There’s something great about having a sprawling, multi-acre yard — that is until it comes time to maintain it. While having your own private oasis is amazing in many ways, with it comes work. Mowing an acreage, clearing brush and raking leaves can be overwhelming if you don’t have the right tools and techniques to stay on top of it.
However, with some planning and the right approach, you can keep your large yard looking great without it becoming a chore.
Create a Land Management Plan
Start by walking the perimeter of your property to determine the total acreage. This helps you gain awareness of what you’re working with so you can develop a realistic plan.
Note the terrain, any existing structures or gardens, trees, slopes or problem areas. Consider how much lawn or pastureland you want to maintain. More lawn means more mowing, so keep that in mind. Also look for signs of erosion or poor drainage and think about solutions now to avoid issues later.
Decide How You’ll Use Each Area
Do you want space for outdoor activities, a garden, natural habitat or all of the above? Divide your land into sections based on use. For example, you may allocate areas to landscaping, pets or livestock, gardens for growing vegetables and fruits and natural space to attract wildlife.
Create a Schedule
Develop a routine for mowing, fertilizing, clearing brush, maintaining trees and weeding. Staying on a regular schedule makes the work more manageable and can help you spot any problems early on.
Start implementing your land management plan one section at a time, making changes as needed. Caring for acreage is rewarding work that will enhance your connection to the land.
Choose Low-Maintenance Lawn Alternatives
If you’ve got more than an acre or two of lawn to maintain, traditional grass may not be the most practical choice. Consider some low-maintenance alternatives that will save you time and money.
Native grasses — like buffalo grass or blue grama grass — require little mowing or watering once established. Plus, they grow slowly and naturally resist weeds; the roots grow deep; they’re drought tolerant; and you only need to mow once a month or so to keep the grass looking its best.
Low-growing groundcovers are another great lawn replacement. Things like clover, thyme, sedum and chamomile stay under 6 inches tall, choke out weeds, and require little maintenance. They do best in partial shade and average water. Plant a variety for visual interest.
Note that synthetic grass has come a long way and can provide a lush lawn look without all the work. What’s more, it won’t fade or discolor and lasts 15-20 years and you never need to mow, water or fertilize it. While the upfront cost is significant, the long-term savings in time and money are substantial for large yards.
There are many eco-friendly and budget-friendly alternatives to a high-maintenance lawn. Do some research on options that will suit your climate and then sit back and enjoy your yard without all the work — your weekends will thank you.
Invest in a Riding Mower and Other Large Equipment
Once you have a few acres of land, maintaining your yard efficiently becomes crucial. Investing in some larger equipment designed for bigger properties will make the task much more manageable.
For one thing, a standard push mower simply, quite literally won’t cut it. Look into a riding lawn mower — especially a zero-turn mower — that can navigate around obstacles with ease. Riding mowers can save you hours of mowing time for a couple of acres. Look for a mower with at least a 42-inch cutting deck for maximum efficiency.
For really big yards — especially those with hilly or rough terrain — a compact or subcompact tractor is ideal. In addition to mowing, a tractor can help with other tasks like tilling soil, clearing snow, hauling equipment or materials, and powering attachments like woodchippers, leaf vacuums and snow blowers.
While a riding mower will handle the bulk of the grass, you’ll still need tools for trimming and edging. Gas-powered string trimmers (weed eaters) work well for trimming grass in tight spaces and on slopes that a mower can’t reach. For a neat, manicured look along driveways and walkways, invest in an edger to create clean lines. The more power the better for thick, overgrown grass.
During fall, you’ll appreciate a heavy-duty leaf blower to clear leaves from your yard. A gas-powered backpack blower or one with 200 cc engine or more will generate plenty of power to move wet, matted leaves. Look for a “turbo boost” feature, which provides an extra power surge when you need it.
With the right equipment in your arsenal, it’s much easier to manage large yard maintenance and keep your acreage looking its best each season.
Outsource Help for Large Landscaping Projects
Maintaining acreage requires a major time commitment. For larger landscaping projects, it often makes sense to hire outside help.
Tasks like mowing, pruning, weeding and clearing brush can easily bog you down. Don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. Calling in reinforcements for bigger jobs is a smart solution.
Hiring a lawn mowing and landscaping service is an easy way to lighten your load. They’ll have the proper equipment and experience to efficiently handle your large, open space. They can also help with hedge trimming, mulching, fertilizing and clearing overgrown areas.
Professional arborists are equipped to safely prune and cut down mature trees. They also can properly shape trees and remove dead or damaged branches. Consider hiring one when you need to prune or clear several trees at once.
For major hardscaping projects like building a new retaining wall, paver patio or outdoor kitchen, hiring contractors to do the work certainly helps. Not only do they have the tools, materials and workforce to complete the job — you also avoid the hassle of renting equipment or coordinating multiple helpers.
not to be forgotten are tasks like gutter cleaning, power washing siding or driveways, and cleaning chimneys or attics. Specialty service providers can scrub, clear and declutter in a fraction of the time it would take you.
When hiring help, just be sure to get multiple estimates to compare. Check online reviews from other customers in your area. Make sure any contractors you consider are properly licensed and insured. Clarify exactly what services they will provide before work begins.
Outsourcing lets you enjoy your acreage without being tied down by constant upkeep and chores. Focus on the parts you actually want to handle yourself and leave the rest to the professionals.
Embrace Native Plants and Low-Water Landscaping
If you have a large yard, consider embracing native plants and low-water landscaping to make maintenance more manageable.
Select flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees that are native to your region. These plants are already adapted to your climate and soil, meaning they need less water and care. Do some research on your state’s native plants or talk to someone at your local gardening center. Some great low-maintenance options for many areas include lavender, salvia, sedum, ornamental grasses and juniper shrubs.
When it comes time to plant, cluster native flora together based on its water and light needs. For example, group drought-tolerant plants that need full sun in one area, shade-loving plants in another spot, and plants that need moderate water in a separate zone. That way, it’ll be easier to care for them properly.
Because large lawns require frequent mowing, watering and fertilizing, it’s wise to limit the amount of grass in your yard by replacing some areas with native groundcovers, mulch, gravel or pathways. Adding mulch around plants and in bare areas of soil helps the ground retain moisture, prevents weeds and gives your yard a tidy appearance. Additionally, organic mulches like shredded bark, pine needles and wood chips enrich the soil as they decompose. Gravel or rocks also make an attractive mulch for low-maintenance yards.
When you do water, do so infrequently but deeply to encourage your native plants to develop deep roots that can access groundwater. Watering too often results in shallow roots, so your plants become dependent on frequent watering. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinklers. And water in the early morning when less will be lost to evaporation.
Following these tips will help make your large yard more sustainable and easier to maintain so you can spend less time gardening and more time enjoying your outdoor space.
Want more tips to keep your home and yard looking their best? Maybe some tips for settling into your new neighborhood in style? Don’t miss our blog — it’s filled with tips and tricks.