How much you spend on landscaping your property obviously depends on a number of variables:
- How much area you have to landscape
- How elaborate you want your landscaping to be
- What plantings you choose
- How much time you want to spend on upkeep and maintenance
Traditionally, most would say that you should plan on spending somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of your home’s value on your landscaping efforts. If you live in a $200,000 home, even the low end of that range comes to be $10,000. That is a big bill regardless of how much you love your yard.
But there are ways to install a great looking landscape around your home for a fraction of that cost. Gardening on a budget will yield results every bit as nice and will probably be more fun as well.
Before doing anything at all have a plan. Regardless of any temptation to go out and start digging and planting have a plan first. Put those plans on paper to get an idea of what your completed landscaping will look like. Having a plan on paper will also help you to see what the effects will be when you want to change something during the landscaping process (and you will!).
Regardless of your budget, your first step must be to understand your soil conditions and what, if anything, you need to do to improve it. For example, if your soil is clay or sand you will need to add compost to help any new plants grow before adding them.
Next step is to decide if you can work with anything that is already there. If there are existing trees can you incorporate them into your new landscaping? Trees take years to mature so a good pruning might be all that’s required. Not sure about how to prune correctly? Check out this page from the U.S. Forest Service. Saving your existing trees will save a lot of budget.
Free Is Good
- Take advantage of any programs you city may have to encourage homeowners to improve their property. These freebies can include trees, mulch, and compost.
- Want to install a stone or brick wall or path? Stop by local demolition sites. Very often, old brick and stone are yours for the taking. Just be sure you get permission first
- If you want to grow from seed, check out the online garden exchanges for seeds. A good one is GardenWeb
- When buying plants, go for the smaller pots. A 1 or 2 gallon plant will be must less expensive than the same plant in a 5 gallon container
Hire Yourself before a Pro
Obviously there are going to be tasks that a pro can do better, and for less cost, than you can do yourself but don’t discount what you can do on your own. For example, I would never hire anyone to put my plants in the ground because I am perfectly capable of digging a small hole. On the other hand, I am certainly going to hire a professional to do any larger scale earth moving, or installing a large irrigation system. A good tip is, if you have several tasks for the pros is to negotiate a package deal rather than do them one at a time.
Finally, there isn’t anything wrong with breaking your landscaping project into phases and do each one as your budget allows. Not only will this approach help you prevent stressing your budget, it also gives you a chance to check your progress and make any changes as you start the next project.