Julia Clem | Technical Writer

Unless you’re fortunate enough to live on a large plot of land, you probably have neighbors in relatively close proximity. Whether you and your neighbors have become close friends or sworn enemies, they most likely have opinions about both your yard maintenance skills and the appearance of your yard—and they might just be keeping those opinions to themselves. If you’re curious about what your neighbors think (but won’t say) about your yard, read on.

1. You’re Cutting Your Grass Way Too Short

If you’ve never adjusted the blade height on your lawn mower, there’s a good chance that you are cutting your lawn too short at some point during the year. The rule of thumb is that no more than one-third of the grass blade should be removed at one time. Since the rate of grass growth changes throughout the year, your mower’s blade may need to be raised or lowered a few times during the yearly lawn maintenance schedule.

Most sources recommend a mowing height of two and a half to three inches—in the summer, stay on the higher end of that range. When you notice the grass growing at a particularly fast rate, lower the mower blade to two inches. If you consistently mow your lawn too short, your grass will be more likely to have a weak root system, and it will be more susceptible to weeds. 

2. You Really Need to Have Some Trees Taken Down

Do you have dying or leaning trees on your property? If they’re not yet making you nervous, your neighbors might already be concerned. If the dying tree isn’t threatening your property or that of your neighbor, you may not need to hire a professional to remove it. If, however, the tree could fall on people, houses, vehicles, or another property, it’s best to call in a professional tree service sooner rather than later. A leaning tree could have weaknesses in its structure, but a tree care professional will be able to assess the tree and recommend a smart course of action.

If the trees in your yard are healthy but are creating an overabundance of shade, you may need to rethink your landscaping. To avoid an ugly yard rife with patches of dead grass, trim overgrown trees to regain some sunlight, or work with a landscape designer to develop a shade-friendly yard. Lastly, don’t forget that trees also provide cozy homes and convenient highways for critters. If you have trees that are growing a bit too close to either your house or your neighbor’s house, both you and your neighbor run a higher risk of finding unwanted guests in your attics and chimneys.

3. Stop Over-Watering Your Lawn

When summer heat sets in, it’s easy to assume that your grass needs as much water as possible to remain green and healthy. Truthfully, your lawn’s watering needs largely depend on what type of grass is growing in your yard. If your lawn is primarily covered by a drought-tolerant variety designed for warmer climates, the grass will not require as much water as varieties intended for use in cooler climates. Watering your grass twice per week is usually sufficient, but make sure that you water deeply enough each time. Ideally, the water should soak six inches into the ground to encourage deep, strong roots that will resist pests and diseases. To test this, poke a thin screwdriver into the dirt. If it goes about six inches down with relative ease, that day’s watering session can come to an end.

4. You Know That’s the Wrong Type of Grass, Right?

If you’re having a hard time either getting grass to grow in your yard or keeping the existing grass healthy, you may need to take a closer look at the type of grass you’re trying to grow. The wrong type of grass can contribute to an unattractive yard—and to your neighbors’ lists of complaints.

Grass needs at least four hours of direct sun during the day. If your yard is particularly shaded, look for varieties of fescue instead of ryegrass or bluegrass. If remembering to water the lawn during the summer is not your strong suit, opt for fescue—it’s hardy and will tolerate drought better than other varieties. If your property is sloped and you have difficulty with rainwater eroding the existing grass, seed the area with perennial ryegrass, which germinates quickly and will help protect the soil. To further protect your lawn, avoid bags of mixed or unspecified grass seed. Taking the time to buy and use the right seed for your lawn’s needs will result in a healthier, attractive lawn.

5. Have You Thought About Hiring a Professional?

Many homeowners don’t have the time for yard work—and many more simply don’t enjoy it. If you fall into one or both of those categories, consider hiring a lawn maintenance company. Most companies offer scheduled, seasonal plans, so much of the guesswork is taken out of the equation for you. Lawn care professionals typically have years of experience working with different types of lawns, and they can be an excellent resource if you start to notice signs of a pest problem.

Your lawn doesn’t have to be the neighborhood eyesore. Taking a look at your yard from a neighbor’s perspective will help you pinpoint problem areas to address, and if you’re up for it, you can make a lot of the improvements yourself. If you’d rather have someone else do the work, contact some local Best Pick lawn maintenance companies to see how they might be able to help. Before you know it, your neighbors will have nothing to gossip about.

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Sources: Cornell University; ScienTurficSod.com; The San Francisco Gate; This Old House; University of Illinois Extension; University of Maryland Extension; Popular Mechanics.

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