Nothing takes the fun out of a project than spending too much money and the end result got lost along the way. Landscape projects can quickly get out of hand in costs and size. Realistic plans that are doable are more likely not to break the bank.
1) This is the planning part of the project. Collect pictures of outdoor spaces that may work in your landscape. Many times a professional landscape designer can actually save your money.
A design plan by a professional may have an upfront expense, but avoiding a costly do-over down the road is worth this added step. Occasionally, I have had customers come to the garden center with photos of a space they are thinking of improving in their yard. This is a great way to get an idea of plant sizes, colors, and costs. Suggestions on plant spacing and maturity sizes can eliminate some experiences like these.
2) Realistic projects also help spread out the cost of an entire landscape project over several seasons. Do-it-yourself projects may seem like a good option, but many mistakes and trips to the home improvement store can end up costing us in time and money. Hiring professionals for irrigation, or cement work is a good investment. Electrical outlets done wrong are annoying at best, and dangerous if done wrong.
3) Sowing seeds instead of buying plants is another money saving step. Certainly by starting seeds in small starter pots ahead of sowing them outdoors can be easily done in a sunny windowsill. Direct seeding in beds can generate dozens of plants in a short period of time.
4) Buying plants in small sizes can save money over buying larger potted sizes. A quart perennial is cheaper than a gallon perennial. Growers can charge less for the smaller quart sizes because they have less material used in the process. Less soil, less containers, - and more smaller containers can be shipped, reducing fuel cost for transportation.
5) In a similar thought, purchasing perennials rather than flats of annuals can save money. The very fact that annuals need to be replaced ‘annually’ is the key. And a border of perennials can be just as colorful when bloom times are staggered, and plants with colorful foliage are chosen.
6) Perennials are plants that live at least three seasons. Most live much longer. As the second or third season comes around, perennials are easily divided, offering the landscape a new plant with no cost. I recently divided Hosta, 'Lime Delight'. One clump gave me six root sections that I have spread around the garden to fill in black spaces. Now that’s saving money!
I have picked up plants on the cheap at Garden Club plant sales, garage sales, and plant association sales like the Miami Valley Hosta Society is having Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Buying plants in this manner gives a chance to talk to the folks who grew the plant in your area.
7) Compost is another great way to save money in the landscape. No fertilizer bags to lug home from the store with that plastic packaging to dispose of in the trash. Compost provides great organic material with no fuel cost to bring it to your home, no processing costs at a manufacturing facility, and no chemicals to harm the soil, or leach into waterways.
At $3 per bag for trash haulers to remove grass clippings, it seems more economical to use a mulch mower and let grass clipping stay in the lawn. This added organic matter is the same as one application of fertilizer – at not cost to the homeowner.
8) Less lawn can save money too. If we can save on gasoline to mow, less water used to keep lawns green, and less herbicides and insecticides are needed, money savings can definitely add up.
9) Native plants, whether perennials, shrubs, or trees can save money long term in the landscape. Native plants do not need to be babied with added fertilizer, excessive water, or pesticides. Once established, native plants are quite pretty, and easy on the budget.
10) One last tip on saving money in the landscape is to plan to purchase trees, shrubs, and perennials in the ‘off season’. Many bargains can be found at garden centers and through landscapers in the fall and early winter. Many of these folks do not want to store the plant material over the winter and are willing to offer great deals to the public. As long as the ground is not frozen solid, trees and shrubs can be planted into winter. Perennials may need time to get established before really cold temperatures arrive, so plan to pick perennials up in late summer and early fall to allow roots to take hold for best results.
Planning landscape projects can save money. Costly mistakes occur when we start a project that is too big and too complicated.
Consider what we bring in in terms of cost – soils, mulches, plants, cost of transportation, maintenance equipment needed.
Then be diligent in what the landscape produces as yard waste and disposal of leaves. Recycle yard debris and eliminate fuel costs of having it hauled away, and gain the added benefit of great organic material for the next seasons to come.
What thrifty practices do you incorporate in your landscape?