The following is a guest post.
You want to create a beautiful lawn and garden, but how can you maintain your landscaping on a budget? Designing and growing the perfect lawn takes patience, hard work and thrift. These five tips will help you create charming, affordable landscaping for your home.
1. Look for the freebies: The best way to save is to look for free plants. Choose plants that can be easily divided, like hostas, day lilies, myrtle or ajuga. Then, you can divide and space them out throughout your yard and trade with friends or neighbors, so you get a variety of new free plants. You could even host a garden party where everyone brings a plant to trade instead of a dish to pass!
Cuttings are another way to get free plants. Take cuttings from privet, weigela, azaleas, butterfly bushes or hydrangeas, strip away the leaves, and place the cutting in a pot or your garden with dappled sunlight and plenty of compost. You can transplant them at the end of the year or plant them where you ultimately want them.
Free plants aren’t the only way to save – check with your town to see if you can get free mulch. Most municipalities mulch up any branches or trees that have to be cut down and have piles for free. Some gardeners might stay away from this mulch because you don’t know what could grow from it. If you find yourself with some free plants sprouting through your mulch, look them up. You could have apples, crab apples or pines you didn’t have to pay for!
2. Know when to buy: When you’re gardening on a budget, every dollar you can save counts. Most people buy plants at the beginning of the season when their green thumb starts throbbing, but you can find great savings if you buy at the end of the season. And fall is a great time for planting! You can also save on marked-down bags of potting soil. If there’s a brand you like, keep your eyes peeled for punctured or damaged bags. A great tip for landscaping on a budget is to stretch this potting mix by mixing it with your own compost before you spread it.
3. Know what to buy: Purchase perennials instead of annuals as annuals die every year. Annuals can spruce up a space, but you don’t want to have too many of them in your garden or you’ll be buying new plants every year. Be sure you also choose plants that will flourish in your soil and shade conditions, as a poorly placed plant could be a waste of money.
4. Be patient: This can be one of the most important elements of landscaping on a budget. Mature plants are often more expensive because gardeners want a higher hedgerow or don’t want to deal with a sapling. But if you have patience, you can buy smaller plants at a lower price and wait for them to grow. If they start to get bigger than you like, move them to the perimeter of your lawn for privacy, or cut them back and brighten up the area with perennials.
5. Reduce, reuse, recycle: Affordable landscaping starts with reusing what you already have:
- Add nutrients to the soil with a compost bin in your garden and newsprint as an underlayment when putting down mulch
- Spread wood ashes around the base of your plants as slug repellant
- Don’t put your Christmas tree on the curb – cut it up and use the branches to cover fragile plants in wintertime
- Use pinecones to make great mulch
- Create a rainwater collection system to water your lawn and lower your water bill
Maintain your tools when landscaping on a budget
When gardening on a budget, you don’t need a lot of expensive tools. Proper maintenance of your tools and parts will keep them in good condition for many years. A string trimmer, reliable mower and small garden tiller can help you with most of your landscaping projects. Keep your lawn mower blades sharp to save time mowing and improve the health of your lawn (sharp blades allow grass to recover quickly after being cut). You should sharpen the blade twice each season and replace it every one to three years. Be sure to check trimmer, mower and tiller parts at the beginning and end of every season to maintain performance.