chosen not to have flowerbeds, you can still add an element of distinction to your yard, with outdoor décor accessories. For pathways, choose from the highly decorative selections of stepping stones that mimic ancient Greek mosaics, Roman tablets, or which come with charming and whimsical characters or sayings. Add a Romanesque birdbath or water fountain in the center of the lawn. And for just a touch of color, Roman urns on either side of your front door/steps, planted with bright red geraniums.
10. House flags and garden flags are an excellent way to add color to your lawn and driveway. Adjustable brackets can be attached to the house, garage or fence posts, to hold a pole, and the larger house flags. Garden flags are hung from T or inverted U shaped frames, and look wonderful planted along a path. Celebrate special occasions, holidays and the changing of seasons, with inexpensive flags that can be used year after year.
You may also want to check out our article on enhancing your yard with raised bed gardening.