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Safety and Sustainable Practices for Your Lawn and Garden

Grass-stained feet, screen doors left open at twilight, fireflies drifting through the velvet darkness – we all have childhood memories of summertime. And now that you’re a parent with your own house, you want to give those memories to your children, too. Your lawn is an important feature of your property, and if it’s patched with dirt, you’re missing out on barbecue parties, eating out of your own garden, and watching your kids and dogs scamper through sprinklers. So, follow some of these tips to make sure that your lawn is safe once school’s out and warm weather arrives.

Basic Lawn Maintenance

First on the list of lawn-care musts: fill in any bare spots in your yard. You may need to consult a landscaper about this, since it involves identifying the causes of the spot. These include insects, drought, chemical burn, people stepping over it, and so on. Then, dig into the earth about six inches, mix in topsoil, and sprinkle grass seed. Cover with straw and spray with a hose. Finally, shell out some money for a good lawn mower. Avoid scalping the lawn (cutting it too short), and do something called “grasscycling,” or letting the clippings lie on the lawn to fertilize and replenish the grass.

Fence, Gardens, Trees, Shrubs

No matter if your lawn shines emerald-green: you won’t be able to provide your family with a safe outside space without a fence. The price you pay to install one may vary depending on whether you want the fence to be vinyl, PVC, wood, or even bamboo. And you may have to secure a permit or permission from the HOA to even approve the installation.

A fence is a great investment, but equally important is checking on trees and shrubs that need to be pared back. The typical cost range for tree and shrub maintenance is $245 – $462 – way less than the cost of a fence, and worth it if loose limbs and branches are at risk of falling on your roof or on your family when you’re outside. Even if your grandfather planted that silver maple in your driveway generations ago, consider having it trimmed or removed if poses a danger.

Sustainable Practices

Nothing tastes like summer quite like sea salt and balsamic vinaigrette sprinkled over slabs of tomatoes that you plucked out of your own garden. You’re in luck, because you can build a raised vegetable bed even with limited space. Find a spot in your yard that gets direct sunlight for most of the day. That’s prime real estate for growing small-scale crops. But you will need to plan out what those crops will be, since some plants require different amounts of space than others. Finally, mix in peat moss, vermiculite, and some compost to produce robust corn, peas and carrots for a salad or a hearty soup.

If asking the HOA for permission to put up a fence was a hassle, expect pushback if you want to raise farm animals in your lawn. But, if you do get the green light, some of the best animals to start out with are bees, goats, chickens, and pekin ducks. Each is different, but they generally need a coop or barn-like structure that stays snug in the winter. (Or, with bees, hive boxes with a bird bath for a water source.) And, in turn, you’ll have your own milk, meat, eggs, and honey production, with a steady supply of natural fertilizer to boot.

Make sure to cordon off your space so that thieves or predators don’t get into your yard, your dog doesn’t attack your farm animals, or your young children don’t pick scraps out of the compost bin. Once you do, you’ll not only have a lush garden to enjoy, but also your own small-scale farm operation to sustain you through the long days of summer.

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