Improving your home’s curb appeal is fun and rewarding. Everyone wants their house to look its best, and landscaping makes that happen. In fact, most homeowners would say it’s a priority over other money-saving upgrades like energy efficient appliances.
The only problem, of course, is that landscaping is never cheap. Or is it?
Knowing how to save money on your home’s exterior requires some creativity. Here are 8 ways to landscape for (almost) free.
1. DIY (“Design It Yourself”). Many landscaping companies keep a highly-accredited landscape designer on site to help customers determine what looks best on a property. These experts are actually wonderful resources, but sometimes you just don’t have it in the budget to enlist their services. Thankfully, the local library has a number of resources for your inexpensive landscaping project. Here, you’ll learn where to find the cheapest pavers, the most efficient outdoor lighting, and plants that require the least maintenance and upkeep --- all factors that figure into your bottom line. If you still want an expert to weigh in, contact your local community college’s horticulture program. A student or two may come and give design advice for free.
2. Go Slowly. You may dream of a pond with a fountain and walking trails, but you may need to settle for simple mulch at first in order to avoid debt. Patience will serve you well if saving money is the goal. Remember, buying things on credit means you’re paying more for that item than you would if you’d pay for it in full up front. If you’ve already racked up too much debt and need help getting out, call a non-profit credit counselor to discuss your options.
3. Buy used. Knowing how to save money on furniture and clothing by buying pre-owned goods usually means looking for gently used items. But did you know that you can also buy live foliage from others? To find pre-owned shrubs, trees and flowers, visit stores that are “going out of business”. Stop in and ask whether the business owner installed the landscaping or if it belongs to the landlord. Often, a tenant will be happy to liquidate the investment he made in his shop front. For gravel, decorative stones, and bricks, talk with the foreman of a construction site about possible leftovers.
4. Buy in bulk. Tell friends and neighbors what you’re going to buy, then ask if they’d like to go in with you to achieve a volume discount. When renting tools, go halfsies with a gardening friend who could use the same tool.
5. Fertilize for free. Learn to compost kitchen scraps and other materials to make the best natural fertilizer for your new plants.
6. Save those seeds. Rarely do you use an entire packet of seeds when planting. Keep the leftovers in a cool, dry place. Keep a landscaping journal of what worked, what didn’t, and the last time you planted. This will save money in costly losses and avoidable future issues.
7. Buy small. Big plants may make a statement, but they can be double, triple, and even quadruple the price. A frugal landscaper buys small plants and cares for them through maturation.
8. Propagate your favorites. Hostas, spider plants and ornamental grasses are just a few beautiful green gifts that keep giving. Propagating plants are those that can be split into two or three other plants. This is always cheaper than starting by planting seeds in expensive potting soil.
What are your best tips for landscaping on a budget? Tweet your advice and pictures to @CESISolutions!
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