Consumer Reports’ Lawn Care Poll Finds a Quarter of Consumers Plan to Cut Back Professional Services

April 6, 2009

CR Provides Ten Tips to Save Money and Time for a Perfect Do-It-Yourself Lawn

YONKERS, N.Y., April 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The weather is warming up and lawn owners are hitting the turf once again in hopes to create the perfect lawn. According to the latest lawn care poll by Consumer Reports National Research Center, nearly half (43%) of adults plan to spend more time in their outdoor space this year compared to last year, and only five percent plan to spend less. Consumer Reports‘ second-annual lawn poll is part of a special section on lawn-care advice, bargain-yard makeovers, lawn equipment ratings, and mower and tractor maintenance in the May issue of the magazine.

Additional poll results showed that more than a third of adults (35%) plan to put more of an effort into their outdoor space this year compared to last year. Of those, 59 percent say the extra effort is for entertaining guests and 33 percent say they want their outdoor space to look better or just as good as their neighbor’s yard.

“We found that homeowners should be prepared to dedicate an average of 6.5 hours per week working outdoors during growing season,” said Peter Sawchuk, project leader at Consumer Reports. “Knowing the best tips and purchasing the right gear and products is half the battle; putting the effort in will ensure the best lawn on the block.”

There are yard owners who are not looking to ‘do-it-themselves’ this year. Over a third (36%) plan to use a professional lawn service this year. The most common services they plan to use this year are lawn and landscape maintenance (22%), fertilizing (18%), trees/shrub care (17%) and seasonal clean-up (17%).

Among the other poll findings:

  • 75 percent of homeowners who mow are men
  • 74 percent of renters are responsible for mowing
  • 52 percent use sprays or traps to rid their yards of outdoor pests
  • 47 percent use or plan to use rainwater for watering to be more “green”
  • 40 percent get rid of outdoor pests with use of home or organic remedies
  • 32 percent have never changed the air filter in their gas mower
  • 27 percent have never sharpened the blades on the lawn mower used most often
  • 23 percent have been injured while using a tractor or riding mower
  • 16 percent have rock gardens
  • 9 percent shoot outdoor pests

Ten Tips to Save Money and Time for a Perfect Lawn

  1. Fertilize less. Instead of stocking up on fertilizer, clear out yard debris and test the soil to find out the soil’s pH, missing nutrients, how much of each is needed, and when to apply them. Insider’s Tip: Do-it-yourself soil testers do not always deliver accurate results. Pay around $10 for a local cooperative extension service to analyze your soil sample.
  2. Maintain your mower. Oil changes, basic engine maintenance and sharp blades can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Insider’s Tip: Sharpen and balance blades three times during growing season and invest $15-20 in a second blade to use while the other is being serviced.
  3. Thicken your turf. Choose grass suited to your climate, soil conditions and lifestyle. Your local cooperative extension can recommend species and varieties. Insider’s Tip: Cover seed with a fine layer of soil, compost, or peat moss. Add starter fertilizer and gently pack the soil down with the back of a hoe or shovel. Seeds germinate better in lightly compacted soil.
  4. Mow less. Never cut more than one-third of the blade’s total height or it will weaken the roots. Mow less often as the weather heats up and grass growth slows. Insider’s Tip: If the lawn develops a whitish hue, too much is probably being cut off the top.
  5. Add compost. Adding a quarter-inch of top-dressing compost once or twice a year promotes a healthy turf and saves money by reducing need for fertilizer and water. Insider’s Tip: A compost bin provides a ready supply of compost for the lawn and allows nonanimal food waste to be recycled.
  6. Mulch clippings. Mulching instead of bagging returns natural nutrients to soil, saving time, bags, and as much as 30 percent on fertilizing costs. Insider’s Tip: Hose down the underside of the mower’s deck after each use for better mulching and a neater cut.
  7. Water smartly. Water deeply and infrequently: 1 inch per week, although hot spells may require additional watering. Insider’s Tip: Water in the early morning, before the hot sun and wind prevent water from reaching the roots.
  8. Improve sprinkler-system efficiency. Irrigation systems save on watering the lawn, but vary in efficiency. On existing sprinkler systems, install a rain sensor or a soil-moisture sensor so the lawn is only watered when the air or ground is dry. Insider’s Tip: Check that your sprinkler is distributing evenly by placing plastic cups throughout the lawn.
  9. Think beyond grass. Grass won’t grow everywhere, so consider shade-loving ground covers, ornamental grasses, and plants instead. Insider’s Tip: Put shrubs and plants with similar watering needs together.
  10. Do a weekly walk-around. Check the lawn once a week for stressed plants and turf, bare spots, compacted soil, and signs of too much watering. Insider’s Tip: Early morning is the best time to inspect.

Consumer Reports Lawn Care Poll Methodology

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,006 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place over January 22 – January 27, 2009. The margin of error is +/- 3.2% points at a 95% confidence level.

MAY 2009

(c) Consumers Union 2009. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, CU accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. CU supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

SOURCE Consumer Reports

Source: newswire

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