Owning a rental property provides a great source of passive income. Landlords must complete specific rental property tasks to ensure they keep people living in the home or apartment and that it stays attractive to continue to make that extra income.
Landlords and tenants often have different opinions when it comes to certain rental responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is the task of lawn maintenance. It’s challenging work, but it has to be done by someone. And if the property is a rental, that task usually falls on the landlord.
Landscaping and maintenance can add value or detract value from the property. When done well, the landlord will surely have tenants looking to rent the property. However, if you left a tenant to upkeep the curb appeal, the tenant might not complete it in a way that attracts others to the rental.
One of the most crucial times to complete lawn maintenance is after the winter thaw. Winter can leave yards looking a bit untidy, but with some extra care, you can make any lawn look ready for the summer.
Here are some tips on how to refresh your rental’s lawn this spring.
Partake in Spring Cleaning for the Lawn
Almost everyone participates in spring cleaning once winter is over. It’s a great time for renewal and a clean start in homes. Owning a rental property means you might have to double your tasks for another home. In addition to cleaning the inside of a home or apartment, you should take care of the outside, too.
The first task in refreshing your rental’s lawn this spring is to clean up debris from the winter. Heavy snows and ice in the winter may break off twigs, and early spring storms can cause branches to fall. Additionally, there may be some leaves left over from the previous fall.
Assess the state of the yard. Do a thorough inspection, and get rid of any plants that didn’t survive the winter or aren’t blooming. Pick up any natural debris and compost it. If there’s any trash lying around, dispose of it in a proper receptacle. A cleared lawn will provide you with a fresh start for other maintenance items you need to address.
Prune the Trees and Shrubs
Once you’ve cleared the lawn of any debris from the previous season, you can check trees and shrubs for pruning. Trees and shrubbery serve as beautiful additions to landscaping as long as you keep them trimmed back. Unkempt branches might devalue your property.
Start by inspecting your trees and other vegetation for long branches that are getting in the way. Perhaps some branches scrape the side of a building or are preventing other trees from growing. Trim those first.
Move on, looking for branches that may look diseased or dead. Cut those back as well. When you correctly prune a tree or shrub, you encourage new growth. Make sure you follow seasonal rules for different types of vegetation so you know when to prune them. Pruning in the wrong season may stunt their growth.
Rake the Entire Lawn
Next, you’ll want to get out the rake. Usually, homeowners or landlords will save the raking for the fall when all the leaves are on the ground. However, if you want a fresh lawn for your rental property in the spring, you should consider deep raking.
Even though trees produce new leaves in the spring rather than let them fall, you should still rake the lawn. Thatch is the leftover product from debris and grass. It’s a layer of dead grass tissue that settles between the new grass and the grass roots. When it gets thick, it can prevent growth and may be bad for your lawn’s health.
Deep raking will remove the thatch as well as any dead blades of grass. Use a flexible leaf rake rather than something with a sturdier metal to prevent damaging grass and other vegetation. If the rental’s lawn looks healthy enough, though, you can skip over this task this spring.
Test the Soil
Testing the soil ensures it can fully support any new vegetation and the existing vegetation within the lawn. Most grasses do best in soils with a neutral pH. Anything above 7 means the soil is too basic. Anything below 7 means the soil is more acidic.
There are plenty of different soil testing kits that should be available at lawn-and-garden centers or online. If you find the soil isn’t sufficiently neutral, you can add in soil amendments. There are various amendments, so do your research or take the dirt to a professional lawn service to have it tested.
If you would rather have someone else test the soil, send a sample to your local Extension Office. They will tell you the pH and what you need to add for the soil to get back to good health. A healthy lawn starts with healthy soil, so if you notice that your grass or other vegetation isn’t thriving, you should check on the soil.
Aerate the Lawn
In areas where the rental’s lawn experiences high volumes of traffic, you should aerate the soil. Over time, people who walk on the grass or set a piece of heavy equipment on grass can cause it to compact. This pushes down all the air and can lead to compacted roots.
Alleviating the problem is relatively simple — use a pitchfork or an aeration tool to poke holes in the ground. This allows air to enter the soil, letting the grass roots breathe and spread more easily. Additionally, the holes provide an extra way for the ground to get more water and nutrients.
No matter your budget, you can find a way to aerate the lawn. A pitchfork is a one-time investment that will create perfect holes in the ground. It can be time-consuming on your part, but it saves money. Otherwise, you can hire someone to aerate the lawn or get a mechanical tool to do the work for you.
Smooth Out Uneven Ground
When the snow melts or when heavy rains hit your region, it can leave the ground quite uneven. If there are inconsistencies with your rental’s lawn layout, it’s time to address them. Uneven land can be a nuisance and may lead to further problems like poor drainage. Areas with higher ground may risk getting cut too low when you mow the lawn.
Also, uneven ground can make recreational activities difficult. For example, if your tenant tries to set up a table on uneven ground for a cookout, the table will be wobbly for the event’s duration. Plus, the uneven ground often makes it more challenging to grow vegetation.
To fix the problem, you can use a shovel to reshape the land. Use the dirt from areas of high ground to fill in places where the ground sags a bit. Once you manipulate the land, you can add seed so the grass will grow in those bare spots.
Sow Seeds and Plant Flowers
Once you have even ground and neutral soil, you can refresh your rental’s lawn with new grass seed and fresh flowers. You may still have some bare spots that need to be covered by grass to make the yard look fresh and healthy.
Instead of just focusing on those bare spots, overseed the entire lawn. This means you spread out seed over the bare areas and over grass that is already there. Overseeding only the bare patches works, but adding seed all over will provide you with a fuller and lusher lawn.
In addition to sowing grass seed, you can plant flowers that do well in your region in flower beds or planter boxes. Spring provides some of the most beautiful flowers, which will attract future tenants and ensure a high curb appeal. Make sure you tend to the flowers, though, to keep them healthy and thriving throughout the spring season.
Fertilization will help stabilize the soil and help your grasses grow. Using organic fertilizer or ones that won’t harm the environment is best to keep your rental property sustainable. Compost works well as a natural fertilizer, and it’s free if you create your own compost pile.
If you would rather have a quick-acting fertilizer that uses chemicals, there are many options available for you to choose from. Typically, in the spring season, you won’t need to apply a heavy layer of fertilizer, especially if you fertilized in the fall.
Be sure to check the amount of fertilizer your rental’s lawn needs. Too much fertilizer might create more problems, like disease and weeds. Before fertilizing, water the yard to get the soil ready to accept the fertilizer. Start fertilizing around the perimeter and work your way to the middle so you don’t miss any spots.
Putting down fresh mulch every spring will boost the lawn’s attractiveness and make any flowers or vegetation you have planted pop. The curb appeal of your rental property will immediately go up when you apply mulch. Although many people use mulch to make their lawns more attractive, it serves many other purposes as well.
Mulch naturally makes it difficult for weeds to grow. Additionally, it helps the soil hold in moisture. Since it holds in moisture, you won’t have to water the places where mulch is applied as often. This conserves water usage for your rental property and could, in turn, decrease water bills. Mulch also holds in heat, which many plants love.
Another benefit of adding mulch to your lawn or flower beds on your rental property’s lawn is that it increases the number of microorganisms in the soil. These beneficial organisms break down nutrients in the ground and can help add other nutrients into the soil. If you don’t want to purchase mulch, you can make your own out of chipped bark, leaves, or even recycled rubber.
Apply Herbicides If Necessary
Sometimes, you have to apply herbicides. Some weeds are too stubborn and won’t go away or entirely take over the lawn. Plus, you might want a weed-free yard to attract future tenants. If that’s the case, it’s okay to apply herbicides to your rental’s lawn. Make sure the herbicides you choose are safe for the environment.
You’ll want to apply herbicides before the weeds start to come through the ground. These herbicides are considered pre-emergent. They take care of the weed problem long before the weed seedlings even emerge. When choosing an herbicide, you generally want to stay away from those that combine fertilizer with herbicides. Keeping the two separate tends to work better.
If weeds still manage to pop up after you’ve treated them with a pre-emergent herbicide, you can use a post-emergent herbicide on them. Otherwise, you can examine the lawn and pull up any weeds that are a nuisance.
If you want to ensure the weeds won’t come back, you can use a small shovel to dig them out. Once the root is gone, the weed can’t grow back. Make sure to properly dispose of the weeds, though — if you leave them lying in the lawn, they’ll grow back.
Service Your Lawn Equipment and Mow the Lawn
Once the snow is gone for good, you’ll have to say goodbye to the shovels and snowblower and say hello to the lawnmower and weed whacker. If your lawn equipment has been sitting in a shed for the winter, look it over and complete any necessary repairs before you use it for the spring and summer seasons.
After you’ve sharpened the mower’s blades, you can begin mowing the lawn. Keeping the lawn short and tidy will boost its appeal and keep it looking fresh throughout the warm months. Although it may seem like a simple task, keeping up with mowing and doing it correctly will ensure your grass is healthy.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try to make patterns in your rental’s lawn, although it’s not necessary. And be sure not to cut your grass too short — doing so will expose the soil, making it easier for weeds to grow.
Always use caution when mowing your rental’s lawn as well. If it’s within your budget, you can always hire a lawn cutting service.
A Fresh Lawn for the Warmer Months
With these tips, your rental’s lawn will be looking brand-new in no time. All of these tips may not be necessary for your particular lawn, but they’re a good starting point. Revisit these tips for years to come to ensure you have a neat and tidy property for all of your tenants.