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Budget-Friendly Landscaping Tips

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your home. Curb appeal--or lack thereof--significantly impacts property value. Investing in a nicely designed landscape can increase your home’s overall value by up to 20 percent. But, like many home improvement projects, landscaping expenses can easily get out of control. Below are a handful of tips that can help you stay within your budget and get the best return on your landscape investment.

Plan your work and work your plan. Beginning a landscape project without a solid plan in place can lead to overbuying materials or planting the wrong kinds of plants for your area. Or you could end up with a disorganized, sloppy looking front yard. To prevent such costly mistakes your best bet is to consult an expert. Hiring a professional will cost money up front, but may end up paying for itself, saving you money in the long run. An ASLA-certified landscape architect can help you develop the best possible plan to fit your budget, specific growing conditions, and lifestyle.

If there is no room in your budget for a professional’s fees or you simply prefer a more DIY approach, a practical and appealing landscape plan is still within your reach. Most home and garden centers will provide free general gardening advice and, perhaps, a basic sketch. Your local Cooperative Extension Service is another inexpensive and, in many cases, free source of help. Every county in every state across the United States has an Extension office with an agriculture and/or horticulture agent; or a “Master Gardener” that can provide you with expert advice on plants, soils, and other matters relevant to your landscape project.

Do your homework and choose plants carefully. First and foremost, be sure to select only the types of plants that will thrive in your specific region and growing conditions. Important factors to consider include soil type, lighting conditions, and nearby trees (for example, if you have a walnut tree in your yard some types of plants might not be happy near it).

Second on the list of money saving plant selection tips is to include drought tolerant plants, especially if you’re short on time. These low maintenance plants will save you both time and money since they require less water than most.

And, finally, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by investing in perennials. Having a garden full of plants that come back year after year will allow you to realize a favorable return with every planting season that you don’t have to buy more flowers.

Be a savvy shopper. Where you buy your plants and materials can make a big difference in how expensive your landscaping project gets. In general, the big box stores have the lowest prices, but, there are benefits to patronizing local nurseries as well. For common items such as mulch, pavers and containers look to the major home improvement stores for the best value. The quality of these materials is pretty much the same wherever you go.

For plants and specialty items you might be better off buying from a local greenhouse or shop that specializes in the specific materials you want. The higher costs at these smaller retailers may be offset by better, personalized service from knowledgeable staff and plants that have been cared for more meticulously. Online garden shops can also provide high quality items at rock bottom prices, but be sure to factor in shipping costs to determine if you’re really getting the bargain you think you’re getting.

Equally as important as where you buy your landscape project materials is when you buy them. If you rush out to buy the hottest new variety of plants you’ll pay a premium. If you can hang on a couple of years, as production catches up with demand, you’ll probably pay considerably less. Truly, good things come to those who wait. If you divide your project into phases and delay buying some materials until after the planting season peaks you can get some great deals on everything including plants, soil, mulch, and lumber.

Be neighborly. Establishing friendly relationships with your neighbors can be good for your soul and your wallet. Rather than spending a ton of money purchasing or renting equipment, you could share the cost of equipment rentals with other families on your street, or work out a barter system. Perhaps you can lend your hedge trimmer to the guy next door in exchange for a few hours with his roto-tiller. Or split off your overgrown hostas and swap them for some of Mrs. Jones’ prize winning irises.

With the preceding tips in mind, spend some time thinking through the details of your outdoor home improvement project. You’ll spend less money and ensure a wise investment.

Sources: Better Homes and Gardens,
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Saturday, 22 June 2024

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