Spring Gardening on a Budget

Five do-it-yourself tips for saving big money on your landscape

from daveramsey.com on 13 Mar 2012
 

Warming temperatures bring outdoor activities, like gardening, back to our to-do lists!

We all want to have a good-looking yard, right? But not all of us have a lot of money to pour into a beautiful landscape. The truth is that there are some great ways to do it yourself, save lots of cash, and have a yard you love that adds value to your home. Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for no curb appeal and enjoyment!

Here are some tips and tricks for pruning expenses when working in your garden:

1. Match Plants to Your Yard’s Sunlight

When you start planning out your landscape, or what you want to add to it, it’s vital to take a look at the growing conditions of your yard—like how much sunlight each area gets—before hitting the stores. Then, shop for plants that match the amount of sunlight available for the areas you want to fill. They’re the ones that will be happiest in your yard! Sometimes different areas of one yard can have different growing conditions, especially when it comes to sunlight.

2. End the Battle with the Trimmers

Measuring the areas you’re buying for and knowing how big the plants will get will also cut down your stress and the cost of replacing plants that don’t work. You can also find this information on the plant tag at the store. If you plant something that grows to be six feet tall in front of a window you don’t want to block, you’re in for a constant battle with the shears. But when you buy plants that will be the right size for the area, you’ll only need to prune once or twice a year to shape them up.

3. Start with Smaller Plants

You can easily stretch your money farther by buying the plants you want in smaller container sizes. You will still plant them the same distance from each other (using the recommended spacing on the plant tag), and they will fill the area out over time. It takes a little more patience while they grow, but many plants are healthier overall when they are planted at small sizes. It helps them to establish their roots better and more quickly. Plus, they are easier and less expensive to replace if you get any lemons.

4. Save Your Receipts!

Make sure to check out the return policies on any of the plants you buy. Many of the larger garden centers (and probably some of the smaller ones) will let you return nearly any type of plant if it dies within a year for any reason. Annual flowers—the kind that only live a season or two—are the exception here. Just file away the receipts and bring them along with the dead plant when you make the return.

5. Shop for Plants As They Are Going Out of Bloom

Here’s a trick: A lot of garden centers will mark down plants that are perfectly healthy when they are going out of bloom. Stores stock up on plants before they bloom because that’s when people are most likely to buy them. These plants will certainly bloom again the next year (as long as they are not annuals), and you can save money on them just because they aren’t the best-looking ones in the green house.

Buying plants that are going out of bloom is kind of like buying clothes that are on the clearance rack at the end of the season. They won’t do you much good right away, but next year you’ll be glad you have them!

These simple tips can help you get gazelle intense with your goal of becoming debt-free while still enjoying your outdoor activities.

It's time to revisit your budget to find more ways where you can trim expenses! Download Dave's free budgeting forms to get started.

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