There were many reasons I loved living in a city.
I loved the constant energy; the seemingly countless restaurants and bars; the long, lazy brunches; the pockets of culture like museums and historical sites; the skyscrapers and alleyways; knowing the hidden places that felt like secrets and the corner food cart that served the best breakfast after a long night.
Perhaps most of all, there was no yard work that needed to be done. I had grown up on four acres and my father, born and raised in the city, became like a farmer on the weekends. I’d help him not only cut grass and weed whack, but also with rototilling, stump pulling, tree cutting, and rock moving.
Of course, much like both of our parents did a generation before us, we decided that a growing family meant needing some more room — and more quiet. After months of searching and touring homes in the competitive and expensive (and crowded!) area of northern New Jersey, we found the perfect one. It wasn’t perfect — it is a century old so there were issues that needed to be addressed and upkeep that needed to be done — but the backyard was nearly flawless. It designed and beautifully landscaped, hidden away behind the house and some fencing so that it’s a surprise to people when they first see it. It’s not much compared to the rest of the country, but in North Jersey, it’s like a tiny utopia, something that was invaluable in the spring of 2020.
Of course, such a yard needs constant love and attention, something I was not always able to provide — and the results bore that out.
However, after hiring and learning from professionals, I have the tools and items that help to keep its luster every year.
The most difficult aspect of getting your grass (and plants) to thrive and look great is having to constantly deal with weeds, both in the flowerbeds and in the grass itself. I use a multi-step approach in my Sisyphusian battle against weeds.
The first is Ortho Weed B Gon spray. This decimates crabgrass and dandelions, which are rampant in our area and, if you’re not careful, can overtake your lawn in a very short time.
Next, in the early part of spring, I use Scotts Weed and Feed to keep the pesky weeds out while also giving the real grass some much needed help. The difference in the both the thickness and the color of the grass after using this is almost astounding.
Then, in the height of summer, I put down Scotts Turf Builder SummerGuard Lawn Food with Insect Control to protect it in those brutally hot, dry stretches that will just destroy the yard and most of the plants.
Those are great, but are you going to apply them? If you have more than a small section, you can’t be expected to pour it out of the bag and anyone that has watched an Instagram fail video knows that it’s not out of the realm of possibility to slip and have fourteen pounds of grass seed all land in one single spot.
I use a spreader, and you don’t need a big one.
The Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Spreader is perfect for my needs. It holds up to 5,000 square feet of lawn product so it’s not like I’m constantly refilling it. My favorite part is that there is a setting that allows you to decide how wide or small you want the release hole to be so you can be more precise with your spreading.
That’s all great for the grass, but what about the flowerbeds and areas of small rocks that look great but also have weeds?
That’s when I empoly Preen weed preventer. I use it on the stones, the woodchips, anywhere there are weeds except the grass.
Of course, Preen only works as a preventative measure, so it will stop new weeds, but won’t do anything to those already there. To kill those, you could use a chemical spray and risk it, but I prefer to use a tool that I wish I had known about years ago.
Garden Guru weed and dandelion puller allows you to get to the root of the problem, literally. Rather than pulling from the top and just getting half of the dandelion, this gets all the way into the soil and easily removes the entire thing in one quick motion. This was a game-changer.
In addition to killing weeds, we want our grass to stay hydrated. Watering is arguably more important than anything else you can do to help your grass. To make that happen, I employ three essential things.
The first is the Flexzilla 50 foot garden hose. Unlike Dad’s hose that was rigid, heavy, and full of crimps, Flexzilla is light and, as its name states, very flexible. It’s a steal for the price.
There’s a certain level of Zen that can be attained by watering a lawn yourself, but for the sake of time and efficiency, I like to enlist help in the form of the Orbit tripod sprinkler. It has telescoping legs that allow for different heights, and at its tallest it can reach up to 85 feet.
Forget to turn the sprinkler on or going away for a few days? No sweat, just set the Rainpoint programmable electronic sprinkler timer. It has all sorts of functions and settings including delay and even a “how often” option, but the programmable timer is the main attraction.
Finally, we need to protect ourselves. I never used to wear gloves when I did yard work, but after getting tired of digging dirt from under my fingernails or waking up one time with my hands and wrists covered in poison oak, I became a convert. You can use almost any type, of course, but the CoolJob bamboo touch screen gardening gloves are lightweight, comfortable, and, best of all, compatible with touch screens so you can use your phone without having to remove them.
There are thousands of tools and products that can help keep your lawn looking fresh and healthy, but these ten are a great start.
Christopher Pierznik is the worst-selling author of nine books. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Find more of his writing at Medium and connect on Facebook. Please feel free to get in touch at CPierznik99@gmail.com.
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