It’s that time of year again. The robins are singing, the trees are full of leaves and the flowers are finally in bloom after the long winter. Does this time of year leave you feeling anxious on how you’ll afford the kind of yard that will make you proud? If so, here are some great tips on how to landscape your yard for less.
How to Landscape Your Yard For Less
Have a Plan
Just as you would with any interior renovation, draw out plans of your vision for your yard. Do your homework on what kinds of plants, flowers, and shrubs do best with the lighting you have. Design your yard based on the color scheme you want to have and what times of year your plants may bloom. Having a clear plan before you get started will help you to avoid losing plants due to inappropriate placement in the yard (meaning having to purchase and plant things all over again).
Not sure how to get started with making your plans? As you would with making plans for new construction on your home, use drafting paper to draw out the vision that you have for your garden. Make sure to include the square footage of your yard, preexisting bushes and shrubs that you plan to keep, and any sheds or swing sets that you have.
Once you have your yard drawn out on paper, begin adding each component that you have in mind. Even if your initial draft simply says “perennials,” include all placements of flowers that you have pictured. As you develop your gardens, keep in mind that maintenance will be easier if you keep each type of flower together. You may choose, for example, to have a rose garden, another garden for veggies and a third for wild flowers. Being that each type of plant requires different care, you’ll thank yourself later for not mixing different kinds of plants.
Plant Gardens that Last
As you plan your yard, consider evergreen shrubs that require little maintenance beyond trimming. Different varieties of shrubs will provide different shades of green, making for diverse colors in your yard. While the initial cost of these bushes may be greater, they will likely be in your yard for years to come.
In choosing flowering plants, think about selecting perennials. Once planted, with proper care they will return each year to help you welcome the warmer months. This makes for less work, as well as less expense in the long run.
Leave the Annuals for Baskets
Do you have some favorite annuals that you can’t imagine not having in your yard? Have you always had impatiens or marigolds? Purchasing or planting annuals in hanging baskets to hang on your house or garage will give you additional bursts of color without putting the resources into having to replant your garden each spring.
If you don’t have the ability to hang baskets on your home, you may also choose to place sheppard’s hooks (tall iron hooks) in your garden. These are also great places to hang baskets, bird feeders, etc. without having to add hooks for hanging onto your home.
As you’re looking at purchasing your shrubs, flowers, and other plants, look at sales that are going on at stores near you. Larger hardware stores often have better values and greater variety, though smaller nurseries often provide hearty plants and more guidance from the staff. Consider what your priorities are in making your purchases and go to the garden center that best meets your personal needs. The best way to determine which shop is right for you is by window shopping before committing to your purchases.
Another budget-friendly way to purchase seeds and bulbs is through online nurseries. Many such companies specialize in shipping your garden supplies to you in a way that will make sure that they are in good condition when they arrive, while offering better value than many local stores.
You Can Do It!
We can all relate to the lawn care companies that ring your doorbell to share with you the sad state of your lawn or garden. Never fear, you can fix those problems! Online videos and hardware store tutorials will help you learn to treat your crabgrass, weeds, and patchy lawns without the help of the costly lawn care professionals. A little bit of DIY will help you to have that perfect lawn that you desire.
Skip the Costly Chemicals
A trip to the lawn and garden section of the hardware store can be a lot to handle with all of the varieties of weed killers and insect repellents. You know that you need to solve these problems, but want to do it in a way that keeps your family safe and is budget-friendly. A quick online search will reveal dozens of natural remedies for these common problems, often using ingredients that you already have at home (such as dish soap, baking soda, essential oils, etc.) Making your own lawn care remedies will not only be easier on the pocketbook, but will also give you piece of mind when your children want to go play outside.
Use your Own Seeds
In the first year of your landscaping, you will need to spend the money on new plants and bulbs to make your garden look as you imagine. After that initial year, however, you can harvest your own annuals and vegetable seeds for the next year.
As your plants’ blooms begin to fade, simply pull the seeds from the flower and preserve them for next year. Then, at the beginning of the following spring, plant your seeds in pots to be grown indoors (under a heat lamp for fastest results) and then transplant to your garden when the weather has warmed up. As you get ready to plant your seeds, you may want to consider biodegradable pots that can be planted with your plants in the ground. They make for easy planting and greatest likelihood of your plants’ survival.
Not sure how to best preserve your flowers and vegetables seeds? An online search can lead you to step by step directions on how to harvest yours to use the following year for the particular plant you’re saving.
Add Pops of Color that Last
If you’re not sure about adding flowers whose blooms will fade throughout the year, there are other ways to add consistent color to your yard. Sun catchers, bird baths, and wind chimes are other great ways to add new dimensions to your yard with minimal expense. If placed in a safe place at the end of the season, each of these yard décor pieces can be reused from year to year rather than needing to be replaced (as is the case with many varieties of flowers).
Do It Yourself Stepping Stones
Do your plans include a stepping stone walkway through your yard? If so, you can make them yourself. For the cost of a bag of concrete and a few decorations, you can mix the concrete, pour the stones in any shape you like (you may want to use a template for a consistent shape) and place gems, beads and more into each of the stepping stones. This is a great activity to get the family involved in as you design this unique part of your yard.
You can also usually find stepping stones on Craigslist locally. Many people are ripping out or remodeling their gardens and yards and you can purchase them online for a fraction of the price.
Maintain Your Landscaping
One key to low-budget landscaping is taking care of your yard. By weeding regularly, mowing and fertilizing the lawn, and trimming shrubs, you’re helping to ensure that your yard looks great without having to enlist the help of professionals.
Prepare your yard for the winter months by covering rose bushes and pruning back your plants and flowers. These simple steps will help to make sure that your landscaping continues to be beautiful from one year to the next.
Hang onto Those Yard Tools
As is the case with any industry, there will always be bigger tools with more features that you’ll see when you head to the hardware store. Rather than feeling the need to always have the biggest and best tools, think about those that you do have. Have they worked for you in the past? Are they still working for you effectively? Then perhaps it’s not time to spend the money to replace those that you have. Get as much life out of the tools that you have before deciding to replace them.
…But Don’t Wait Until You’re Desperate!
If you live in an area known for its winter weather and your snow blower was on its last legs last year, it may not be best to wait for the first blizzard of the season to replace it. Similarly, holding off until your grass is twice as long as it should be isn’t the best time look for a new lawn mower. If you know that you need to replace landscaping tools, it’s best to give yourself time to search for new ones.
When looking for new tools, think about the features that you need for your yard. Do you need a riding mower, or would a push mower be more suited for your yard? Do you feel as though pushing a mower is something you can do, or would a self-propelled mower be more your style? As you look for new yard tools, look for a combination of features and value. By making the most educated purchase initially, it will save you the money of having to replace your new tool with what you should have gotten in the first place.
In short, don’t wait until you have no choice but to make a purchase. Make it early enough that you have time to make a well thought out decision and can find sale prices.
So Much Stuff!
With all that you need to keep your yard looking great: a lawn mower, rakes, gardening tools, etc., are you running out of space to keep it all? Rather than spending the money to have a large shed built, there are many lower-cost options available that look just as good at a fraction of the cost. A quick look at a hardware store will reveal sheds made of resin, plastic, etc. that won’t rot over time and will keep all of your landscaping tools in good condition.
In choosing a shed, think about the goals that you have. Are you thinking of a small place to keep your tools? A store-bought one should work. If, however, you see it as a place for kids to play or are looking for it to have multiple levels, constructing it from wood will be more the style for you.
Again, always check Craigslist. Sheds generally go for about $100-$150 on Craigslist in my area, whereas at the local hardware stores, they are upwards of $500-$800. If you don’t have a truck, you can rent one or sometimes the seller will be willing to deliver for a gas fee.
Do Your Homework
As mentioned earlier, there is no one single way to best take care of your landscaping. Each kind of plant or shrub needs different care to keep it looking its best. As you plan the layout of your yard, do your homework on how to best care for each plant. Improper care will lead to plants that need to be replaced…and more money needing to be spent.
Not sure how to best care for your yard? Visit a local nursery, garden center, or arboretum and ask an expert on proper care for a variety of plants. If you aren’t able to get the answers that you need (or are lacking the time for a personal visit) online searches may lead you to the information that you are looking for. Make sure, however, that in your search you access professional nursery organizational information rather than a less-credible website.
Know Your Limits
After you’ve planned your landscaping (and carried out your plans), are you still feeling as though your yards aren’t quite where you’d like them to be? Though paying for professional guidance may seem counter-intuitive when looking to save money, getting advice may help save you the expense of costly mistakes.
If you find your yard infested with pests (and your efforts haven’t made it any better,) you’re running into drainage issues, or you’re not quite sure why your bushes aren’t looking so good, it may be time to call someone who can help.