If you own a house, you know that landscape is crucial in front of the house and in the back. There are some written HOA and unspoken neighborhood rules that expect houses well taken care of, even if you don’t spend much time outside enjoying bushes, flowers, and bees. Most of us love being in nature though and desire to be surrounded by it as much as possible.
Landscaping also increases the value of properties. This is why when you see a new subdivision being just built, trees and bushes get planted first to give future buyers something to look at and envision the space as their future home.
All that is great, but landscaping can be very costly. Prices vary from state to state, but in general they make up a good chunk of home maintenance and renovation budget. Can you do something to reduce the cost without sacrificing the look and the quality of your outdoor space?
Yes, there are many ways to live surrounded by natural beauty without spending thousands of dollars for every little detail!
Let’s take a look at what industry expert and DIY enthusiasts recommend for patios and gardens:
Don’t reach too high
Yes, we all can be guilty of that – looking at magazines and dreaming of backyard paradises complete with not only new tiles, but also a pool and a Jacuzzi. It’s always a good idea to have a big vision, but start small and add later. If you don’t trust your own judgment, you can talk to experts at Home Depot and Lowe’s, or have a specialist draw some plans to help you plan your work in stages. Houzz also has landscape architects for you and your yard.
Be very picky about materials
This one is super important as paving, stone work, and other patio hardscapes make up the biggest share of expenses. Sure, we all see ourselves lounging on a cut stone patio under lush trees, but it’s better to hold our horses and instead of cut stone invest in high quality pebbles and those lush trees.
Imagine the savings you will have if you choose decorative pebbles ($8 per sq. foot) over cut stone that can be anywhere between $20 and $60/sq. ft. Start somewhere and then you can add fancy masonry later.
Another great idea is to consider designer outdoor tiles and floors from Home Depot, which are nowhere near $60-$60 per square foot, but look just as nice.
Always think about reusing
Don’t run to Home Depot or go to Houzz as soon as you start thinking about renovation, but take a look around and see what you can reuse. It’s possible to switch things up with old bricks, clay slabs, and by relocating established old plants. Repaint something, add a few details, and you will breathe in a new life very cost effectively.
Look for salvaged or local materials
You can always find something nice at Home Depot or Lowe’s, but before you go there, look for salvaged stuff at local salvage yard and material warehouse. You can find some serious treasures there.
If you are coming on empty, do go to Home Depot, but ask about materials that are local.
Those will not only be cheaper, but might fit in better with natural colors.
Don’t buy mature plants
You should always buy smaller plants and here is why – they are significantly cheaper and it’s fun to watch them grow. If you have any kind of green thumb, you will feel like it’s your care and effort that matter and not some nursery’s greenhouse’s when you see the little plant grow.
Always go for perennials versus annuals
Plants that get bigger with time and last for years are better for a few reasons – you pay for them just one time, but enjoy for years, and you don’t have to work planting them over and over ever spring.
However, you should make a trip to Home Depot and Lowe’s after watching some inspiring pictures at Houzz and buy some annuals simply because they blossom more and longer than perennials. If you need some color, that is.
Fall is the best time to get some sale prices on perennials at local nurseries and big stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s.
It’s always about details
This is true about life and about gardens. Sometimes it’s enough to add new accents and update a mailbox to create a new mood and refresh things. Fresh coat of paint, a couple of obelisks or garden sculptures, a new trellis, path lights, and you might feel like you have a totally new place. You can easily do those updates yourself with supplies from Home Depot or Houzz.
Get cheap potting containers
This goes along the lines of detail importance because a new modern pot or two can really change the atmosphere of the entire patio. Make sure you buy them during end of season sales from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Pike Nurseries, other local supplier, or from Houzz, All Modern, Wayfair, and others. This way you can save up to 50%. Always check your local listings on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for used planters.
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Think about future maintenance
You have to think about the work involved in caring for your newly installed landscape and the price it will take to keep materials looking good.
We recommend investing in long-lasting materials, such as synthetic wood over real wood that decays faster, flagstone and designer tiles from Home Depot over concrete, and native plants for savings on water. In some climates, like dry California areas, green lawn simply doesn’t make sense, so go for rocks and desert plants if you live there.
Get professional plans and do most of the work yourself
Sometimes in life you need a professional and this is one of those times, unless you just want to repaint your fence and replant 3 bushes. Look for affordable landscape architect, talk to neighbors about recommendations, and ask the professional how to save. Once you have a plan, you can decide on phases of work and tackle it one project at a time.
Be careful about all DIY projects
Despite your desire to save, some things are best if left for other professionals, besides the initial plan architect. For example, you can go to Home Depot and rent a small excavator easily, but should you? You can sometimes do more damage than good with heavy machinery like that. Pouring concrete for patio and creating proper drainage is also a job for people who do that for living.
We will say that putting sod, seeding, minor digging, planting, and even building a pergola can definitely be tackled by you.
Accomplishing patio renovation by yourself is an amazing feeling. You will save thousands, workup some sweat, bond with your family members, keep kids away from devices, and will appreciate the result a lot more than if it’s done by somebody else.
This goes for your kitchen scraps and materials that can be turned into compost. This will help you amend the soil for plants and will produce less waste. Food, lawn cuttings, fallen leaves can and should be composted. This way you won’t have to buy any compost bags from Home Depot or local nurseries and your plants will thank you.
The importance of proper maintenance
There are times when you don’t have to do anything more than just trim, cut, and shape. Every landscape designer knows cases when the yard looks overgrown, dark, and un-kept, so much so that new owners or existing ones feel the need to rip everything out and renovate. Start with a lawn mower, good garden trimmers, a shovel, gloves, and a little bit of time. If you don’t want to do it all yourself, hire a landscape maintenance company who will come and take care of everything for you for an affordable fee. You might be surprised what a difference that will make – you might even decide to not change anything at all.
Fertilize and provide adequate light
If your plants are not happy, they might need some fertilization and more or less light. Fertilizers are not expensive and have to be applied once a month, if that.
Plants might have to be replanted if a sun-loving shrub is growing in complete shade or a shade perennial is basking in full sun. If you are not sure about plant names and their light preferences, you can always take a picture and show it to your Home Depot or local nursery expert to get plants identified and some free advice.
If you want to fight weeds, do it by pulling them out or spraying yourself. Hired companies charge way too much for those kinds of services. Pulling weeds out is a good workout and is chemical-free, so you won’t be killing bees.
Fences are an important part of how your yard looks, so don’t underestimate them, but also don’t rush to replace the whole thing if something looks a little off. Save money by replacing individual posts or small areas and repainting if needed. Home Depot and all nurseries will have fence boards from different types of wood, so grab a power drill, some screws, and save a bunch.