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Easier yard maintenance

When the weather warms, homeowners often flock to their backyards to entertain, relax and enjoy the great outdoors. But oftentimes the work and maintenance that is involved with keeping a yard looking its best can negate the rejuvenating effects of spending time in an outdoor space.

Luckily, there are ways to cut down on the yard maintenance so you can free up more opportunities for sitting back and relaxing with friends and family. Consider these tips from By the Yard, Inc., manufacturer of durable outdoor furniture made from recycled materials.

Choose native plants and perennials. Let's face it, as rewarding a hobby as gardening can be, it does require an investment of time and energy. By choosing plants wisely, you can cut down on the number of plants that perish and need to be replanted, and you can also take a hands-off approach to gardening. Perennials will bloom each year and won't have to be replanted every season. Fill your yard with many perennials and then add colorful annuals to flower pots and other containers to fill in the gaps with little effort.

•Look for maintenance-free outdoor furniture. Who wants to spend season after season scraping or painting outdoor furniture that hasn't stood up against the weather? Many types of outdoor pieces have to be protected from the elements, including being covered or put away during nasty weather. That adds up to more of a headache than homeowners need. Milk helps build strong bones, and recycled milk jugs help build strong, maintenance-free furniture. Many new kinds of furniture are made from from recycled milk containers and plastic water bottles. Unlike most other plastics, the material used to fabricate the furniture is considered colorfast. It will not fade more than three percent over a 10-year period. This is furniture you never have to replace or put away, rather simply enjoy all season long.

•Invest in a sprinkler system. Watering a yard by hand can take a lot of time and may not be efficiently watering the lawn and plants. Sprinkler systems take the work out of watering by automatically deploying at times programmed by you. This way you can schedule the sprinklers to turn on in the early morning, when you may have already left for work, often considered the best time of the day for water penetration and prevention of evaporation. Sprinklers and drip irrigation systems come in many designs and can be customized for your needs. When set up correctly, they can be an eco-friendly way of watering the landscape.

•Consider lawn alternatives. A beautiful lawn may be a sight to behold, but for many homeowners the work involved, including sowing the seeds, fertilizing and mowing, make the final product bittersweet. Look to groundcovers, pavers, clover and other landscaping ideas to break up the amount of lawn in your landscape. If you have young children or pets who are notorious for wreaking havoc on a lawn, you may want to cut down your lawn ratio even further. If you have your heart set on rolling acres of pristine beauty, hire a service that can do the maintenance for you.

•Think about how you use your outdoor space:Whether you like to sit outside and relax or are more into frequent entertaining, design your space around these factors. This way you don't have furniture or other yard accessories that interfere with your plans and require additional care. Also, look for items that can serve multiple purposes, such as benches that can hold planters but also be seating areas when there are more guests around. How about furniture that can be kept out all year long if you like to entertain outside no matter the season?

With a few simple tips you can spend less time working in the yard and more time enjoying it.

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