Last Updated on September 10, 2022 by Griselda M.
How to save money on lawn care? How to make money out of the land where your lawn is? A lawn is a hangover from a previous time in human history – follow this article to find out how you can save money on lawn care and make yourself healthy, happy, and content in the process.
What is a Lawn and Why Do We Have Them?
The early years of lawns
Once upon a time as the industrial revolution began, rich people lived in the countryside on big estates, and poor people lived in slums in the cities where they worked for rich people in crowded factories. Rich people had horses and carriages to take them into the city where they could manage their investments. Poor people walked to work.
Rich people needed a place for their horses to graze and had fields around their mansions where the horses could nibble at grass, hence a wealthy house had an expanse of “horse food” around it. Lawns and expanses of green became synonymous with wealth.
When lawns became accessible to more people and we lost the plot
With the invention of the gasoline engine, and new spatial planning systems, cities developed suburbs where “poorer” people, now empowered by the energy in gasoline, could live on bigger plots of land, and they tried to look “rich” by surrounding these plots with grass. But they did not have horses to trim the grass like real rich people and hence an entire sad fixation developed where we went down a path of using machines to cut grass, fertilizers to fertilize it, and covered vast expanses of beautiful soil with lawn-consuming huge amounts of water, and actually making the “poor people” with lawns poorer. A lawn is probably the single worst investment, after a swimming pool, that anybody can make.
These two “status symbols” consume resources and reduce food and energy security globally.
How To Save Money On Lawn Care
There are a few basic things we can do to save money on lawn care. I will start with the more drastic options, and move to options that allow you to maintain the status quo, but with less waste of money.
Tip 1: Reduce the size of your lawn and deploy this land to more useful activities
This is my preferred choice and what I and many like-minded people have done. I used to spend hundreds of dollars a month maintaining the acre or so of lawn on my property and around it. This was so irritating – if an inch of rain falls it multiplies into 5 inches of grass that have to be cut. Lawn mowers use fuel, break all the time, and are just an infernal creation.
I reduced the size of the lawn to a bare minimum and planted vegetables, and fruit trees built a small reservoir that stores rainwater from the road for irrigation, and allows my ducks to swim and do their thing. I was able to turn a largely useless, expensive expanse of green into a useful productive plot of land that reduces my food bill by about 80%, and will continue getting better as the apple, peach, pear, quince, banana, plum, apricot, mulberry, tree tomato, papaya, avocado, macadamia, orange, lemon, limes, satsumas, grapes and so on getting more productive. Within a few years, the only thing I will need to buy will be meat.
So, my lawn has gone from being a liability to an asset.
Tip 2: Plant a low-maintenance grass and let it grow a bit longer than normal
My grandfather was a big proponent of this. He had a truly ridiculously huge lawn, and for the few months of the year that it was not under snow, it caused him endless headaches! Each climatic zone has grasses that are so-called “low maintenance” grasses. Grasses such as Fescue are a bit less irritating than other grasses.
Bermuda grass is another relatively non-irritating grass for warmer areas. It does creep around a bit.
If you live in a warmer climate you can plant Kikuyu grass – I would strongly advise against this. Kikuyu is like the plague – really difficult to get rid of. It is however a very tough low maintenance grass.
I have seen it actually take over hundreds of acres of land turning it into a luminous green wasteland. It has taken me nearly ten years to eradicate this infernal grass from my land. Again, as you can tell, I hate lawns – but if you want a lawn that will survive an atomic bomb blast, and pokes through the radioactive slag that is left, it will be Kikuyu grass.
If you let the lawn grow to a length of three to four inches and then trim it, and use a mulching mower, the lawn clippings fall into the grass and feed earthworms. The earthworms in turn increase the water absorbing capacity of the soil and help you build up soil moisture and drainage allowing your lawn to act like a soak during the rain.
Tip 3: Artificial grass
I would actually probably recommend this over planting a lawn. The environmental impact of a lawn is probably nearly entirely negative. There is a carbon footprint in maintaining the piece of green.
There is a waste of water. There are fertilizers – most of which run off and pollute rivers. The herbicides. The pesticides and so on.
If for some reason you want to have a big expanse of green around your house, why not just cover it in the fake lawn – this does not require maintenance or much maintenance. Some fake lawns actually probably do something good for the environment in that they trap water that can infiltrate into the soil and replenish groundwater.
I know that this sounds really harsh, but it is important to take off the blinkers of the past two hundred years of coal, and then oil-powered delusion – we live on a finite planet. There is only so much land that can be used for food production, and only so much water. If you have to cover your land with green, cover it with green plastic so that at least it is not hogging water.
Then you also save the maintenance cost of mowing the lawn, and over a decade or so, the amount of energy you used to mow the lawn, will probably balance the amount of plastic used to cover your lawn.
Tip 4: Plant a lawn, but make it work for you
A lawn is a large photosynthetic surface area that captures sunlight and turns it into energy in the form of grass. If you can find a way to harvest this captured energy, in such a way that you maintain your lawn, and produce food, you are turning the lawn into a working asset.
You can make a chicken tractor that will allow you to turn your grass (and bugs) into chicken meat and eggs. I like this guy’s design using an IBC Tote frame (IBCs are 1000l liquid shipping containers that you can often buy as scrap from container depots). I had a far less elegant system that I used to use, which was also made from IBC totes that I used to move quails around in my garden.
Quails are cute and produce these irritating small eggs. Eventually, I got sick of the admin of finding quail eggs and terminated the last bit of lawn.
I had a similar tractor system that I used for rabbits, but I put expanded mesh on the bottom to stop them from digging holes out of the system. However, I eventually felt a bit bad as a rabbit should be able to dig. They are also not very good at eating, and you get sick of eating rabbits. I know, rabbit is supposedly healthy and so on, but it sticks in my throat and I just don’t enjoy it.
With these grazing tractors, you move them each day or every second day, and the chickens/rabbits/quails graze the grass turning it into useful things and manure. The manure fertilizes the lawn, returns organic matter to the lawn, and makes it healthy. The chickens eat all the insects in the section they graze, and make your lawn pretty disease resistance.
If you only want a lawn, you can actually get geese and let them free range – 10 or 15 geese will keep a half acre of lawn pretty short. They will also stop all Amazon deliveries, and any unwanted guests too. Geese eat a lot of grass – but they have a bad attitude. I tried geese on my outside perimeter, but people complained about being chased by them when they walked past. Sadly.
Additional Tips: Use Organic Or Homemade Fertilizer For Your Lawn
The easiest way to increase the nutrient content of your soil is to put organic fertilizer on your lawn, especially in the spring and fall. I always recommend an organic fertilizer that contains milled chicken feathers – these provide a slow nitrogen release and help to build up all sorts of useful soil microbiology.
Organic fertilizer contains all of the essential minerals necessary to support plant growth. Most chemical fertilizers contain just three types of nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These tend to leach out of the soil quite fast and add little long-term benefit to the soil. In many cases, they actually damage the soil.
Final Thoughts On “How To Save Money On Lawn Care”
The best way to save money on lawn care is to dig the lawn up and plant vegetables and fruit trees – in this way you turn a liability (your lawn) into an asset (supply of food). If you cannot do this, consider planting low-maintenance grass – or even covering the lawn with fake grass. Alternatively, employ chicken and rabbit tractors to mow your lawn and convert biomass into healthy food for your family, and whatever is not digested by the animals is returned to the soil as manure – nature’s natural fertilizer.
What do most lawn care companies charge?
There is no actual way to answer this question here. This will depend on where you are in the world. A lawn company turns human energy, mechanical energy and time into a mowed lawn. This means the cost of energy and labor influences your lawn care cost. If you think about it, it is a really weird thing to spend money on.
How much does the average American spend on lawn care?
Too much. Spending money on maintaining a piece of green grass around your house is a highly questionable behaviour. As we move into a new period of high energy costs, food scarcity, and water scarcity, lawns are something that we need to think about. A home vegetable patch is a far more beneficial use of land and water and time.
How do you keep grass low without cutting it?
Plant slow growing grass. Or use chicken tractors to turn the grass into eggs and chicken meat. This makes a lot more sense than using expensive energy and machines to turn grass into waste material.
How long does it take to mow a lawn?
Too long. Any time spent mowing a lawn is time wasted! I used to spend a few hours a week mowing my lawns - now I spend that time picking fruit and vegetables. Mowing a lawn is a chore - growing food is a sensible pleasure that reduces stress, and enhances your health.
Branko is the world‘s most enthusiastic gardener! He is always on the hunt for the perfect flower, bush or tree to add to his ever–growing garden. He is known for his love of all things green, and his passion for nurturing the plants he grows is unmatched. He loves to get his hands dirty and can often be found humbly tending to his garden at all hours of the day. Branko is the go–to guy when it comes to gardening advice – he is always happy to share his knowledge and wisdom with anyone who will listen. He also loves to play pranks on unsuspecting visitors, so beware if you enter his garden!