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backyard Designing

Designing Backyard Splendor

Photography courtesy of Getty Images. The dog days of summer are often the perfect time to lounge lazily on the beach or in a hammock by the lake for hours on end. However, with a little effort and upkeep, you can create a personal oasis right in your backyard. Go for green Step one to…

Photography courtesy of Getty Images.

The dog days of summer are often the perfect time to lounge lazily on the beach or in a hammock by the lake for hours on end. However, with a little effort and upkeep, you can create a personal oasis right in your backyard.

Go for green

Step one to achieving a healthy backyard is assessing your needs. Is your yard in need of a large landscaping project? Do you want to add a garden, potted plants on the patio, or both? Once you figure out the spots in your yard that require extra attention and those that require only cosmetic touch-ups, you’ll feel a lot more organized.

One of the first steps to creating a backyard that’s the envy of the neighborhood is fertilizing your grass. Think of fertilizing as feeding grass the nutrients it needs; a healthy-looking yard is ensured for months to come. When choosing a fertilizer, it may be a good idea to go the organic route. Synthetic fertilizers are full of compounds that could damage your soil over time, whereas organic options retain water better and, while they may work slower, they do more for the long-term benefit of your yard. You only need to apply fertilizer once between June
and August (and it should be six to eight weeks after you did so in the spring).

Mowing your lawn properly will also help keep your grass in tip-top shape. Some tips to keep in mind include not mowing it too short—it should be around two to four inches high, depending on your grass type. Mow in the early hours of the day so both you and the grass don’t suffer from too much heat. And don’t forget to sharpen the blades of your mower. Dull blades aren’t just ineffective—they could also damage your lawn. In addition, water your grass a couple times a week in the morning, or set your sprinkler timer accordingly, so the sun doesn’t soak up all the moisture before it has time to sink in.

However, for those who don’t have a lush, green lawn, or for those who don’t live in an area conducive to this kind of yard, have no fear—there are alternatives. Ornamental grass is a great low-maintenance choice and is best paired with other types of landscaping: flowers, shrubs, and the like. Make sure to spread mulch around it to ensure its longevity.

If you live in an area that gets extremely hot weather, warm-season grasses are the easiest to care for in your climate. These could include Bermuda grass (what you see on golf courses), or midiron grass, a turf option that does well with significant foot traffic. To forgo greenery altogether, consider gravel or slate, which requires very little maintenance; a wood or composite deck, which boosts your home’s return on investment and is ideal for an entertaining space; or consulting with a landscaper about installing a rock garden, which is eye-catching and can withstand hot and cold temperatures.

The primary culprit to an unsightly backyard is weeds. You want to act fast and pull weeds as soon as you spot them. Pulling them by hand is the best way to go if you’re able, but, if not, you may need to use herbicides. Just be sure to use systemic options that kill the roots as well and protect your face and wear gloves and long sleeves.

Creating an oasis

Once your lawn is green and thriving, it’s time to s

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