THE BEST OF GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Easy ways to give your yard a facelift

More than two-thirds of American homeowners spend time or money — or both — tending to their lawns. (Photo by Patti McConville/Getty Images)

Want to increase your home’s curb appeal? You’ll be glad to know that landscaping and other outside updates don’t have to be a hassle. Follow Good Housekeeping’s targeted tips, and you’ll be proud to invite guests over, have the neighbors stroll by or even just pull into your own driveway.


Brown sections
It’s tempting to set the mower blades low so you won’t have to cut the lawn again so soon. But slicing off more than an inch of grass at a time can cause what remains to turn brown. Ditto with using a dull blade. (Have the mower serviced yearly.)

Trampled paths

If your family and guests are always trekking across the grass, take it as a cue that the route should be recognized: Install slate or concrete paving stones.

Brittle grass
If blades look withered or snap easily, it may be that the ground’s too dry. To test, push a screwdriver into the soil in a few spots. If it doesn’t go in smoothly to a depth of six inches, haul out the hose.

Overall yellowing
A jaundiced lawn actually can be caused by fertilizer — the nitrogen in it that encourages growth can “burn” the grass if it’s overdosed. After a treatment, water your lawn well to dilute the fertilizer and help it soak down.

Yellow patches
The probable (icky) culprit is pet urine. Like fertilizer, it contains nitrogen, but in a more concentrated amount.

The only real solution: Curb your dog. If you catch him (or another pup) lifting his leg on your lawn, quickly douse the spot with the hose. Existing yellow patches may need reseeding.


If keeping a lawn green has you seeing red, consider these alternatives:

“No-mow” Grass or Clover (or a blend)
“No-mow” grass doesn’t grow as tall as regular grass. Clover is a low-cost, low-maintenance crop that can take the place of your grass. These options won’t offer a golf course-like appearance, but both cover large areas with a swath of green, and need far less TLC.

Edible Ground Cover
Replace small areas of grass with spreading varieties of herbs, such as wintergreen, thyme or sage; leafy veggies in the lettuce family; or even low-growing berry plants. Note: These, and clover by itself, can’t take as much foot traffic as regular grass.

For the least maintenance, consider gravel, slate tiles or another rocklike ground cover — a particularly smart solution in drought-prone areas. Plan it out (with a pro, if needed) before you de-plant, to decide what greenery stays. Landscape fabric underneath should help prevent regrowth. 


Put it down to deter weeds in flower beds:
Pick organic mulch (rather than inorganic types such as brick chips or shredded rubber) — it will keep the ground cool, hold in moisture, let plant roots breathe, and break down to enrich the soil.

Skip free mulch, unless you know the source. If it contains weeds, mushrooms or diseased wood or plants, it can spread those scourges to your yard.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Michaels 3-Tier Haunted Townhouse candle holders, sold exclusively at Michaels stores nationwide from July 2017 through November 2017 for about $30.

The candle holder can ignite, posing fire and burn hazards. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled candle holders and return them to any Michaels store for a full refund. Consumers can contact Michaels at 800-642-4235 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST Monday through Friday or online at Click on “Product Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

2017-2018 Ford Taurus

The keys for these vehicles may be able to be removed from the ignition when transmission is not in the PARK position. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 114, “Theft Protection.” If the key is removed from the ignition while the vehicle is not in the Park position and the parking brake is not applied, the vehicle may roll away, increasing the risk of a crash. Ford will notify owners, and dealers will replace the shifter assembly for free. Ford issued interim notifications to owners on March 23, 2018. Owners may contact Ford customer service at 866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 18C02.

© Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate



THE BEST OF GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Easy ways to give your yard a facelift–