No need to break a sweat to ensure a lush lawn and perky plants. Here, easy ways to get your yard in spring time shape quickly and naturally along with how to maintain it during this season.
To Banish Weeds: Spray Vinegar
Argh! Unwanted guests are sprouting in the middle of your crocuses. To ward off weeds, just spray them with white vinegar, advises Kyle Tingley, lawn-care expert at TheBackyardMaster.com. “The acid in vinegar breaks down weeds and their root systems, eliminating them within a day of application,” he says. “Look for vinegar with a five percent to 10 percent acidity on the label.” Just fill a spray bottle with two cups of vinegar and two teaspoons of dish soap so the mixture sticks to weeds. Also smart: If you have a spot where weeds are taking over, put down some newspaper, then cover with mulch, says Tingley. “The paper creates a barrier between weeds and the sun, so the invasive plants can’t grow.”
To Green Up Grass: Water Less
Ensuring a healthy lawn is as easy as turning off your daily sprinkler. “Infrequent but deeper waterings help grass grow stronger roots, making your lawn more drought-tolerant,” says Tingley. Aim for no more than two to three watering sessions of about 20 minutes per week. Boost the benefit with a spa session: “Epsom salts — yes, the kind you use in the bath — are a great lawn fertilizer,” says master gardener Nicole Gennetta. They’re made from magnesium sulfate, which boosts chlorophyll and deters slugs.” Sprinkle one teaspoon per square foot, then water in. Also smart: Water droplets in the afternoon sun can “burn” your grass, so aim to turn on your sprinkler in the morning.
To Nix Pests: Sprinkle Spice
Keep slugs and aphids from wreaking havoc on your garden with a quick trip to your spice rack. Just grab cayenne pepper or chili powder and sprinkle it around your plants-the spice repels the common springtime pests, along with squirrels and chipmunks that dig up garden beds. “For even better coverage, blend three to four hot peppers with a few cups of water and spray your whole plant,” says Tingley. “The capsaicin that makes peppers spicy is a great pest-deterrent, and it’s safe to use on all plants.” Also smart: To attract ladybugs — the enemies of aphids — plant the pretty herb borage. In one study, gardens with the blooming plant had the highest numbers of ladybugs.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.