Landscaping can get expensive. Besides, you know, the cost of materials, like dirt and flower bulbs and bushes and rocks and, oh, the water to grow all of those plants, you also have to think about the labor that goes into it and whether you want to pay for someone to do that labor or you’re going to end up doing it all yourself and — wow, I just gave myself a small panic attack.
Luckily, there are a ton of ways to do amazing things with your yard without spending an arm and a leg. Here are five of them:
1. Choose a grass alternative
Lawns are expensive to maintain, especially if you live in a climate that was never meant to support a full and luscious lawn. Grass requires a ton of water, plus fertilizer and weed treatments for stubborn lawns. And if you don’t maintain it correctly you may need to re-sod it, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Grass alternatives, such as thyme, bishop’s weed, and lamium can spread quickly and can survive through tough times, such as drought or low temperatures. Some people choose to put grass alternatives only in the areas of their lawn that are hard to maintain, creating a patchwork of plants that make for inexpensive eye-candy.
If you live in a particularly arid area, check out our article on xeriscaping your yard for a great alternative to an expensive lawn.
2. Save water and make your own compost
It’s not hard to make your own rain barrel. With just a few tools and some good glue, you can attach a spigot to a trash can and set up the contraption under your downspout. While your homemade water barrel may not be enough to completely replace your water supply, it can help you save money and re-use otherwise wasted water.
Composting can also be a cheap and easy alternative to expensive mulch and soil products. You don’t need an expensive bin to compost (though it does make it easier if you don’t have a lot of space) — all you need is a correctly built compost pile. After a few weeks of tossing old banana peels, cut grass, dead leaves, and other compostable material into the pile, you’ll have a hot, steaming pile of "black gold" — nutrient-rich soil that you can use to kickstart your garden.
3. Get cuttings from your friends
There are a ton of great plants that don’t need seeds or bulbs to start new growth. Rose bushes, for example, can grow from a cutting, as can most succulents. One easy way to start a new garden or to get some new plants for your lawn is to ask your friends for cuttings from their plants. Many friends will be happy to share — they’ll feel connected to your new lawn, and it gives them an excuse to go out in the garden and do their own landscaping work.
4. Plant perennials
There are two types of plants out there: perennials and annuals. Both are beautiful, but only one comes back every year, and surprisingly, it’s not the type called "annuals." If you don’t want to spend a ton of money every year re-doing your garden, buy perennials like allium, coneflower, and sage. They’ll come back every year for free.
5. Shop offseason
It might sound counterproductive to buy and plant flowers in the fall, especially when you walk into a shop and half the plants look dead. But trust us: those wilted flowers will grow with gusto next spring. Just check and make sure the roots are still alive and aren’t wet and mushy. Strong roots equals strong flowers next spring.
Image: Thirty Turf Irrigation