Landscaping on a budget can be a daunting prospect, as you may recall from the bill to fill your small flowerbed last spring. But fear not, creative one. With a good plan and a little ingenuity, you can create a stunningly landscaped yard that will make the pros drool. Here are some tips for keeping within your budget.
The first step to creating a great landscape design is a well thought-out plan. If you're stymied for ideas, the best inspiration is to take a walk in your neighborhood and admire other yards that you like. Keep your camera handy to grab a snapshot, and be sure to take good notes. Then it's time to take a look around your yard. Take into account shade areas, sun areas, slopes and any other characteristics of your property that will affect what you can build and plant. Is your front yard mostly shade? Then landscaping with items other than grass may be in your future. Having a completed design on paper will help you come up with your wish list, so you can get a good idea of your budget before you even get started.
More Bang for Your Buck
There are lots of ways to make your landscaping dollars stretch when it comes to design elements. You can buy young plants, which are fairly inexpensive, but may take a few seasons to grow to their full potential. Perennials are a good investment because they come back every year and get a little bigger to boot. Many perennials duplicate themselves or can be divided as they grow, which will help you cover more ground. If your neighbors have mature plants in varieties that you covet, ask for a few starts to plant in your yard. With luck, you'll be able to pay it forward in a few years. If you have extras of a certain variety, offer to trade with family and friends to vary the landscaping a bit. And keep an eye out for plant sales, especially toward the end of a season. You may not enjoy flowers immediately, but you'll get a nice surprise next year. Be sure to get plants that thrive in your zone, and choose drought-tolerant varieties if you get lazy about watering in the dog days of summer. You can also save money on hardscaping with a little creativity and some occasional scavenging. As they say, one person's junk is another's treasure, and salvaged objects can make some good-looking yard art. Construction sites are great places to pick up brick and pieces of concrete that make great pathways. And if you need a lot of mulch, it will ultimately be cheaper to get it delivered by the truckload rather than hauling home individual bags.
Buy in Phases
Unless you have a team of people working with you, it makes sense to buy plants and supplies in phases. This method will also help you make the best use of your budget. You can usually get a better deal on lumber in the winter, and you can find plants for a lot cheaper later in the season. And if you're buying small plants to save some hard-earned dineros, you may want to give them a couple seasons to fill in rather than trying to fill the empty space immediately.