OP-ED

7 tips to make your yard the envy of the neighborhood and more environmentally-friendly

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Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, FM Global

As summer comes to an end and fall quickly approaches, does your lawn look like a beautiful golf course, or like many homeowners, does it look like a dustbowl, choked with drying weeds?

As the grounds maintenance supervisor at FM Global, I’m often asked by residents about our landscaping routine and property maintenance of the 243-acre FM Global corporate offices on Central Avenue and the Northwoods campus on Atwood Avenue. The key to making your yard the envy of the neighborhood is learning how to apply a few landscaping techniques we use to prepare FM Global’s property for the fall to your own yard:

1. Prepare for the next season a season in advance: When it comes to yard care, you should always be thinking ahead and preparing for the next season. Late summer is the time to prepare for the fall. Fall is the time to prepare for the winter, and so on. At FM Global, we understand that damaging winds can happen at all times of the year and not just during hurricane season, so we always stay proactive with tree care to avoid the hassle and damage that may be brought on by a storm. It’s better to be proactive with tree care than wait until it’s too late to trim the trees in your yard.

2. Plant native species to help the environment, and your wallet: When it comes time to select plants for your yard, it’s best to go native. Native flowers, shrubs and trees are more environmentally-friendly because they grow naturally in the area. Plants can also help wildlife by providing a natural source of food. At FM Global, we’ve been working on reducing the amount of lawn space on our property, substituting it for more environmentally-friendly plants and shrubs. Reducing the amount of grass on your property can save you money on fertilizer and water, while also benefiting the environment and local species. Help your yard thrive this fall by considering planting native species over exotic ones, and by limiting the amount of lawn space in your yard.

3. Mulch your leaves and lawn clippings instead of bagging them: Mulching is an environmentally-friendly, economical way to keep your yard looking its best. At FM Global, we mulch the lawn clippings and leaves instead of bagging them. Mulching lawn clippings and leaves helps build the soil, plus it saves labor and money spent on fertilizer and water. It also decomposes, which has proven to be better for grass health.

4. Change up your mowing routine: In the summer, we mow the lawn at a height of 3-3½ inches, but in the fall, we switch to mowing it at a height of 2-½ inches. Keeping the grass longer in the summer discourages weed growth and makes for healthier grass. Cutting it shorter in the fall helps prevent diseases in the winter and helps with leaf mulching.

5. Seed in the fall, not the spring: While you may think of spring as the time for planting and lawn care, fall is actually the perfect time to seed, aerate and perform other repairs on your lawn. Shorter days and cooler nights help establish the grass seed since there’s less stress from heat, humidity and drought. At this time of year, we ease off watering the grass little by little, which cuts down the water bill and makes for a healthier lawn.  

 6. Keep some of those pests around: Believe it or not, it’s okay to have some pests in your yard. To keep pests under control at FM Global, we first scout out what kinds of pests are on the property and determine what our comfort level is. Basically, this means deciding roughly how many grubs and other pests are acceptable to have on the property before they become a problem. We like to hold off on using pesticides unless there is a serious need for them. Again, minimizing pesticide use is good for both the environment and your wallet.

7. Bring more birds to your property: Adding bird houses and feeders to your yard will not only boost its eco-friendliness, it will also create aesthetic appeal. By attracting native birds, you can increase the pollination of flowering plants and decrease the number of pests in your yard, since many birds feed on bugs. The FM Global property has birdhouses scattered throughout to provide birds with a place for shelter, roosting and nesting. By providing birds with a comfortable place in your yard, you can help local species, and your own yard, thrive.

So why not change up your landscaping routine this fall? Just as the leaves change, so can your lawn care routine. With the right tips and some TLC, your yard will be ready for the season ahead – and you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.  

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