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Making Your Backyard Your Personal Oasis: A Basic Guide


You’ve spent weeks laying out the plans for renovating your backyard, turning it into your own personal Narnia: a white-stained pavilion here, a freshly painted picket fence there, and rustic tables and benches scattered strategically amongst the gardens, so you and your guests can enjoy your backyard’s natural beauty. You could pour all the money in the world into this place, carving out your own idyllic slice of utopia amongst the hustle and bustle, the concrete monoliths that dominate the streets just minutes away from your doorstep.

There’s only one problem: your gardens look like they’re about to die. And unless you want your backyard to feel more at home in a grey-palleted Tim Burton film, you’d better learn how to maintain them properly.

While you’ve no doubt spent a lot of time thinking about how to make your backyard uniquely yours, experimenting with different designs and styles of décor, the heart of any suburban utopia is the health of the land itself. It doesn’t matter if you have the most stylish outdoor dining area if your guests are stuck looking at yellow grass and withering flowers. So if you’re looking for tips for properly maintaining your lawn and garden so your next social gathering doesn’t wilt in a similar fashion, you’re in the right place.

Here are a few tips for maintaining your lawn and gardens.

Your Lawn: Never Too Much, Nor Too Little

Proper lawn maintenance requires both a regular routine and an idea of proportion: it’s important to mow your lawn regularly, never allowing the grass to grow too long or, heaven forbid, cutting it too short yourself. Both extremes can significantly damage the health of your lawn, as cutting your grass too short can expose the soil beneath to the elements, drying it out faster and shortening the life of your yard. Letting it grow too long can, in contrast, get your grass used to absorbing more considerable amounts of resources, causing it to go into shock and die when cut at any shorter length.

You should also water and feed your lawn at regular intervals, being careful to also do these things in proportion. Again, too much or too little feeding or watering can have significant adverse effects on the health of your lawn.

Your Garden: Keeping Your Utopia Alive

Choose and Maintain Your Plants With Care

Before planting something new in your garden, you may want to check it and see if it shows signs of disease, like rotted stems, leaves dotted with holes, or numerous insects crawling across the specimen. It’s not always easy to diagnose a contaminated sample for what it is, especially if these signs aren’t present, so make sure to check the quality of the plant’s roots before you buy it. It’s important to catch these things before planting anything new, as diseases can spread quickly to other plants in your garden if not caught.

Also, be sure to trim wounded limbs as soon as you spot them. If left unpruned, wounded limbs can become infected as time goes on, spreading disease throughout the plant and ensuring its untimely demise.

Quality Soil, Quality Plants

As with overfeeding and overwatering your lawn, overfertilizing your garden can essentially flood the soil with nutrients, stressing out your plants and limiting the capacity of your roots to absorb the same nutrients in the future. As such, you may want to get an expert to conduct a soil test, giving you a pinpointed idea of what the proper level of fertilizer should be for your garden.

You’ll also want to be careful not to use certain kinds of chemicals on your garden, such as herbicides that contain glyphosate. Commonly used chemicals like Roundup have been known not only to damage the ability of plants to produce amino acids, therefore killing entire lawns singlehandedly, but have been known to cause cancer. Do your research before putting unknown chemicals on your lawn.

A Lawn Worth a Thousand Words

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to making your lawn look like something out of a storybook, following these tips will ensure you’ve got the basics down, making it that much easier to realize your dreams of a utopic backyard.

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