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When Mike and I moved from our house with a postage stamp sized yard to an overgrown half acre we didn’t realize what we were getting into. Our yard is a corner lot and it’s very exposed since we are right next to a walking/bike path which gets tons of traffic from the neighbors. We basically don’t have back yard. It’s all front and side yard. To top off the awkward layout the yard was very overgrown with 7 large garden beds plus a huge vegetable garden to tend to. We had big plans for the yard but it was competing with inside priorities to we had to be smart and learn how to save money on landscaping.
After our second year and third summer we are finally getting the yard in shape. I still have big dollar dreams for what I wish we could do but for know we are playing it smart and keeping the yard as budget friendly as possible. I try to appreciate what we’ve got like a huge front yard that is great for soccer and t-ball games. A huge vegetable garden that is basically a dream come true for this gardener. And also plenty of bugs, toads, birds and other wildlife that a curious four year old loves to interact with.
I’ve got some great tips I have used for how to save money on landscaping to help you keep your budget in check and still have a beautiful yard.
Divide Larger Perennials
We had some very mature perennials already on the property. By dividing them with a shovel we could double, triple or quadruple the amount of plants we have. Depending on the size of your perennial determine how many pieces you want. Then slice it with a shovel and dig up to divide.
Some great candidates for this include hostas, siberian lillies, autumn joy sedum, black eyed susan and day lillies. The best time to do this is in the spring when perennials are first coming up or in the fall right before they go dormant. The spring is my favorite time because the ground is very soft and it rains pretty frequently in Northeast Ohio. This cuts down on my watering time. The fall is also great but only when the ground is soft. Last year we had a particularly dry summer and fall and the ground was like a rock so I didn’t get any fall transplanting in. You can still divide and transplant in the middle of the summer but you will find yourself attached at the hip with your hose to keep your plants well watered.
Ask Friends and Family for Perennials
Most gardeners are happy to share their plants with you. I like to trade plants with my mom. She takes care of the grounds at her condo complex and has tons of perennials that she is happy to divide and exchange for the ones I have been moving around at my house. Walk the gardens of friends and family and ask if they would divide some of their more mature plants. People are usually eager to find someone to give unwanted plants too. Plants that spread are usually great for sharing like black eyed susan or shasta daisy.
All plants grow so starting small saves you money. You don’t get instant gratification but in 1-3 years most perennials will double or triple in size. This goes for shrubs too. Read the tags to see what the growth habit is to know how much space you need then choose a smaller size to save one third to half off or more on your plants. Sometimes the smaller size is almost as big as the more expensive size. We bought a rhododendron at the store for $17 that was nice and tall. The next size up was the same height only a little bushier and it was $60!
Check Out Big Box Hardware Stores Early
Early in the season Lowes and Home Depot have a great selection of trees, shrubs and perennials for much cheaper than garden centers. There is still a selection later in the summer but there tends to be less options. I like to check the bargain area of Lowes later in the season for less than beautiful perennials that need a little love for a dollar or two. Early in the season everything is fresh from the grower and we have found a great selection of all the plants we were looking for. Check out more than one location as well. We found the Lowes on the other side of town has a better garden center than the one we usually prefer to shop at. Also we shopped at both Lowes and Home Depot to expand our choices.
Do the Work Yourself
This one might be a no brainer but if you can dig, plant and mulch yourself you will save a ton of money on labor and design fees. We have had a couple of quotes from landscapers but just couldn’t stomach the price. Enlist some friends and family to help if you need to. Find a neighbor or babysitter to help with the kids so you can focus on the garden.
Start from Seed
There are some flowers that grow very easily from seed. Perennials like black eyed susan, bee balm, coreopsis and shasta daily are all great choices to throw some seed in the garden and watch it grow. There are some annuals that are easy to grow too like cosmos and sunflowers. You can either start them in a smaller container and transplant or just sow the seeds right in the garden. It takes some time but some perennial flowers will bloom in the first season. Which leads right into the next tip.
When it comes to landscaping the key word here is patience. Patience for your plants to grow. Patience to wait until next year to buy more plants, redo a bed, add a patio or deck. Landscaping is expensive and by working on your yard in phases you can stretch out your budget. I have dreams for everything I want to do in the yard but I am realistic with what makes sense now with all the other priorities and what I can wait on until next year. Having a 3-5 year plan for our yard helps to keep my ideas in check. Keeping these tips in mind helps to save money on landscaping and create a beautiful yard we will enjoy for years to come.
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