Lawn care advice for renters?
March 15, 2008 7:33 AM   Subscribe

[RentalFilter] Lawn/yard care and rental properties... Does anyone have any experience or advice for a former city boy now stuck with 1/4 acre of rapidly deteriorating yard and no tools to speak of?

I just realized that my landlord conveniently left the advertised yard maintenance out of my lease and now I'm stuck with this yard and no way to care for it. Money's tight but not non-existent. The same goes for my time. The idea of having something to do outside on the weekends is kind of appealing. My girlfriend/cohabitant has always dreamed of garden and I of the bounty of veggies & herbs said garden could produce.

But is it worth it to invest in suburban hardware when there's a good chance I might up and move back to the city in the next 5 years and certainly won't live at my current residence more than another 48 months? Should I just pay someone to make it look decent and mow the sucker every two weeks?

I should point out that I live in drought-ravaged Raleigh NC, a town that just imposed moderate-severe water restrictions. So an immaculate lush lawn is out of the question. I'm just looking for something that won't make me the eyesore of the neighborhood.
posted by willie11 to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
"left the advertised yard maintenance out of my lease "

He advertised it as including lawn care at the rate you're paying???

If so, I think it's his responsibility........

Or..if you don't want to hassle with the landlord, and if you're only staying a few years, go buy a cheap/used lawn mower for $50 and leave it behind when you leave.....
posted by HuronBob at 7:36 AM on March 15, 2008

Response by poster: Yeh, I was thinking of making a stink about that, but it's my fault for not reading the lease closely enough. I have a google-cash of the advertisement which included lawn maintenance still saved on my hard drive. I suppose that's another question, should I press the property manager on this?
posted by willie11 at 7:57 AM on March 15, 2008

It's definitely worth asking about -- you could send him an email with the google cache image and say something like "I completely forgot to ask you about this when I signed the lease -- is there some kind of addendum I needed to sign regarding this lawn maintenance you advertised?" That puts him in the position to have to either have the stones to tell you you're out of luck, or to honor his offer. It also puts you in the position of being polite and assuming the best of your landlord, yet not appearing as a total pushover, which is a good thing to establish early on as a tenant.
posted by justonegirl at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

If any of your neighbors have a riding mower, maybe they'd be willing to do your lawn when they cut their own for $10. Or maybe there's a kid/teen in the neighborhood that would do it for a small fee. If you're not planning to make this place your home, it's probably not worth buying a good lawnmower (a cheap one won't last long). Mr. Adams finally hired a service because our workload got too heavy and he just didn't have the time to mow once a week (in our area, the city gives you a ticket if the grass gets past a certain length). Our service charges $15 per week, and does both the front and back lawns.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:04 AM on March 15, 2008

"left the advertised yard maintenance out of my lease "
A major bargaining point. Since you are considering doing the gardening yourself, you might ask the landlord for the money to purchase some tools to use.

$200-300 should do it if you buy used off craigslist or similar. A push lawnmower (doesn't have smog/noise issues) is fine if the lawn isn't too big , hand pruner, trowel, shovel, rake, hoses + nozzles, and several pairs of gloves are the most used items around my place.
Obviously, these would be left with the house, when/if you leave.
posted by artdrectr at 10:55 AM on March 15, 2008

1/4 acre, huh? Does it get sun? If it gets full sun, and if your gf/housemate is up to it (with help from you, of course!), you could lay down cardboard to kill the grass, buy a truckload of dirt (not the free dirt you can get on craigslist. That's crap), spread it around, and go to town. I'm in Durham. The summer growing season begins in about a month (April 13th is the magic day--average last frost), so you can get a kick-ass garden in. AND I'd be willing to offer my services! Cause I'm nice! Technical assistance and even woman power! But yeah, the drought might make you want to not do that. Ah well.

Alternately, I bought a $25 mower off of craigslist that works like a charm.
posted by Stewriffic at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could minimize the amount of lawn you have to care for by planting the ubiquitous Blue Rug Juniper at the back of your lot. You will have to water these until they get established, but eventually they will spread to 6' wide and require no maintenance.

Stewriffic is correct - you could put cardboard or newspaper down to kill and area of grass and then bring in a load of topsoil. Amend the topsoil with some compost and maybe some peat, then plant away - you'll have a nice garden this summer. (The area needs to be sunny, not shaded for this to work). If you want to start small, you could put in a salsa garden - about 4 tomato plants, some sweet peppers, chiles, onions and cilantro. A strawberry patch would be a nice addition, too, though these usually only last 2-3 years before the plants peter out. Gardening is really fun, and the food you grow yourself tastes nothing like the pale imitations at the supermarket.
posted by Ostara at 3:16 PM on March 15, 2008

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