Six Steps to a Stress-Free Back Yard

(ARA) – If your thoughts are turning to the time and energy you’ll spend in the back yard this season, you’re not alone. A new survey says that the majority of homeowners have concerns about the condition of their lawns and mowers as they think about getting into their yards this spring.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Lawn-Boy with 665 people responsible for taking care of their families’ lawns, found that Americans count cleaning up sticks and leaves as their biggest source of yard-care dread. Fear that their lawn may need major repair work ranks second, and concern that their mower might not run well – or at all – is the third biggest backyard worry.

According to the experts at Lawn-Boy, homeowners can rest easy. Spending just a little time preparing for spring will help ensure a stress-free mowing season. “Turning your attention to your mower and lawn in early spring makes all the difference,” says Joe Hager, a senior engineer at Lawn-Boy. “A little work now will really pay off throughout the spring and summer.”

Hager offers these six tips for a stress-free mowing season:

1. Get your equipment into shape. Getting your mower ready for spring doesn’t need to be a stress-inducing affair. After sitting unused for several months, your mower will probably need a little TLC, and spring is the perfect time to schedule a trip to the dealer for a tune-up. Or, tackle the task yourself, making sure to check and change the oil, air filter, and spark plug, and assess whether the blade needs sharpening or replacing.

2. Use the right mower. If your mower didn’t perform up to your expectations last year, it may be time to invest in some new equipment. Today, higher-end models combine professional-level effectiveness with lots of user-friendly features, including easier starting. When designing its new line of mowers, for example, Lawn-Boy interviewed hundreds of homeowners and used their feedback to come up with innovative features like an easily adjustable handle height, a bag you can remove with just one hand, and a self-propel system that automatically senses and adjusts to your walking speed up to 5 miles per hour.

3. Clean up debris. When the lawn begins to wake up, schedule an afternoon of backyard spring cleaning to clear leaves and twigs left over from the fall. Picking up debris all at once at the beginning of the season will make it much easier to mow when the grass starts to grow. Spending some time in the yard early in the year will also help you determine if there’s any winter damage that needs to be repaired, and find early signs of disease or pest infestation.

4. Cut at the right height. Most of the year, keep your mowing height set high – around 3 to 3 1/2 inches for most types of grass – so you don’t lop off too much of the critical food-producing parts of the grass blade. Keeping grass tall increases its tolerance to heat and stress, and also crowds out weeds. During the first mowing of the season, cut down to about 2 to 2 1/2 inches to remove dead, brown grass and fungus that may have taken hold over the winter, leaving only the healthy part of the plant behind.

5. Feed your lawn. Water is one of the most vital elements for a healthy lawn. But try not to water at night, when moisture sits on the lawn and can breed disease, or during the middle of the day, when the direct heat evaporates the moisture. Instead, water early in the morning, when temperatures are lower and the grass can benefit from its a.m. drink throughout the day. Fertilizer is an important element, too. But before you fertilize, invest in a soil test to determine exactly what kind of nutrients your soil needs. Once you’ve chosen a fertilizer with the right blend of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium for your yard, make sure you stick to the suggested application instructions so you don’t under- or overfeed your lawn.

6. Aerate. Mature lawns can often become compacted, reducing the ability of critical nutrients to reach grass roots. Aerating – removing plugs of sod – helps loosen the soil, letting water, air and fertilizer make it down to the grass plant’s roots. Manual tools work well for small yards or trouble spots. If you’ve got a large yard, consider renting a power aerator with a group of your neighbors.

The bottom line, Hager says, is to spend a little bit of time and energy at the beginning of the season to lay the groundwork for a healthy, happy lawn. “Mother Nature will do most of the work,” he says. “But there are plenty of things you can do to help her along.”

By choosing the right equipment and making sure your lawn gets the proper amount of food, water, and attention, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a lush, vibrant – and stress-free – back yard.

For more information about premium mowers designed to meet your needs, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content