In the ongoing quest to operate a home on a budget it is also necessary to apply those efforts to goods and services for your home’s yard and garden areas. It is very easy to spend a small fortune quickly on tools, shrubs, plants, flowers, and mulch. Having a plan will be an essential ingredient in tackling this task from a frugal approach. Don’t worry, just because the funds are not in place for an irrigation system, truckloads of topsoil, a bushel of bulbs and a half acre of sod, there are still ways to make your yard look great. Here are a few steps for saving a little green on your greenery:
Before you begin, educate yourself about the best native and drought tolerant plants for your location.
There are designated garden zones for each region of the U.S. and they very easy to understand once you start digging. Check with your local agricultural extension service and your neighborhood library. If there are any garden clubs in your area, perhaps contact a few members for suggestions on which plants do well.
As you get started, hopefully you will have discovered which perennials and evergreens thrive in your climate.
These are plants that come back each year and many varieties reseed and multiply, which is a great money saver. Daffodils, tulips, jasmine, and hostas are a few examples.
Although it is tempting, avoid buying large quantities of annuals.
Lively flats of blooming annuals like pansies and impatiens look great amassed in large beds. However, they are time consuming to plant and only last one season. And…in many parts of the country, deer eat them as if they were candy! If you must have a few annuals, limit them to containers, which can work wonders for a front porch or window box.
Did you know that trees can do double duty as natural HVAC systems?
Consider planting deciduous trees along the southern and eastern sides of your home. These are the spots that get the most sun exposure. So, with a deciduous tree, its leafy branches can shade your home in the summer and its bare branches during the winter allow the sun’s natural heat to warm your home!
Conserve water by investing in a rain barrel.
There are several instructions for making your own on the Internet or you can purchase one from garden shops or online.
Another way to conserve water for use in the garden is to treat it like liquid gold. Inside your home, keep a large container for previously used, but basically clean water. For example, unfinished sports bottles, partially empty water glasses from mealtime, leftover water from cooking pasta or steaming veggies. Make sure you are using no less than 99% pure water; avoid anything that would be unkind to plants such as water with large amounts of added salt or vinegar.
Instead of buying expensive fertilizer, start composting.
Kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and leaves take a little time to break down. However, once you begin, you’ll have a steady supply of rich soil additive. Another plus from composting is that you will cut down tremendously on the amount of trash in your receptacle. Here is a link to an excellent article that’s all about composting: http://howtocompost.org/info/info_composting.asp
Thanks to sites such as Freecycle and Craigslist, it is possible to discover all kinds of steal deals on tools and garden supplies. It is not at all uncommon to see posts such as these:
“Bought too much mulch – make me a deal”
“Cleaned up my beds and have leftover bulbs – take them for free!”
“Help! My wife is allergic to gardenias – please give them a home”
“Riding mower for Father’s Day – selling push mower for cheap”
Of course the ultimate way to save money in your home garden is by growing your own food. Whether you choose to till a plot and sow a variety of veggies or opt for a few containers of tomatoes and herbs, growing your own is a great way to save a little money. Not to mention it is a very rewarding experience to be able to eat something you’ve grown yourself!
To begin your journey into small-scale food propagation, there are a number of excellent books for guiding you through the process. Check your library and be on the look out for the “Square Foot” series, and several titles from Better Homes and Gardens.