Landscaping is one of those rare home improvements that can actually pay for itself (and then some) in increased value as well as increased enjoyment. When it comes to home improvements, the words "inexpensive" and "stunning" rarely go together, but in the case of landscaping there are many inexpensive improvements that pay huge dividends, both in the beauty of the home's exterior and in its resale value.
TIP: Our expert Gardening advisor Rachel Klein adds, "See something you like in a neighbors garden? Offer to trade cuttings!"
Flowers, shrubs, bushes and trees can also be cost effective solutions to the problem of inexpensive landscaping. Simply buying a variety of perennials and bulbs can provide season after season of beautiful blooms with only a single planting.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor Kathy Bosin adds, "By massing a bed of a single perennial, you can create a drift of color and texture. When you choose perennials that spread by seeding themselves or through runners, they'll grow thicker over time with no additional investment from your pocket. After a few years, you can even divide them and start new planting beds."
The staff at your local nursery or garden center can provide more complete information on which flowers and plants will do best in your own home environment.
TIP: Rachel recomends, "Before you buy any new plants, have your soil tested! If your soil is lacking nutrients, too clay, or too sandy, your brand new plants will not do well. Spend your time amending your soil properly before you spend your money on any potentially expensive shrubs."
TIP: Kathy suggests, "Ornamental trees such as redbud and dogwood can serve as a focal point in your landscape, and offer four season interest. Begin with a small ornamental tree, and build a plant border around it. Over time, you can incorporate shrubs, spring bubs and perennials into the scheme. A small investment can go a long way when you grow your landscape incrementally."
When it comes to trouble free exterior landscape planting, it is hard to beat the appeal and the hardiness of native varieties of plants and flowers. Planting flowers, shrubs and trees that are native to the area means that these plants are uniquely adapted to their own environment, and that in turn increases the likelihood that they will be low maintenance additions to your landscape.
TIP: Rachel adds, "Once your landscape is designed to your liking, maintain it the cheapest way possible. Instead of buying commercial mulch or fertilizer, set aside some space for a compost pile and make your own out of unwanted scraps. Use raked leaves or pine needles as nutrient rich mulch at no cost to yourself. Instead of hiring a landscaping company to mow or weed for you, hire one of the neighborhood children! It might not always look perfect, but you will cut the cost in half or more."
Rocks and Stones
In many cases, the landscaping design elements with the most impact are also the simplest and the least expensive. Simply adding a few stones or small boulders can have a remarkable impact on the look of the landscape, and these beautiful rocks can often be found at little to no cost.
In addition to these actual boulders and rocks, there are a number of artificial rock designs that can greatly enhance the appearance of virtually any front yard or back yard landscape. Some of these rocks are made of plastic or composite materials, and some even incorporate additional elements, such as outdoor speakers, into what appears at first glance to be a mere rock. The prices of these artificial creations varies, of course, but they can still be a cost effective way to add beauty, drama and value to the exterior of the home.
There are many additional ideas for landscaping on a budget, and it is a good idea to review several sources of information for more ideas. From magazines to local garden centers to the Internet, there is plenty of information available for those who want to enhance and beautify the exterior of their homes and businesses.
TIP: Rachel suggests, "Renting gardening equipment can be very costly. Talk to your neighbors about renting pricey equipment (rototillers, lawn aerators, etc) together and splitting the cost. If you are interested in buying equipment, remember that newer does not necessarily mean better. Used equipment from garage sales can work just as well and seriously cut down on cost."