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The average cost of landscaping is over $3,000. That cost can fluctuate significantly depending on the materials you choose and the size of your yard.
What if I told you that you could, at the least, cut your landscaping costs in half this year? Spring is just around the corner and it’s time to start planning your spring landscape.
That doesn’t mean you should have to spend thousands of dollars, or anywhere close to that.
The trick is to know where you can save money and how. Doing most of the work yourself can save thousands alone on labor costs.
There are also ways to save money on materials and maintaining your landscape that can put more money back in your pocket over the life of your lawn.
1. Research and Plan
Before you get too ahead of yourself, you should plan what you want in your landscape. Dream big here because you can always tweak your plan later. The point of this is to understand the costs involved in what you want so that you can research better cost-saving opportunities.
Once you have an idea of the materials and plants you want to use and overall look you’re going for, now it’s time to research.
Check the costs on websites and visit some local nurseries to pull together a price list. Then, do your research on money-saving alternatives to the plants and materials you wanted. You can also get some inspiration from gardening magazines and books.
Many large universities also have extensions with horticulture programs that may give you some advice for free if you make a call and also have some incredibly helpful online resources available for free.
2. Ask Your Family and Friends for Help
A couple of years ago when I wanted to do some landscaping in the front yard of my home, I called up a few friends for help. They took some of the labor off my hands – willingly – and helped me get things done faster.
It potentially saved me from paying a landscaper for hours of work to do the same job.
Utilize your network. When you get your friends and family to help, the job is a lot more fun. I’m willing to bet that, if you ask for a couple of hours of their time on a weekend, you won’t have a problem getting it. Just be there for them when they need some help too.
3. Figure Out What’s Necessary
We all want a gorgeous yard with high-end materials and an expensive look. Is that what you should do though? Probably not. The more you spend on landscaping now, the more you’ll need to pay to maintain it in most cases.
Instead of looking for what you want, search only for what you need. Most of the time, high-cost tools are far from necessary.
For example, a ride-on lawn mower is fun and all, but you won’t need it if you only have some grass in the backyard. Instead, save a small fortune and buy a push mower that doesn’t require any electricity or gas to operate.
You’ll save money not only on the mower itself but also its running costs.
Maybe you love the look of bright flowers in front of your home, but if you don’t have time to care for them, you’re wasting money. Instead, look for easy-to-grow plants, shrubs, and succulents that require little work.
4. Comparison Shop for Seeds and Plants
I bet you didn’t know that you can comparison shop for seeds and plants just like you would for clothing, household items, and even groceries, but you can!
Last year, I started a veggie garden from seeds. I wanted the best deals on buying seeds in bulk, pots, soil, etc. I went to the gardening section of Wal-Mart, some local nurseries, and browsed a few online retailers before I settled on where to buy everything.
Pots and soil were the cheapest for me at Wal-Mart and I found an excellent promotion on Burpee’s website for seeds after I signed up for its newsletter to send me deal alerts.
Check out these cash back shopping portals that can even give you money back for purchasing your landscaping supplies online from partnered stores.
5. Save Your Extras
Don’t even think about throwing away any extra seeds and soil you have from the current season. You can save this stuff for next year so there’s less to buy.
Although potting soil is typically better for plants when it’s fresh, you can still seal it up for next season to keep it as fresh as possible. Close the bag as tightly as possible and seal it with tape. Then, place the bag in a solid-colored tote with a tight-closing lid to keep dust and insects out.
You can store extra seeds in a mason jar or plastic food bags. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and humidity. The fridge is usually a good option!
6. Buy Used When Possible
You’d be surprised by how many landscaping materials you can find at yard sales, especially at the end of summer.
That’s the best time to hit the sales to find things like used tools, outdoor furniture, landscaping rocks, and even some plants and seeds. I found several small pots and planters and some path lights at one last year.
You can also check your local buying and selling Facebook groups. I often see members post listings for outdoor furniture, extra plants they didn’t need, and pavers.
You might get lucky and be able to snatch up some pavers or rocks from a few different people and mix and match them to create a unique look.
7. Buy in Bulk
When I started my vegetable garden, I saved $50 on potting soil alone by buying it in bulk. I ended up with more than I needed for that year, but I used the rest the next year after storing it correctly and it worked fine. I spent nothing at all on soil for that year!
You can do the same with mulch, rocks, and even plants if your local nursery has deals. Check with your local landscaping companies. They can sometimes bring over a big load of mulch, soil, or rocks for much less than you’d pay if you bought the bagged versions.
8. Collect Natural Materials
When I first moved into my current home several years ago, I wanted some rocks out front to line the walkway and front of the house. Then when I looked at how expensive landscaping rock could get, I nixed that idea.
Instead, I looked in my backyard, which is up against a creek. I found several rocks just sitting there waiting for me that were perfect for the job.
Use what nature provides instead of buying them. Just be sure that you’re taking things legally. Stay away from private properties and state parks. You can always call your city office and ask where might be okay to look.
9. Use Your Plants Wisely
When you consider all the costs that go into maintaining your yard once you get it looking how you want, your beautiful landscape can be expensive. Remember the planning ahead part I mentioned? That will come in handy here.
Some plants act as natural insect repellents. When you use them around your home or near a vegetable garden, you won’t have to invest in things like pesticides and insect repellents.
Here are some plants and herbs that can be valuable assets to your garden to control the insect population:
- Basil has oil that kills mosquito eggs
- Mint can repel some biting insects
- Catnip’s nepetalactone repels several bugs
- Rosemary can lower the risk of infestation
- Petunias have the power to keep beetles and aphids from attacking plants
- Lemongrass contains citronella oil, which is a powerful bug deterrent
10. Create a Low-Maintenance Landscape
Low-maintenance landscapes can not only save you money over time, but they’ll also save you a lot of time working in your yard. The idea is to simplify your landscaping by making it more manageable while still making it beautiful.
Some of these things could cost you a little more up front to do, but you’ll see the savings over the life of your landscaping.
The less you have to water your lawn, the less you’ll need to spend on watering it! A lot of homeowners are starting to use plants that require little water throughout the year, like succulents, so that they can spend less time and money on watering plants.
You can go a step further by collecting rainwater to water your plants with or set up an efficient irrigation system, which can save you about 25,000 gallons of wasted water every year.
An irrigation system is typically more expensive than a sprinkler system to install, but your non-wasted water can save you an average of $100 a year.
Have Less Green Space
To use less water, you can opt for less green space in your yard. Large lawns are gorgeous, but they also suck your time and money mowing and watering them. The average family uses about 120 gallons of water every day outside.
You can make an equally beautiful outdoor area without as much green. Make a giant sandpit for the kids to play in. Create a concrete patio or wood deck for an outdoor living space.
Use mulch in garden beds, which can help hold water in for your plants, making the watering that you do an efficient process.
You have to plant annuals every year, but perennials will come back every year if you care for them. You’ll save both time and money by planting perennial flowers and herbs like lavender, sage, and daisies.
11. Use Newspaper Instead of Landscape Fabric
Start bundling up your old newspapers now because they’ll come in handy when you’re ready to start your spring landscaping.
Using newspaper to control weeds in the garden is the perfect alternative to spending money on landscaping fabric, which can cost about $30 or more for a 100-foot roll.
You’ll need about 10 pages of newspaper for each section of your garden. Soak them in water and place them in the garden bed, making sure they overlap so that no weeds can sneak through.
Cover the newspaper with mulch, water thoroughly, and you have yourself a weed-free gardening bed for a much lower cost.
12. Plant Ground Covers
Another way to control weeds without buying landscaping fabric or weed killers is by using ground covers around your plants.
Mulch is one of the most common ground covers because it’s relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and it also retains water to keep your plants moist for longer.
Other popular ground covers include pieces of bark, wood chips, and gravel. Some ground covers are perennials that can add more color and life to your garden while keeping it low-maintenance and budget-friendly.
Sedum, salvia, and chamomile can all bring some color to your garden and prevent sneaky weeds from taking over.
13. Save Grass Clippings
If you need to buy a lawn mower, make sure it has an attachment bag that can save your grass clippings. You can recycle them to create your own mulch for the garden instead of buying more.
According to Mother Earth News, here are a few ways that you can turn grass clippings from trash to treasure in your garden:
- Layer them to create a raised bed with less compost needed
- Add to compost for an excellent nitrogen source
- Use as a mulch for the lawn
- Steep grass clippings in a water bucket to create a liquid plant feed
14. Plant Natives
Planting as many plants that are native to your area and climate as possible can use less water and will need less care to keep looking their best. They already have adapted to your weather, so they’re the most likely to thrive where you plant them.
Use the Native Plant Finder to plug in your zip code and find plants, grasses, and flowers that will require less of your money and time to keep growing.
15. Take Care of Problems Through Maintenance
Once you have your lawn and garden in place, your money-saving strategy should switch into maintenance mode. Maintaining your yard correctly can save you a lot of cash by preventing problems from getting worse before they have a chance to start.
If you took measures to prevent weeds, then you probably won’t have a lot of them popping up, but they still can. As soon as you see one, pull it before they get out of hand and require money for weed killers or redoing your garden beds.
To prevent mosquito infestations in water features, like bird baths or a fountain, you can add ¼ teaspoon of vegetable oil for every gallon of water.
Check fencing, stones, and any other non-living feature in your landscape regularly to catch small maintenance issues before they turn into large repairs.
16. Prune Religiously
Pruning your plants, shrubs, and trees regularly will naturally make them healthier and stronger. It also helps you save money because you’ll be less likely to end up with rotting, pest infestations, or dead plants you have to replace.
Try to set a weekly schedule to check on your plants and prune them back into shape.
17. Make Your Own Compost
Why buy plant foods and compost when you can make your own nourishing compost from table scraps and materials you find in nature?
The best, healthiest compost consists of both remaining food items and natural ingredients.
Better Homes & Gardens recommends using things like fruit peels, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, straw, dry leaves, and grass clippings for composting. Try to get a good mix of green and brown materials for your pile.
Once you have a giant heap gathered, you can water the pile regularly until it’s moist, but not damp. Stir it once a week to give the pile some air and allow it to decompose. Once the compost mixture turns dry and crumbly, similar to soil, you can start feeding your plants.
18. Trade Your Plants
After your garden has been successful for a few years, you’ll probably start to notice that you have more flowering perennials than you started with.
If you have any plans of making some money back you’re your garden or cutting plants to trade for others in the future, you should plan for the best kinds to plant now to make that happen.
Black-eyed Susans and daffodils, for example, are perfect for cutting because they grow quickly and efficiently and cutting tends to encourage new growth.
Save money on new plants each season by taking cuttings from what you have and trading them with friends, family, or neighbors. If they don’t have anything you want, you can always sell them instead!
Saving money on your spring landscaping is possible with some tweaks in your shopping habits, a solid landscaping plan, and being smart about caring for your lawn in the future.
Since you’re saving money on everything from materials to water, pesticides, and other things to care for your yard, you can have a landscape that looks like a million bucks without costing anything near it.
What ways do you save on landscaping each year? We want to hear from you! Leave us a comment below with your best cost-saving landscaping tips.