My Yard is a Waste of Time and Money

By glblguy


This post was originally a guest post I wrote for Financial Dominance. I am reposting this while my broken arm heals (blogging with one hand is hard!).

My wife made a comment the other night, “Why do we care about our yard so much? I am just tired of worrying about it”.

My boys mowed the yard the other night, and when they finished the whole front yard looked like a dust storm had gone through. What grass I have is crabgrass, the rest is mostly dirt with a few weeds and lots of completely yellow and dead grass. In the spring, in was a luscious green and completely full and thick.

Looking at our yard, my wife commented “Why do we care about our yard so much? I am just tired of worrying about it.

That got me thinking about how much time and money I put into my yard each spring and fall. In the spring I aerate, thatch, re-seed, fertilize and water. By May it’s beautiful, then the summer heat and drought kicks in. Within a few weeks the yard is yellowing, within a few more there is more dirt than dead grass. In just a few more large clumps of crabgrass are beginning to dominate.

Then comes September. I aerate, thatch, re-seed, fertilize and water (hmmmm, this is sounding familiar). By December the grass is dormant. Dormant is a fancy word for grass that looks dead but isn’t really.

A quick calculation of the cost each spring and fall:

Grass Seed: $50.00
Fertilizer: $50.00
Aireate: $50.00
Watering: $80.00 (for 3 months)
Total: $230.00 or $460.00 per year

Let’s assume for a few minutes that I live in my home for 20 years. Over the course of 20 years that works out to be $9200.00. Placed into my 401k at a conservative 10% return for 20 years, it would be $10,865.00. This doesn’t even factor my time in which would inflate the numbers even further.

With that kind of money, I think my wife is right. I am tired of worrying about it, watching it grow then die just to grow and die again. Not to mention, $10,865.00 is a lot of money and frankly money I could use.

I think I’ll just leave the yard alone this fall and see how it does in the spring. I’ll keep you posted!

How much do you spend on your yard annually? Do you bother with it? Any suggestions for accomplishing the same thing more frugally? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

17 Responses (including trackbacks) to “My Yard is a Waste of Time and Money”

  1. Justin Says:

    My yard is lucky it gets mowed. If I am feeling especially motivated it may even get trimmed.

  2. Erin Says:

    Nice picture of your lawn :) he he…

    I’m using the “exceptional drought” status we are in as an excuse not to water. The weeds are saving me though. They are green, and when they are kept mowed and short they look just like grass! (ha ha, not really, but pretty darn close)

  3. glblguy Says:

    @Justin – I let my boys mow it! Well, when there is grass to mow that is.

    @Erin – Trust me, it’s not far off from that! Wish I had weeds…just have dirt now.

  4. Justin Says:

    Are the girls too young to mow it?

  5. glblguy Says:

    Only have 1 girl. She’s 18months.

  6. Justin Says:

    Wow! you really skewed the average then!

    I just assumed you’d have more considering the size of the fam.

  7. Nancy Says:

    Have you considered xeroscape or naturalizing your lawn?

  8. glblguy Says:

    @Justin – she is adopted :-)

    @Nancy – We’ve naturalized much of it. Considering planting a different type of grass though.

  9. Money Blue Book Says:

    Hmm…well why cut your hair then? Just let it grow and grow and become shaggy.

    It’s all about presentation. If you hair or lawn is shaggy/overgrown, it’s a reflection on you and how you take care of yourself+your house. My old neighbor when I was little used to keep his lawn impeccably neat. I rarely met him but based on his lawn, I surmised he must have been very organized and successful. Just an observation.

  10. glblguy Says:

    @Money Blue Book – I didn’t intend to imply I wouldn’t keep it decent, I just can’t justify spending the money to keep it really nice like I used to. I’m not into presentation anyway, so not worried about that. Most of the people I know that “present well” are broke and up to their eye balls in debt.

  11. Eric Says:

    Add to that list of expenses the maintenance of the mower and weed whacker, electricity for the edger and electric hedge clippers, the suntan lotion when it’s sunny out, mulch, and just time it takes to maintain it and it really adds up. I’m seriously considering xeriscaping for our next yard. That way it looks decent, is more capable of handling our weather conditions, and just takes less maintenance.

  12. glblguy Says:

    @Eric, I’ve researching that option too, along with alternative types of grass.

  13. Eddie The Engineer Says:

    Just a note on the math … if you contributed $460/year at reg intervals you’d have $27,000 with a 10% compounding return and if you did $260/year you’d have $14,000 (numbers rounded). My guess is you may have used an online investment calculator (many of which reduce the annual return over time to reflect a move out of equities and into bonds). If this was the case, let that be a lesson to always treat online calculators with a measure of distrust. If you’re math savvy, a mid-level calculator that can do derivatives and integrals (Simpson’s Rule) is a great tool.

  14. Eddie The Engineer Says:

    Whoops. Make that $230 a year to get to $14,000. Let that be a lesson to proofread my posts before I submit….

  15. glblguy Says:

    @Eddie – Thanks Eddie, my mistake was the intervals, I didn’t do them correctly in my spreadsheet. Thanks for catching this.