Money-Saving Landscaping Ideas

Posted on: 16th August 2013

Yard transformation is something we usually leave to the experts. Traditional thinking says you should expect to pay anywhere from 5% to 15% of your home's value on landscaping. And most of the time, decorating and design of the yard is often overlooked in favour of decorating and design on the interior of the home.


But if you really the outdoors, think about it this way: Decorating and design in the field of landscape is just a few steps away from killing two birds with one stone. Want to landscape your yard so it looks very nice? Sure, go ahead. But follow these ideas to the letter and you win a bonus: saving money.


  1. Prioritise soil and greeneries.

Get the most visual bang for your buck: First of all, realize that budget gardening can still be beautiful. Let's say you've got less than $1,000 to spend. The first things you should focus on are improving your soil and adding trees. You can spend $500 on plants, but they're not going to grow in clay or sand. Amend your soil with compost and other ingredients to improve its quality. Buying soil, in comparison, can cost as much as $27 a yard plus delivery.


  1. Take advantage of freebies.

Cities often give away free trees, mulch and compost. Demolition sites are great sources for bricks and stones, but make sure you have permission to remove them. And if you see something you like in a neighbour’s yard? Offer to trade cuttings. Also, set up seed exchanges with other gardeners.


  1. Avoid costly mistakes.

Really think about how you're going to use your outdoor space. If you plan a water feature but are annoyed by the noise of babbling brooks, you’re going to spend more money ripping it out and replacing it with something else later.  Take the time to educate yourself and you'll avoid common pitfalls such as planting a tree too close to your house.


  1. Learn to strategize. Proper landscaping can help you save on air conditioning operation. A big, healthy shade tree can provide roughly the cooling potential of 10 room-size air conditioner units running for as much as 20 hours per day. Shade trees have to be in the correct location for the best effect though. As for your air conditioner itself, you can improve its efficiency by 10%, just by planting a tree or bush that shades the unit.


  1. Work with what you have.

Preserving existing plants and trees can help you save the cost, materials and resources needed to establish a new planting. Educate yourself about plant care and pruning. Similarly, knowing which areas in your yard are flood-prone and which are always in the sun can help you buy the right plants for the right conditions. Some areas might be better for swing sets or patios.


Money-Saving Landscaping Ideas

  1. Forego professionals.

The best way to save money in landscaping is to do as much work as possible yourself. Landscaping professionals can double the price you intend to allocate, say, for a 3-gallon bush. A $3-to-$4 perennial will cost about $12 installed.


  1. Know when to hire the pros.

There are times when it makes sense to hire a pro. Get help for jobs that take more muscle or design skill than you have, such as creating hardscapes, while you take on more manageable tasks such as planting small shrubs and perennials. When using pros, try to get a packaged deal: Check out nurseries that offer landscaping services. Many will offer discounts on plant material to their landscaping customers.


  1. Take advantage of the space to grown a garden. Even those with not much lawn space can still carve out a little patch to grow food. Not only does a vegetable garden give your yard some nice colour, it also provides you with sustenance. Home-grown vegetables and fruits are fresher than those bought even at the closest local farmer's market. A good garden offers twice the nice: it makes your yard look vital and organically attuned with the home and it provides you with the makings of a delicious meal. A delicious meal infinitely less expensive than what the same meal would cost at a restaurant.


  1. Buy in season.

Time your purchases when retailers want to be rid of their trees, shrubs, perennials, soil and mulch. Depending on your region, wait for the right time for planting because it gives the plant time to develop roots before the summer heat arrives.


  1. Purchase small-sized plants.

Depending on the species, the smaller plants could double in size in two years, giving you more plant for your money. Make sure you have an appropriate spot for a plant before you purchase it. Otherwise, you may end up watching it die.


  1. Protect foundations

Roots can damage concrete blocks, driveways and sidewalks, so plant large trees at least 30 feet from those areas.


  1. Use yard waste and scraps for fertilizers.

Save money on fertilizers and mulch by composting your own, using yard waste and food scraps. Compost piles can be made of recycled 2 x 4s and chicken wire. All you need is access to the pile and enough space to turn it every now and again. You'll pay as much as $5 per small bag of compost at your local home improvement store.


  1. Set a budget for maintenance.

A large lawn is great if you don't mind mowing. But if paying a yard guy $50 a week is part of your plan, make sure that goes into your budget.




  1. Eliminate water worries.

Outdoor water use constitutes almost 20% of total home water use. Look for plants that are drought-tolerant to save on your water bill. Then again, if you live in a climate where rainfall happens, Mother Nature will find a way to put water where you don't want it. Proper grading, correctly positioned downspouts and drains, and other factors all change the way water flows through and around your yard. In order to control water, observe your yard before, during, and after a rain shower. Notice any areas where runoff-related erosion is a problem. And then develop your terrain plan accordingly.


  1. Add exterior lighting. Outdoor lighting throws illumination on all the hard work you have put elsewhere into making your yard look so inviting. Add a few carefully and precisely placed motion-sensing lamps among the lighting that throw dramatic relief upon your landscape and you will go a long way toward scaring off potential burglars, thieves and home invaders. The investment of exterior lighting is far less expensive than a burglar alarm system. Prevention of intent is far more efficient than relying on external support to arrive after the fact.


Finally, be patient. Enjoy the process — and the money you saved.

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