Landscaping on a Budget

Many people say that the beauty of a well-landscaped home is priceless. However, homeowners might argue that beautiful landscaping is anything but priceless. Buying plants, maintaining a yard, and showcasing unique planters can-and will-take a slice out of anyone’s pocket book. But landscaping doesn’t need to break the bank. With a little patience, some creativity, and a little ingenuity, even those on a tight budget can create a beautiful, landscaped yard. Yes, landscaping on a budget is possible.

Lawns

If beautiful plants and trees are the paint, then luscious green lawns are the canvas. As such, lawns are the largest feature of your landscape, so treat them well. Don’t be intimidated if your neighbor spends hundreds of dollars each season on lawn care service.

Today, home improvement stores offer a wide variety of weed-and-feed granules and sprays. At approximately $15-$25 a treatment, you won’t spend more than $150 a year fertilizing and treating your lawn-compared to the $400 your neighbor is likely to spend in the summer months alone. As an added bonus, most packaging on weed-and-feed products provides you with directions for how-and when-to treat your lawn. Even the most inexperienced gardener should have no problem maintaining a beautiful yard.

Does your lawn need to be aerated or power-raked annually? You still don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for a professional. Many rental centers rent power-rakes and aerators for as little as $40 dollars a day. If you want to save even more money, ask a neighbor to split the cost and share the equipment.

Trees

� Discount Stores
Are you looking to add trees to your landscaping, but are put off by the high prices? First, realize that buying a mature tree is much more expensive than buying a younger, less established one. Second, if you’re looking for a fairly common tree, don’t be afraid to scout local discount stores and home-improvement stores for healthy specimens. Mass marketers usually offer healthy trees at a fraction of the cost of nurseries. In addition, most stores also offer one-year guarantees on all nursery products. Hold on to your receipt. If the tree dies, then simply return to the store for a full refund or a replacement.

� Sales
If finding an affordable tree for your yard is still out of reach, consider waiting until fall. Most retailers deeply discount their trees in fall to clear out their nurseries for winter. Often, healthy trees can be purchased for up to 75% off of their original price. Ironically, fall is the best time to plant trees, so you’ll be doing your pocket book-and your tree-a favor. Just make sure to pick a healthy specimen, as trees left in the store until fall can be a little stressed. And even if your tree is not in the best of shape, you still have your one-year guarantee. It’s a win-win deal!

Flowers, Shrubs, Etc�

Like trees, many flowers and shrubs can be purchased rather inexpensively at local home improvement and discount stores. But what if that isn’t good enough? Never worry, there are even more ways to save on plants for your yard!

� More Sales!
As with trees, don’t be afraid to shop end-of-season sales-especially perennials, as they will bloom again the following year. These plants may need a little extra TLC, but are well worth it when you are paying literally pennies on the dollar. For example, a medium-sized mum at a local home improvement store might sell for $15 during the regular season. Wait until the season is over, though, and you could get it for as little as $1. Granted, the plant will look a little haggard-but with a little attention it will blossom in time for the next growing season.

� Splitting
Many plants can be split apart when they get large enough. Once split, you now have another plant to place into your landscaping. This offers an inexpensive way to add more plants without adding more dollars. In addition, splitting overgrown plants helps maintain a healthy garden, ensuring that your plants will look better and grow faster. Ask your nursery specialist which plants grow and split well. Purchasing plants that grow quickly and split well can save you money in the long run-you just have to be patient. Some plants that split well are:

Hostas
Day Lilies
Mums
Sedum
Ornamental Grasses
Lantana

� Sharing
Does your neighbor have some ornamental grass you like, but can’t afford? Don’t be afraid to ask for a small clump. In exchange you could offer your neighbor some clippings of a few of your own plants. Gardeners love to exchange plants and ideas, so never be afraid to offer a plant exchange.

� Creativity
Next time you eat pineapple, save the top and plant it (check with your local nursery to see if you live an appropriate zone)! First, place the pineapple top in a jar of water-like you would an avocado pit, with toothpicks holding it up-and wait for roots to appear. Once the pineapple has a good root system, you can transplant it outside to a sunny, warm location. Not only will it produce a lovely plant, but you’ll be able to enjoy juicy pineapple within two years.

Pineapple is just one example of the many fruits and vegetables that can be used inexpensively for landscaping. The key is to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things. And if your idea flops, you won’t be any poorer.

� Freebies
Does your utility company send you a packet of seeds every spring? Don’t throw them out, plant them! If your mother gave you a potted Easter Lily on your birthday, plant the bulb after the plant dies. Next year you’ll have your own beautiful lily gracing your landscaping. Likewise, many people give rosemary plants at Christmastime. These plants are a hardy evergreen that make a wonderful, fragrant addition to any landscaping motif. Simply keep the rosemary healthy until spring, and then transplant outdoors.

Landscaping Accessories

Nothing makes landscaping more personalized and unique than the planters, birdbaths, and ornamental accessories that gardeners add. But for the frugal landscaper, finding beautiful terra cotta planters and granite birdbaths at a low-cost can be impossible. However, coming up with creative ways to duplicate your favorite landscaping looks is not.

It goes without saying that end-of-season sales are the best way to find good prices on landscaping accessories. Beyond sales, though, there are other ways to tastefully decorate your landscaping on a budget.

� Copy Cats
If you love the look of concrete planters and birdbaths, but don’t want to spend a lot, buy inexpensive plastic accessories and paint them to look like the concrete pieces you love. Today, home improvement stores offer spray paints that easily replicate the look of stone, granite, terra cotta, and marble. For just $6, you can transform a large $5 plastic pot into a granite urn or a terra cotta planter that would do any patio justice. Or, if you have old mismatched planters, give them all a unified look by painting them in a matching texture. You’ll have planters that look as if they were custom-designed for your space-in your unique taste.

âÂ?¢ One Man’s Trash
Sure, it’s an old saying, but one with merit. Never be afraid to use old, unconventional items in your landscaping. For example, an old claw foot bathtub may be too beat up for the bathroom, but might make a wonderful landscape centerpiece. Old buckets, wheel barrows, baskets, and other “trash” often make the best-and least expensive-garden additions.

Without a doubt, maintaining a healthy yard and beautiful plants is one of the best ways to showcase your home and your unique style. With a little creativity and some patience, anyone can create a landscape that is the envy of the neighborhood. Yes, landscaping on a budget is the only way to ensure that your creation really is “priceless.”

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