Whether it’s your first home, a rent home or your grandparents’ home, one of the biggest challenges homeowners face is keeping the yard. Because the yard is a large portion of your home’s curb appeal, it’s important to keep it neat… especially if there is a homeowner’s association involved. Paying for landscapers may be convenient, but it’s expensive. Here are some basic tips to save some money without losing your curb appeal.
Eliminate the weeds
Weeds are the bane of any gardener’s existence. Without constant attention, they will take over your flowerbeds and the rest of your yard in no time. You could buy costly and toxic chemicals to treat your yard, but that’s an unnecessary expense and hazard to small children and pets.
You could just take the weed whacker to the weeds, but that doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, it helps to spread the weed seeds.
Your best bet is to pull the weeds up from the root by hand. Yes, it’s tedious and tiring work, but it’s good exercise and makes a big difference in the appearance of your yard.
A non-chemical alternative is to pour vinegar on large patches of weeds. Vinegar is cheaper and safer to use than weed killer, but the acid could potentially damage the plants you wish to keep, too. Use it with caution.
For weed prevention in your flowerbeds, place a layer of damp newspaper approximately six to eight inches below your top layer of soil. Weeds struggle to push through the paper, but you leave enough topsoil for flowers to grow. Some sites might recommend using plastic for weed prevention. Plastic does not absorb moisture and is not biodegradable like newsprint is.
Recycle yard waste
Grass clippings and raked leaves can be transformed into nutrient rich soil if you use best composting practices. Additionally, some communities offer mulching services for residents where you can take tree branches or hedge clippings to be ground into mulch. Often times that mulch is available for free or next to no cost for residents to use.
For quick use of grass clippings, simply mow the yard without catching the grass. Till raked leaves into flowerbed soil in the fall to decompose throughout the winter.
The most eye-catching flowerbeds are those that have something in bloom year round. Often that involves knowing which plants bloom in which seasons. For example, tulips bloom in the spring but need to be planted long before that. To save the cost of buying new flowers for every season, check with your local nursery for resilient perennials. These are flowers that return year after year with proper care, like iris.
Bulb plants like tulips and irises also provide a great opportunity for you to share or trade. Find some friends with different colors or a different type of perennial plant and divide them between the two of you. Doing so is free and diversifies your landscape a bit. Cover all flowerbeds with a layer of mulch to retain moisture and provide a finished look to your yard.
Occasionally you can find free mulch or plants on Craigslist, too. If you’re willing to do the work, the landscaping can cost you nothing but time.