Improve your lawn for far less than $100

Got a hundred bucks and a free weekend?

Then you’ve got what it takes to invest in some yard-care improvements, according to a top expert on lawn and yard care.

What can you do with $100 right now?

• Mow the right way starting today. Don’t scalp your lawn, thinking you will have to mow less often. Instead, let it grow a little longer, which is healthy for the lawn and saves on gas and wear and tear on your mower. When you do mow, cut only one-third the length of the grass blade. Cost: Less than $3 for a gallon of gas, enough for a month of mowing for many homeowners.

• Apply a few bags of bark mulch. Few things dress up a yard more than mulch properly applied on flower beds and around trees. It provides that finished look and is good for the plants because it retains moisture in the soil. Cost: About $3 per bag.

• Fertilize naturally. When you mow, leave a light layer of grass clippings on the lawn, which will become a natural fertilizer. Even better, a mulching mower finely minces the grass clippings so they decompose more rapidly. Cost: $0.

• Start a compost pile. This costs nothing but a little time as opposed to purchasing bags of compost at the garden center. It’s easy. Start a pile that includes most leftovers from your meals — excluding proteins. Cost: $0.

• Take 30 minutes to maintain your mower. Change the oil, clean or replace the spark plug, and change the filter once a year. This simple task cuts emissions, makes your mower run better and may save you from repair bills down the road. Tune-up kits are available to make it easy. Cost: $10 to $14 for the average walk-behind mower.

• Let nature water your lawn. Your lawn needs about one inch of water a week to be green and thrive. But if water is costly where you live, let nature handle irrigation. Cost: $0.

With the rest of your $100, splurge on some flowers, inexpensive clay pots and a bag of potting soil to dress up your front doorway, patio or deck. Then sit back and admire what you accomplished on a shoestring.