Landscaping for Less: 8 Money-Saving Tips

Here are some ways to rein in a landscaping budget.

from Householder's Survival Manual

1. Do it yourself. Whether it is digging and laying a mulch path, mowing the lawn or fertilizing it, you will save hundreds of dollars and learn more about gardening if you do it yourself.

2. Be patient. Design your landscape, then break down the execution over several years. You will be able to spread out the costs and do more of the work yourself. Once you have it all “done,” you will still spend years refining it.

3. Buy in bulk. Gravel and topsoil purchased in little bags cost far more than having a landscaping company deliver them by truck. Potting soil is less expensive when you buy the largest size. Get together with a friend and buy mail-order plants and bulbs in large quantities.

4. Buy at off-peak prices. Late summer and fall are great times to buy garden supplies in clearance sales. And in the early spring, garden centers will often mark down last year’s merchandise to clear the shelves.

5. Look for bargains. Discount-store bedding plants are usually fine — when they first come in. But do not buy them when they are wilted and possibly diseased.

6. Garage-sale garden supplies can be bargains as long as you buy quality merchandise. Look for deals, but make sure the product will serve your needs.

7. Propagate your own plants. You can plant an entire hedge for free if you trim a neighbor’s shrubs and then root the cuttings. And you can plant a perennial or annual bed for under $20 if you start the plants from seed. It takes practice to learn how to propagate plants, but you will save money — and have a lot of fun.

8. Be environmentally correct. One of the great things about earth-friendly gardening is that it usually costs less: Non-chemical techniques cost less than buying garden chemicals. Composting yard waste is free; bagging waste may require stuffing large bags — and sometimes paying a fee to have them hauled away. You can also go to community sources for free fertilizer and mulch. Check with local stables for manure and ask your town government about where it dumps leaves.