[Landscaping] 5 Backyard Landscaping Ideas On A Budget
If your house is your castle, but the location right outside appearances like a grown dark, scarred landscape deserving of a middle ages struggle scene, you recognize you have job to do. Your house’s landscape wasn’t suggested to be deserted, mistreated and overlooked; it’s a property.
But maintaining your home’s exterior takes time and money, and you’re running short on both. However, there are ways to turn your no man’s land into a gorgeous, eye-grabbing haven, without laying waste to your wallet.
First, let’s define what we mean by landscaping. Some people think of grasses and flowers as the foundation of landscaping challenges, but there’s more to it than greenery.
Instead, think of your yard project as a holistic environment in which the plant life, terrain, water bodies, and human-created elements, such as fences, walls, decks, patios and other structures, all combine to present a specific feel and function.
In order to create a lasting, beautiful, and valuable landscape outside your home, you’ll have to do some planning. By taking the time to really ponder about how you want this precious space to look, you’ll wind up with an area that not only looks great, but costs you a lot less money in the long run. Although Americans might spend around $45 billion in a single year for landscaping and lawn services and supplies, you don’t have to contribute your hard-earned income to that huge figure [source: National Gardening Association].
On the next page, we’ll dive into our series of 10 tips that will help you morph a yard into your castle’s exterior paradise, and for less cash that you imagined.
1) Get a Land Plan
The scenario is all too real. Beautiful weekend weather sparks your desire to get outside and finally get to work on your yard. So what do you do? Hop into the car and head to the home garden center at your nearest store, where you go on an expensive spending spree worthy of Edith Wharton.
Then you arrive back at home, throw your new tools on the turf, and realize you really have no idea where you’re going with this project. So you retreat indoors and swear to never watch a home care TV show again.
In order to do good, lasting landscape work, you must have a plan. And to have a plan, you have to know your land.
Observe the way rainfall and runoff flow through the yard, and the way light falls in certain places throughout the day, and in different seasons. Think about how you want to spend your time in your yard, and whether you really want an expansive and time-consuming garden, or a huge, plant-less patio where you can lounge without worrying about weeding the tomatoes.
Ask a professional landscaper for a free estimate or a paid consultation for advice on how to best use the space you have. Sketch diagrams of the final project, and use that picture to build a list of necessary supplies, along with their costs.
Use tips from the experts at sites such as Better Home and Gardens and HGTV to refine your ideas and prioritize. And then plan to work on your project in phases so you aren’t overwhelmed by either labor or expenses.
So now you have an idea of where to start. Keep reading and we’ll tell you more about one major (and potentially majorly destructive) foe of landscaping projects.
2) Eliminate Water Worries
Nature might abhor a vacuum, but it loves water. And seemingly without fail, if you live in a climate where rainfall happens, Mother Nature will find a way to put water where you don’t want it.
The way your yard works with (or against) drips, downpours, and deluges can affect your entire landscape project, and if done improperly, can cause serious issues even inside your home. That’s why this tip is less about saving money on construction and more about preventing ghastly, costly mistakes.
Runoff and rainfall tend to follow the grade, or slope, of the ground around your home. If you often have water in your basement, a poor grade may contribute to the problem, requiring a dirt-moving project on your part. And if you’ve never had an interior water problem, you’ll want to keep it that way by making sure the grade continues to push water away from the foundation.
Similarly, you may find that after a hard rain, you wind up with standing pools of water in the middle of the yard, providing a nice bedroom community for mosquitos making the commute to your skin. In short, you need to think about how you want to shape the land to make water go where you want it to goâ€¦and away from the places you don’t.
Proper grading, correctly positioned downspouts and drains, and other factors all change the way water flows through and around your yard. In order to control water, observe your yard before, during, and after a rain shower. Notice any areas where runoff-related erosion is a problem. And then develop your terrain plan accordingly.
3) Recoup Costs on Air Conditioning
In many parts of the world, heat and humidity go on a long, torrid love affair each summer. Together, these weather elements make homes almost unbearably uncomfortable — unless you’re lucky enough to own an air conditioner.
But air conditioners are expensive to operate. Proper landscaping, on the other hand, can make it seem like cash really does grow on trees.
A big, healthy shade tree can provide roughly the cooling potential of 10 room-size air conditioner units running for as much as 20 hours per day [source: Scotts]. Shade trees have to be in the correct location for the best effect though, and in the Northern Hemisphere, that generally means the southeast, southwest, west sides of the home.
As for your air conditioner itself, you can improve its efficiency by 10%, just by planting a tree or bush that shades the unit.
4) Smarter Supply Shopping
When spring hits, so does gardening and landscaping fever. Hardware and gardening supply stores capitalize on this trend and mark-up their products accordingly. So to borrow another retail axiom — buy your winter sweaters in May.
In other words, you’ll find that landscaping tools of all kinds are much, much cheaper if you buy them in late summer or autumn. Everything from hoses to hoes will often go for prices that are a fraction of their springtime peaks.
Become a coupon clipper. Circulars in your Sunday newspaper will help you find steep price drops on tools and supplies. If you needlandscaping services, go directly to a company’s Web site to find any available discounts. Sign up for newsletters and alerts from big hardware stores to receive updates on major price reductions.
And weigh your purchases carefully. Don’t buy fabulous tools just because they’re on sale, and think twice about stockpiling 10 pallets of bricks that you don’t have room for.
5) Pick Your Plants Precisely
Sure, those tropical carrion flowers are incredibly beautiful, and as a bonus, they smell like rotting meat. But are they really going to thrive in a backyard in Boulder?
If your green thumb actually has coloration that’s closer to black than jade, take heed — you can’t pick and choose plants willy-nilly and expect them to survive in your yard. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars hoping that various a species or two will finally stay alive for more than a week or two. Or you might spend that much trying to eliminate a non-native, invasive plant that has taken control of the entire place after you made the boneheaded mistake of planting it.
For starters, you can get a rough idea of whether a plant will survive by checking an interactive map like the ones from the National Gardening Association, Better Homes and Gardens, or Mother Earth News. But don’t depend on solely little colored climate region maps that supposedly show places that are suited for certain plant types. Success depends on more than weather patterns. Soil type, other plant life, animals, and many other variables also factor into the equation.
When it comes to picking plants, experienced local gardeners can offer tips that will save you a ton of time and money. Local government agencies, like a county extension and university horticulturists, also are happy to help you determine which plants work best in the area, and how to avoid the kinds of foliage that amount to no more than pestilence.
Finally, consider substituting vegetables for less functional plants. The Great Recession has helped boost gardening by more than 20% in the United States, as people look for ways to lower their food costs and have higher quality food [source: NGA].
For 5 more landscaping backyard ideas visit Landscaping Ideas on a Budget
Image Source: Steven Depolo