By: Jeff McManus, Director of Landscape Services, University of Mississippi
1. Keep your beds protected and looking fresh with mulches such as pine straw, wood chips or pine bark. Mulches are not only asthetically pleasing, but also help stop weeds, hold in moisture for plant roots, and help prevent soil crusting and help prevent erosion.
2. Keep turf lines and hard edges such as sidewalks & curbs edged. Grass growing into shrub beds and over hard surfaces detract from the defined look of the yard. Crisp bed lines of mulch next to turf give great definition to any yard.
3. Develop any "eye for detail" and see the little things that make a yard gorgeous. For example, don't let hedges get over grown or cover up windows and put the right plant in the right location. If you are constantly fighting a shrub to stay small, you may have the right plant, but in the wrong location.
4. Keeping life simple is important. Landscape maintenance can be simple if you take the time up front to plan and invest the right way. You will enjoy your yard more if you do not constantly have to go back and do the same dreadful task over and over again. Find simple ways to manage the yard. I hate to pull weeds, so I don't. I use pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides to control weeds. The thrill of the kill saves me time to do other things I really like to do in the yard.
5. Do you have low hanging limbs that hit you in the face when you moe? If so, lift those limbs up and enjoy the view as well as not getting slapped by a limb every week.
6. Seasonal and perennial flowers, such as impatients and daylilies are great for color. Pick out or create focal points around the yard such as entrances, curves, pots, and hanging baskets that may "wow" your guest and you.
7. Pick the right plant for the location. Some plants like to stay tight and grow well next to the sidewalks such as Nandina. Others do not, they may like to stay tight and enjoy growing big and wild like Eleaganus.
8. Over-seed your lawn or repair areas with sod. Make sure you water the lawn when needed. Bare spots take away from the overall appearance of the yard.
9. Mow turf with sharp blades. Do not remove more than 1/3 off the height of the turf canopy with any one mowing. Do not "scalp" the lawn with weedeaters.
10. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance. I have seen many folks waste time and money on a hobby they enjoy because they do not want to develop a plan or seek out advice. Ten minutes of knowledge can turn an ordinary yard into a lush garden of interest, color and excitement.
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