Mowing the grass and watering at your rental properties can potentially consume a large part of your budget and resources. This is another example that, “Less is more.” Here are some smart ways to save time and money, increase your property values, and improve the return on your valuable real estate investments.
1. Reduce the size of the lawn. Consider reducing the total square footage of grass that must be maintained during the growing season. Depending on the area of the county where you manage rental properties, the lawn mowing season can extend from 6 months to year-round. By decreasing the size of the lawn you can save several hours of work — and expense — over the entire season on every property. Some ways to reduce lawn size:
Add a large bed filled with shrubs and top with gravel or mulch. Pick low-maintenance varieties suitable to your area. Avoid fast-growing or messy plants. Lay gravel or mulch over landscaping fabric to complete the job.
Hardscaping: Install a patio area. In addition to adding value to your property, it will reduce the lawn by that much more square footage. Economical and practical patio surfaces include concrete, large stone or brick pavers, and crushed stone.
2. . This landscaping technique is designed to save water and reduce damage to plants in the event of a drought. In some parts of the country where annual rainfall is scant, it is an absolute necessity. For others with more rain it is still an excellent way to plant a low-maintenance landscape that is also environmentally friendly.
It can be as simple as switching to a type of lawn grass that requires less water. But it usually involves replacing part of the lawn with beds of some of these types of plants:
Ornamental grasses: purple fountain grass, pampas grass, Mexican feather grass, blue oat grass, and others.
Succulents: hens and chicks, aloe vera, Autumn Joy sedum, many other sedums, and cacti in warmer zones.
Native wildflowers: check which thrive in your area.
3. Trim up the edges. Keep the lawn and the ground cover plants in their place. Create neat borders to help speed up the mowing. Also keep in mind the path that the mower must take and aim to make it flow as simply as possible. Avoid complicated bed shapes or spacing and erratic edging.
4. Plant appropriate ground covers. Again, seek out the ones that are appropriate for your area and that will not be invasive. Planting a compact, low-growing ground cover will accomplish three things: it will cut down on lawn maintenance, it will crowd out weeds, and will eliminate the need to spread mulch every year — saving you more time and money.
5. Pile on the mulch. Sometimes this is the simplest solution. Here are a few mulching options:
Bark mulch. This is the byproduct of tree trimming and is sold by the bag or scoop load. It can be colored and ranges in texture from fine to very coarse. The disadvantage to bark mulch is that it usually needs refreshed every year, adding expense.
Stone mulch. Very suitable for many types of plantings and areas of the country. The wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes of stone give you many affordable options. A big advantage of stones over bark mulch is they do not need replaced, so once they’re placed your work is finished.
Rubber mulch. Made from ground up tires and other rubber products, keeping some of these materials out of landfills. It does not decompose,is effective at keeping areas weed-free, and does not attract insects.
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