June 14, 2017

How New Homeowners Can Keep Lawns and Wallets Green

Are we experts in lawn maintenance? No. However, as one of the largest guarantors of single–family loans in the country, we do know a thing or two about home values.

Grass, dirt, bushes and trees can account for 10 percent or more of the price of your home, probably the most expensive thing you will buy in your lifetime. And if you are considering selling (and it's certainly a seller's market in most parts of the country right now) good landscape design can add up to 20 percent of the value to your home according to Bob Villa. That's why smart landscaping and lawn care are essential to protecting your property's value.

And you know who else cares about your lawn? Your neighbors. In fact, studies have shown that taking your landscaping from "good" to "great" can add 6 percent to 7 percent to a home's value. On the flip-side, you don't want to be accused of external obsolescence - where external factors have an effect on a home's value, factors that can cause a decrease.

If you're a first–time homebuyer, and you don't have a green thumb, here are a few tips to help you through your first green growing season.

  1. Identify the grass. Grasses vary by region, climate and soil conditions. Take a sample of your lawn to a local gardening center or landscaper. They should be able to identify the variety and what seeds to use to cover bare spots and strengthen your turf.
  2. Don't cut too short. Otherwise you can damage your lawn's ability to absorb sunlight and maintain healthy root systems. If you aren't sure about the proper height, consider asking the pros at your local nursery.
  3. Don't overwater. Daily watering can be hard on your pocketbook and your lawn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture generally recommends water thoroughly (down to root level) about once every 4 to 8 days. USDA adds that overwatering can damage grass roots and promote weed growth and cautions that lawns can account for about half the water homeowners use.
  4. Fertilize in stages. Doing one big fertilizer application in the spring could damage (burn) your lawn and send fertilized runoff into the local water supply. USDA suggests splitting applications into two or more applications per growing season. (Bonus: well fertilized lawns tend to need less water.)
  5. Do your homework on pesticides. Experts say many lawn problems are more likley to be caused by waterlogging, lawn mower damage or extreme weather than pests. Also, most weeds and pests can be removed by hand. USDA says you should do your homework to 1) verify the problem is pest related, 2) find the least toxic products and 3) learn how to apply them safely (or hire an expert) to protect your yard as well as the children, pets or guests who might like to walk barefoot in the grass.