Landscaping for Less

by David Ning · 8 comments

The best way to save money with landscaping is to invest some sweat equity in the project. Doing it yourself will save you money and give you a general feeling of satisfaction. While the thought of moving your own trees around the yard may be intimidating, a little know how will go a long way.

Plan Ahead

Steps like improving poor soil or arranging good drainage are best done before you put in new plants. Having your sprinkler system in place to match the design you want will save you money as well as hassle. Evaluate your yard and draw out a plan of where you want to place each bush and tree. Organize any beds you want and select plants with similar growing needs to be placed next to one another. Shop around for the plants you want and if you can negotiate a bulk discount, get them at one location so you save on delivery fees.

Look for Free or Cheap Supplies

Many cities offer free mulch and trees as part of their beautification plans, especially for new developments. Contact your city and find out if they have either available before you spend your money. You can get bricks and lumber from construction sites if an old house is being torn down, but get permission first.

Purchasing in the late fall, before the soil hardens, is a great time to pick up trees and shrubs. Nurseries are trying to get rid of their inventory before the cold weather causes everything to go dormant or gets damaged while out of the ground. You can often get some great bargains with a little effort. Just make sure you get the plants in the ground quickly.

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

I love bulbs. I plant them once and they come up over and over again each year. In my first home I planted about $20 worth of bulbs each fall and by the time I left the house ten years later I had hundreds of bulbs planted in bed around the yard. By grouping together bulbs that bloomed at different times with differing heights I had an endless supply of color all around my home. Big home improvement stores generally have great bulb selections in the fall and spring.

Minimize Your Lawn

Not only is lawn labor intensive once planted, it is expensive to maintain. If you have young children that play outdoors, keep an area of the yard grassy for that play structure and games of tag; beyond that think flower beds, rock gardens and paths. Watering takes a great deal of water, especially in dry climates, which raises your expenses. Mowing, weeding, fertilizing, and trimming all take time and effort better spent playing with your kids or just relaxing.

Break It Up

Plan to complete your project in phases. Not only does this mean you can do the work as you can afford it, it lets you see how you like your changes gradually. Even a small scale landscaping project can cost over $1000, and the prices will just go up the more work you do. Pick a section of your yard to work on each year and soon you will have the yard you always dreamed of, without breaking the bank.

This is a post taken from the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Get yours and learn more here.

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  • Jay B. says:

    To do the landscaping should be some kind of relax for you. So, if you have enough time and enthusiasm nothing can stop you. Of course, if you have some extra budget, you can call professionals, but if not, you can easily do everything by yourself. That effort you will put into the project will come back to you in thousand times.

  • CreditShout says:

    Using wood in the wintertime from trees that you cut down is a great way to save money. Planting bulbs instead of flowers that won’t make it through the cold months is also great. I don’t mind paying a neighborhood kid twenty bucks to mow my lawn though. I feel good about helping a teenager out and I can enjoy my lawn without being out there in the hundred degree weather.

  • Cd Phi says:

    Well this doesn’t directly involve landscaping but is related to looking for free/cheap supplies. Yesterday we had a bbq for 4th of July and we got free firewood from neighbors down the street which is totally great because a bundle of wood does not come cheap.

  • Generally speaking, when you can do things yourself, it will save you money unless you really hose something up. You are relatively safe taking on a task like landscaping.

    If you do not have a creative spirit, drive around you neighborhood and check out what some of the other houses have done. Take pictures for reference. That way you can even see what plants do well in your area.

  • Our council gives away as much free mulch as you can carry . Coffee grounds i’ve found are a really great free fertalizer, lots of starbucks bag them up to give away because it’s cheaper that paying for waste disposal.

    You can generally get “clean fill” from houses building pools.

    On the lawn issue. I’ve found that they’re really quite hard wearing and don’t need any water if you leave it about 10cm long. Then it acts as it’s own mulch. Personally i feel lawns important as it gives the kids something soft to fall on.

  • Tracy says:

    Another thought for free or very cheap plants and landscaping materials is to check Freecycle and Craigslist. We bought a house with an absolutely gorgeous back garden but it just doesn’t work for a family with small children so we’re given quite a bit of it away for free to anyone who could come and get it. Not just plants but rocks for making borders and wooden frames, too.

    Totally agree on the lawns. That’s one of the reasons I bought a house a small lot in the city so we wouldn’t have to put in the work and money to maintain a huge manicured front lawn that nobody ever plays on.

  • I tried doing it myself a couple times, and it went only OK over the past 5 years.

    Finally a couple months ago, I went on Craigslist and hired a professional and the quality is NIGHT and DAY. It was worth the $2,100 for me, as he re-did everything, cleaned the yard up, got the materials, and re-shaped.

    $2,100 may or may sound like a lot, but I was thinking of spending $8,000, so it’s all relative.

    • MoneyNing says:

      As long as you can afford it and you are happy, then it’s worth every penny. Though from what I’ve heard, your numbers are quite high, a landscaper will charge you based on what is actually planted as well as the size of your yard, how nice they believe your house is when they get here etc (sorry, the last point sounds unethical but after buying my house, I noticed that almost everybody names a price based on where you live).

      Another thing. Since they are charging you $2,100 to redo everything, it may make sense to pay something to come regularly to keep your garden up so it’s doesn’t need the multi-thousand dollar refreshes every few months.

      Of course, you get a complete new look whenever they come though and that may be what you are after.

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