How to Sell a House with a Bad Yard: Grab the Garden Gloves and Get to Work


How to Sell a House with a Bad Yard: Grab the Garden Gloves and Get to Work


An unkempt yard isn’t just an eye-sore, it’s a signal of an unkempt home. Most homebuyers will look at the exterior of a property before considering whether they want to purchase it. If your yard is covered with weeds or has large bare spots it will deter many homebuyers.

To fix your bad yard you need to do a bit of extra work. While it may seem small in relation to the work you will be doing to prepare the interior of your home to sell, basic yard care that includes cut grass, fertilized lawn, and weed control can add $2,173 to your house at resale.

This is quite a large addition to your home’s value when you consider that the average cost to fix a bad yard is approximately $340. That is an incredible 539% return on investment.  This high of a return on investment makes the small financial cost and the few extra hours of work well worth it.

Let it Grow

Many homeowners believe that cutting their grass very short will reduce weeds and make their yard look tidier. However, the opposite is true.  Mowing removes part of the grass surface thus eliminating a portion of the area that is necessary for photosynthesis.

When grass is cut too short, called scalping, it can deplete the grass’s energy reserve which could lead to the grass dying or becoming weakened. This leaves the lawn vulnerable to an invasion of weeds.

Instead of cutting your lawn to an extremely short level, keep it closer to 3 inches tall. Keeping the grass-root shaded with a long leaf length will shade the area keeping the base of the grass hydrated and healthy. In addition, you should ensure that grass blades are not damaged during the mowing process. Keep your mower blades sharpened and cut your grass at a uniform level.

Keep it Fertilized

Fertilizing your lawn is a process that most homeowners skip either because they are pressed for time or simply not aware that their yard needs a big dose of extra nutrients on occasion. Most lawns need a layer of fertilizer once or twice a year. Any more than that is unnecessary and a waste of time and money.

Start the lawn fertilization process by determining what type of grass you have. Cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, tall fescue and fine fescue do the majority of their growing during the winter. jTo assist in that growth period you should fertilize these types of grasses in the fall. If your lawn appears to need more nutrients when late spring or early summer comes you can apply another round of fertilizer.

If you have warm-season grass on your lawn such as Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, zoysia, centipede, and buffalo grass you should apply fertilizer in the early summer so there are plenty of nutrients available before it goes partially dormant in the winter.

The best day to fertilize your yard is the day after heavy rain or large watering.  This ensures that the soil will be soft and able to absorb the nutrients from the fertilizer. If you apply fertilizer right before heavy rain, the nutrients could be pulled from the soil before it has had time to use them.

When you apply fertilizer, begin at the edges of your yard then work your way in. Ensure that you overlap each strip slightly so that the entirety of the lawn is covered. To make sure that you evenly apply your fertilizer use a spreader instead of scattering by hand.

A slow-release fertilizer is the best kind of fertilizer and will go further to deliver constant nutrients to your lawn. Finally, while it might seem logical to add more fertilizer to maximize nutrient absorption, this will only work against your growing efforts.  Too much fertilizer could burn or even kill your lawn.

Leave the Clippings

After you’ve mowed your lawn the last thing you want is for all those grass clippings to be tracked into your home. But if your yard is in need of extra care you may need to deal with a few stray clippings on your rug. Grass clippings provide free lawn food as they contain beneficial nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium.

The small trimmed ends of grass will break down quickly when they are left behind.  When you follow a regular mowing schedule you should only be trimming off a small amount of grass so the clipping should not be that extensive.

If you have missed a few mowing sessions, clumps of clippings are likely to form. These can be raked away and bagged, however when you are back on a regular mowing schedule you should leave the clippings on the ground. The only other time when you should bag your grass clippings is if you are working to rid your grass of a disease.

Fill In Bare Patches and Bald Spots

When your lawn is really beginning to grow you may still have a few areas where there are bare patches. These are easy to fill with a lawn repair mix that can be found at most stores that sell lawn care products. Before scattering the mix you should remove the dead grass and loosen the soil to approximately three inches below the ground. Next, use a spreader to scatter the mix if the patch is large enough.

If it is not, cover your hands with gloves and spread the mix by hand. There should be no more than half an inch thick of mix on the patch. Finally, you should regularly water the patch until the seeds begin to sprout. The soil should be kept damp but not overly watered to ensure that the seeds will remain in the dirt.

If the patches on your lawn are large you may need to lay sod. Pre-grown grass will save the time and extra work that scattering lawn seed requires. If you need your lawn ready to show immediately, you should opt for sod as it immediately gives the look of a finished lawn. When sod is properly installed it takes approximately two to three weeks to root and become established.

One drawback of sod installation is the initial cost. On average, an installation of sod will cost anywhere from $600-$1,296. However, if you are in a pinch and pressed for time sod is the best way to repair large bare patches on your lawn.

Get Rid of Grubs

Your once beautiful lawn now has large brown patches of dead grass scattered all over.  If this sounds familiar you may have a lawn grub problem. Lawn grubs are an immature form of a variety of beetles such as Japanese Beetles, June beetles or European chafers that eat away at grassroots.

The most effective way to determine if you have a grub problem is to remove a square foot of sod, approximately three inches deep from the centre of a brown patch. Sift through the dirt for C-shaped milk-white larvae. If you find more than five grubs you have a grub infestation and need to treat it. Treatment sprays are available to lawn care stores and are fairly easy to use.

You should wear protective clothing when using the treatment and keep pets and children off the lawn. Use the spray and then lightly water the area so that the product can penetrate the soil. It will take up to 10 days for grubs to die. Once they are gone you can proceed with patch repair.

Keep the Weeds Hidden

Three of the most common weeds are crabgrass, dandelion, and white clover. Each of these weeds, while unsightly, need to be treated in a specific way to ensure they are eliminated and do not return. Crabgrass stems spread and brand out and have a blue-green or purple blade.

This hard to remove weed thrives in lawns with extremely short grass or those that are overwatered. While a weed spray might kill existing crabgrass you will need to remove the weeds from the root and dispose of them in a trash bag. To prevent further formation of crabgrass you should allow your grass to grow a bit longer.

While plucking out the bright yellow flower from the ground or blowing the seeds of a dandelion from the stem might have been a favourite childhood pastime, it is hardly a joy for homeowners looking to transform their lawn.

When the fluffy white seeds blow across the lawn they take hold in a new area of the yard and will produce more dandelions. To remove the weed you can dig up the plant and its root, however, dandelion roots can be up to 10-inches deep. Using a dandelion-specific spray will kill the plant allowing the root system to be easily pulled from the lawn.

White clover was once viewed as a superior alternative to grass and is today used as a delicious addition to salads and teas. However, they are an unsightly addition to a push green lawn and should be removed if you are hoping to sell your house.

White clover tends to creep up in lawns that are low in nutrients and overwatered.  Fertilize your lawn to help your grass thrive and prevent clover from spreading. Plants that are already established need to be either sprayed with a herbicide or removed by hand.

Keep Your Lawn Hydrated

As a general rule, there is enough rainfall to keep your lawn watered and growing.  However, droughts do occur and lawns can easily dry up and begin to die. To prevent this from happening you can water your lawn two to three times a week. Any more watering than that will just be a waste and a recipe for waterlogging.

You should water your lawn before ten in the morning to ensure maximum impact and absorption throughout the day. If you are prepping your lawn so that you can sell your home, you should avoid installing an in-ground sprinkler system. It might seem like an easy way to water your lawn but homebuyers will see it as a high-maintenance expensive addition to your home.

A bad yard is nothing new and a common issue that many homeowners deal with. Just because your lawn needs a bit of extra TLC that doesn’t mean you need to forgo trying to sell your home. With a bit of extra time and energy, your yard can go from a weed-covered patchy mess to a lush bed of soft green grass.


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