Whether you haven’t been able to use the backyard due to serious neglect or you just haven’t had the time yet to get out there and clean up after winter, spend some time now to get it ready for summer entertaining. It will definitely be worth the effort. Reclaiming your yard allows you to make the most of your property and increases your family’s enjoyment of their living space.
If the Backyard has been Neglected
When the backyard is seriously neglected, breathe new life into it by reclaiming it with a few simple steps.
Step 1: Clear away obstacles, throwing away items that aren’t reusable. Then mow the lawn and do any required edging. This will give you more room to work and a better idea of what else needs to be done.
Step 2: Identify what plants are growing where. Remove any plants that you no longer want in the flowerbeds, including dead ones or ones that “blew in” from somewhere else.
Step 3: Assess the health of any trees and/or shrubs growing in the backyard. To remove any large plants or dead trees, you might need to consult an arborist.
Step 4: Do garden care – till and fertilize the soil of the flowerbeds; reseed areas of the lawn; pull weeds.
Step 5: Prune trees, especially ones growing close to the gutters or brushing up against the siding.
If You have Children
Whether your children and their friends ride their bikes on the lawn; play baseball (or any kind of ball); energetically run around while playing games; or dig for buried treasure, it’s sure to impact your lawn. Use these steps to fix and prevent further damage to your backyard.
Step 1: To repair a lawn with minimum to medium damage, cut out the damaged areas in squares. Replace with squares of new turf in the same size and shape.
Step 2: To repair a lawn that has been extensively damaged plan to reseed. Spread topsoil evenly over the entire area with a rake until you can only see grass; apply grass seed by hand or use a lawn seeder; lightly water the area until the seed sprouts; protect the area with ropes or a temporary fence for the first two weeks.
Step 3: If patching the lawn or reseeding is a constant home maintenance chore, consider replacing the grass of just the backyard with artificial turf. While it might seem to be an expensive solution, it could save you time and money in the long run.
Step 4: Design and maintain a play area – kid-friendly backyards range from simple (sandbox and swing set) to multifaceted (play structure with slide, tree house, etc.).
Step 5: Encourage backyard activities that will be kind to your lawn. Set up a telescope for stargazing. Add a birdbath and place a birdhouse in a tree – hand out kid-proof binoculars.
If You have Pets
Pets can really do a number on your backyard. Doggy routines varies from carving a path into the grass by taking the shortest route between two points to being on guard which includes territorial behaviours such as tearing up the grass or tunneling. Here are some ways to reclaim the backyard if you have pets.
Step 1: If your dog has a favourite route, replace the grass with gravel or decorative pavers like flagstones or bricks.
Step 2: To prevent dogs and cats from digging up the lawn, use a physical barrier such as a penned area or a remote barrier system that emits a spray, tone or static correction (causes a tingle on skin, not a shock). Blowing a whistle (dog) or spraying with water (cat) when the pet heads off into an off-limits zone can be a less expensive alternative to a remote barrier system.
Step 3: In garden beds, install wire mesh fencing around plants and shrubs.
Step 4: Stop lawn discoloration from urine and pet poop by training animals to go in a designated area. Another option is to replace the grass of the potty area with artificial turf.
Step 5: Pets can become easily bored. To prevent disruptive backyard behaviours provide a variety of toys.