Improving and maintaining the curb appeal of your home requires a lush and healthy landscape, and home centers offer several affordable and effective lawn and garden products that are specifically designed for DIY application. If you’re new to lawn care, these reasonably priced products can help you grow a green lawn, beautiful blooms, and sturdy trees.
1. Jobe’s Organics Tree and Shrub Fertilizer Spikes – These easy-to-use organic spikes provide a quick and convenient way to fertilize trees and shrubs. Water the soil, and follow the directions to pound the stakes into the ground around the drip line of the tree using a mallet. You’ll want to use one spike for every three feet of plant height. It will slowly dissolve and release fertilizer directly into the root system with no chance of burning the roots or wasteful runoff. This product contains no synthetic chemicals and can be used on all trees and shrubs, including evergreens. One box of fertilizer spikes costs about $10.
2. Milorganite Fertilizer – This time-tested, slow-release nitrogen fertilizer has been available for nearly 100 years. Milorganite is composed of heat-dried microbes that are rich in organic matter taken from the greater-Milwaukee wastewater system. The microbes digest nutrients found in the wastewater and are kiln-dried into pellets. Milorganite won’t burn vegetation—including tender seedlings—and doesn’t contain salt. It is also an effective deer deterrent—sprinkle a handful of the fertilizer around the base of trees, shrubs, and plants to discourage deer from destroying your landscape. A 36-pound bag covers 2,500 square feet and costs about $15.
3. Espoma Bone Meal – This all-natural, organic plant food contains no additives or fillers. Use it in your garden to encourage strong roots, healthy plant growth, and bigger blooms. It’s the ideal nitrogen-phosphorus supplement for a wide variety of flowers, especially bulbs and roses. To apply, rake it into the soil. One pound covers about 10 square feet. For individual bulbs, mix one teaspoon of bone meal into the dirt at planting time. A four-pound bag costs about $8.
4. Spectracide Pruning Seal – After pruning branches from trees and shrubs, it’s important to seal the fresh cuts to protect against potentially deadly diseases. To prevent messy drips, spray the waterproof sealant onto the cut using several short bursts. The sealant will dry in a few minutes but remains flexible and won’t crack. This product can also be used to waterproof clay pots and wooden planters. A 13-ounce aerosol can of Spectracide Pruning Seal costs $5.75.
5. Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit – This kit lets you test the condition of the soil in your lawn and gardens, so you’ll know if you need to add amendments or supplements. Each kit contains ten tests for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Mix a little soil with water, dissolve a test capsule, and then compare the color of the soil sample to the color-coded chart. Within minutes, you’ll have a precise analysis of the soil’s condition. The kit also includes the proper pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels for more than 100 different plants. The Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit costs about $15.
6. Vigoro Crabgrass Preventer and Lawn Fertilizer – Seed your lawn and foil crabgrass in one easy step. Use a walk-behind drop spreader to apply the fertilizer, which contains time-released nitrogen for extended feeding. You should see greener grass in just 72 hours, and it will prevent crabgrass growth for up to four months. Applying the fertilizer every eight weeks helps protect your lawn from bare spots, thinning, drought, and weeds. One 43.64-pound bag of Vigoro Crabgrass Preventer and Lawn Fertilizer feeds up to 15,000 square feet and costs $44.
7. Scotts Thick’R Lawn – If your lawn is looking a little thin and scraggly, this blend of grass seed, lawn fertilizer, and soil improver can help thicken it up. Good for sun and shade, the quick-growing seed fills in bare spots, the fertilizer feeds the grass, and the soil improver enhances and strengthens root development. A 12-pound bag of Scotts Thick’R Lawn costs $20.
8. Hydro Crunch 3-in-1 Soil Tester – This simple handheld device lets you quickly monitor the three most important factors to maintaining a healthy landscape: water, sun, and pH value. Plunge the two steel probes into the ground, and the tester will let you know if it’s time to water, whether or not the plant is getting enough sun, and if the soil is acidic or alkaline. The Hydro Crunch costs about $10, doesn’t require batteries, and can be used to monitor virtually any plant, including grass, flowers, vegetables, and houseplants.
9. Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster Flower Food – This liquid fertilizer is specially formulated to provide the nutrients flowering plants need. For the best results, apply it every one to two weeks. A refill pack costs $9 and includes two 16-ounce bottles—each bottle will feed 400 square feet.
10. Kellogg Garden Organics Fish and Kelp Liquid Fertilizer – This certified-organic liquid fertilizer contains ocean fish, kelp, and molasses. While that might sound like an odd combination, it has proven to be the right ingredients for strengthening anemic soil and jump-starting plants by providing an all-natural source of nitrogen, carbon, and micronutrients. Apply it to flowers, vegetables, annuals, and more. One 32-ounce bottle can feed 2,500 square feet.
Maintaining your home’s landscaping doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive. These easy-to-use products can help you grow a lawn and garden you’ll want to show off.
Joseph Truini is a home improvement expert who writes extensively about do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair. He has authored six books, including the best-selling “Building a Shed,” and his work has appeared in several national magazines, including This Old House, Popular Mechanics, Woman’s Day, and Today’s Homeowner. He covers home improvement and shopping tips for Groupon. You can find savings on landscaping products and more on Groupon’s Home Depot page here.