When you live in a neighborhood, most neighbors are going to judge you based on your yard and curb appeal. If your property looks clean and classy, people will assume you’re clean and classy, too. If your yard is a mess, people will make other assumptions about you.

5 Tips for Winning the Yard of the Month - yard, surfaces, Plants, outdoor, division, color, balance

In order to win the “Yard of the Month” award, you must pay careful attention to which boxes you’re checking off.

5 Secrets for Nabbing Yard of the Month

Whether you’re aiming for a tangible “Yard of the Month” award from your HOA, or you simply want to win it figuratively by impressing your neighbors and fielding an endless stream of compliments, you should religiously follow these simple principles.

1. Prune at the Proper Time 

Pruning is one of those tasks that nobody really enjoys – and it doesn’t always provide instant gratification – but it is necessary. The key is to prune at the right time. This requires you to understand when the shrub blooms.

  • Summer-flowering shrubs should be pruned at the end of winter or in the very early spring before there’s any new growth. (If pruning in early spring, make sure there’s absolutely no new growth; otherwise, you’ll risk the shrub not blooming at all this season).
  • Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned quickly after the spring flowers fade. These shrubs bloom on the growth of the previous session (known as “old” wood). So if you prune too early, you’ll actually cut off their buds.

Have a plant that you’re not sure what to do with? Always do some research and ask around before pulling out those loppers.

2. Proactively Prevent Weeds in Your Lawn 

Your lawn has a significant impact on the appearance of your overall yard. It takes up more square footage and visual space than any other part of your property – so make sure it’s weed-free. Here are some suggestions for minimizing and preventing weeds:

  • Avoid mowing your lawn too short
  • Allow grass clippings to return to the lawn
  • Skip the spring fertilization phase
  • Avoid over- or underwatering your yard

It’s also a good idea to apply some sort of pre-emergent herbicide in the spring when the top inch of soil is at least 55 degrees for five consecutive days. Once the soil reaches this temperature, annual weed seeds start to germinate. By applying the pre-emergent right away, you protect your lawn.

3. Create Tasteful Division and Balance

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. In other words, if your entire property is nothing but grass, it won’t have much visual interest. It might look fresh and green, but good luck winning “Yard of the Month.” there needs to be some tasteful division and balance.

Think of your yard in terms of zones. You want at least two to three different zones to create that visual interest that people want to see. This includes lawn areas, flower beds, trees, etc.

Another option is to install vinyl perimeter fencing around your property. Vinyl perimeter fencing gives it a classic American feel and has a way of adding some dimension to your yard.

4. Add Some Color

The best yards have some color to them. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but is most effective when you strategically plant flower beds to compliment the overall landscape.

“Make your flowers work for you by planting them in attractive layouts,” real estate agent Audrey Sellers writes. “Taller plants should be placed in the back of a square or long flower bed, and smaller plants should be brought to the front. Or, if you have a free-standing flowerbed, place tall plants in the middle and work outward with smaller plants.”

You can also add color by introducing tasteful elements on your front porch. Colorful planters and even a painted rocking chair or two can work well.

5. Pressure Wash Hard Surfaces

While most of the attention goes to soft surfaces and plants, don’t forget about hard surfaces like the driveway, walkways, and any stone features you have. Be sure to clean and pressure wash these surfaces regularly. It’ll help you maintain that neat and clean appearance you want.

Ready to Wow the Neighbors?

Keeping a lush, vibrant yard isn’t necessarily an easy task, but it is manageable when you have a plan. This starts with carefully addressing each of the secrets outlined above. If you follow these rules, your yard will be in the top 10 percent in the neighborhood – guaranteed. And you might even win that cherished award a time or two. Good luck!