Landscaping On A Budget
We all want our yards to be the envy of our neighbors, but not all of us have the budgets to go hog-wild creating an elaborate landscape. Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a landscaper, there are several ways you can remain budget conscious while still getting that outdoor oasis you’ve always wanted.
Start With Smaller Plants
The yards we love the most are the ones with majestic trees, full grown shrubs, and billowing flowers. It takes time to get a tiny seed to that point. Nurseries invest in space, labor, water, and maintenance to grow that $2-$5 plant into a $50-$500 plant. If you’re willing to wait, and don’t mind starting with smaller versions of the same plants, you can invest in young 4” and 1gallon to 5 gallon plants for a fraction of the cost of their full grown counterparts. With the same care and attention you’re baby plants will grow into the big beauties you want.
It also helps to mix slow growing and fast growing plants together. The fast growing plants give you some instant satisfaction while you wait for the others to catch up. Buy the faster growing plants in the smaller sizes and splurge on a few larger plants to add both height and to serve as an anchor for your garden design.
Use Native and Adapted Plants
Another way to cut costs in the plant arena is to use native and adapted varieties. They use less water, are better suited for local conditions, are more resistant to local pests and disease, and require less care and maintenance, which saves you money in the long run. Many exotic and non-adapted plants require more work to keep them alive (which runs up replacement costs), and can sometimes bring pests and diseases that kill off other plants. Non-adapted varieties also tend to be invasive, competing with and often killing other plants. Overall, as a long-term investment native and adapted plants are the biggest bang for your buck.
Work in Phases
Every big vision has to start somewhere. Instead of trying to tackle your entire space at once, try working in phases. Look at your wish list and prioritize the projects. Then knock them out as funds are available. This way you are still seeing progress, but without making a huge financial commitment all at once.
One caveat; do get your initial irrigation system lined out first. You don’t want to have to go back and tear up beds and turf to add or reconfigure irrigation pipes. If you’re working from a plan, your irrigation tech will know how to set up your system so that you can adjust it to fit your needs as you complete additional phases.
Use Stone Sparingly
Hardscapes are very popular these days, but those beautiful stone patios and structures come with a big price tag. Depending on the type of stone you want, the materials alone can be quite expensive. Because stone is heavy and difficult to work with it takes a great deal of labor, which further drives up the price tag. If budget is a concern, think about using stone as an accent element, rather than as the basis for your overall design.
There are also several faux and modified stone products available that can give the same look and appeal of stone, without the expense. Many are just as durable as stone, but are lighter, cheaper, and easier to work with.
Think outside the box when it comes to materials, accent pieces, and design. Be willing to experiment with natural and found pieces, especially when it comes to those garden accents. If you’re working with a contractor, ask for their input. Often they know about alternative materials and vendors who can provide comparable plants and materials for less than retail.
Most of all be flexible. Working on a budget doesn’t mean big restrictions on what you can do. Decide what you really want, look for opportunities to save, splurge on the statement and anchor pieces, and be willing to think outside of your original vision.
Landscaping on a budget doesn’t mean a tiny, boring yard. It just means it will take a little more patience and creativity to turn it into the oasis of your dreams.