Landscaping on a Small Budget
We all know a beautifully landscaped yard is the way to increase your home’s curb appeal. A well-planned design not only increases the value of your home, it also provides enjoyable outdoor spaces in which to spend time with family and friends. In fact, some neighborhoods even stipulate minimum landscaping requirements for residents.
Even if you are feeling a bit cash strapped after closing on your house, you should consider stretching your budget a little further to make the yard presentable. If you purchased a foreclosure, your yard may be in desperate need of attention. On the other hand, perhaps you bought in a brand new development with only sod and a couple of twig trees. Either way, you need to spruce things up with a budget-friendly landscape plan.
So, you need to put together a landscape plan that will look like a million, but won’t break the bank. Here are some money-saving tips to get you started!
Do It Yourself
Whenever possible, do the work yourself. Invite friends and family to help. You’ll be surprised how much cheap labor you’ll attract by offering up a barbeque and beer party as payment. Sure you’ll all be dirty, sweaty and tired at the end of the day, but your yard will look fabulous!
Use the Right Plants
It is easy to get carried away at the garden center when looking at all of the gorgeous plants. I know from experience. I hate to think of the money I’ve wasted over the years purchasing plants that didn’t make it through one season.
Do some research before you hit the nursery. Find out which plants do well in your growing zone. Determine areas of your yard that get full sun, partial sun or are completely shaded throughout the day. Use plants that are suited for the different conditions in your yard.
Shop for native plants that don’t require much in the way of maintenance or water. That will save you a lot of time and money in the long run and you’ll create an eco-friendly landscape at the same time!
Get Creative With Planters
Utilizing containers on the front porch or patio is a great way to incorporate a few colorful annuals into your landscape plan. You can pick and choose your favorite blooms to suit each season without having to buy flowering plants en mass.
If you have priced decorative planters lately, you know they are expensive. Why not repurpose items you have on hand or pick them up for a song at garage sales. Old buckets, tubs, wooden crates, watering cans or even a wheelbarrow can be easily fashioned into creative planters.
Another alternative is to stick with utilitarian clay pots. Simply paint them a color that coordinates with your exterior paint and you’ve got an expensive looking container for a fraction of the price. Painting clay planters also makes them less porous. Plants will not dry out as quickly as those placed in untreated clay pots.
Incorporate Gravel and Mulch
You can add style and architectural detail to your budget landscape plan by incorporating gravel or mulch into the design. Garden paths are a nice touch to break up expanses of lawn and planting beds. Instead of using expensive pavers or hiring a crew to pour concrete, consider using crushed stone, shells or mulch to create a meandering pathway through your yard.
Draw out the path with spray paint. Remove sod (to reuse in another areas) and take the length and width measurements to the garden center or supplier to purchase the right amount of fill material. Always start by covering bare soil with landscaping fabric to inhibit weed growth.
Place edging along the sides of the path to prevent material from spreading into surrounding areas. An economical option is bendable plastic edging. Or, for a natural look, use plants as your path edging. If using crushed stone or gravel, use a hand tamper or roller to compact the material.
More Great Tips for Landscaping on a Budget
Use What You Have
If you are working with existing landscaping, preserve healthy plants and trees to help save on costs. You can easily move and transplant smaller shrubs and trees. Divide rhizomes like lilies, irises and agapanthus and reestablish them in beds in other areas of the yard. If you have inherited plants and trees you are not familiar with, do some research to educate yourself about proper care and maintenance.
Take Advantage of Free Stuff
Many cities around the country have programs that offer residents free mulch, compost and trees. In return, they expect homeowners to use these materials to beautify their yards and neighborhoods. Check with your local officials to find similar programs in your area.
If you are in need of brick and stone for your landscaping project, check out demolition sites as a free source for materials. Obviously, you’ll want to get permission from the job site owner before taking anything!
Make End of Season Purchases
The best deals on landscape plants and supplies can be had at the end of growing season. Late summer and early fall are best times to purchase shrubs, trees and perennial plants. You may even be able to find deals on mulch and soil before the first snow flies!
Just make sure the plants you purchase in the fall will be hardy enough to make it through the winter months. Most trees and shrubs do best when planted in the fall—this gives them time to establish a good root system before the heat of the summer.
Quick Tips for Budget Landscaping
1. Make an Inspiration File: Just as you would prepare for an interior decorating project, look through magazines and websites for ideas that will inspire your landscape design. Clip and print photos and make a file to refer to before you begin work.
2. Research: Consult with local colleges and county extension agents when planning your landscape. Their free advice may prevent costly mistakes! Don’t forget to check the library and reputable websites for valuable gardening information.
3. Comparison Shop: Don’t buy plants and supplies at the first place you stop. Check with a variety of local nurseries, garden and home centers before making your purchases. Prices and quality can vary greatly from one to another.
4. Keep Emotions in Check: Don’t get suckered into buying colorful exotic plants just because they remind you of your Hawaiian vacation. Be realistic and make sure the plants you choose make sense for your growing zone.
5. Buy Used: You’d be surprise at the gardening deals you can find at garage and estate sales. Not only can you purchase tools and basic supplies, you can even score plants on occasion!
6. Avoid Overplanting: When planning where and how much to plant, keep in mind mature plant sizes. Don’t make the mistake thinking every square inch of your beds must be covered in plants. If you do, you’ll be removing and transplanting overcrowded plants next season!
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Linda Chechar