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Budget Landscaping Tips for Your Yard
When homeowners are planning their budgets to prepare their homes for sale, they often put landscaping at the end of the list…if they even think of it at all. Landscaping is an important part of curb appeal and shouldn’t be relegated to the bottom of the list. Here are more than two dozen tips for landscaping your home on a budget.
Tasteful landscaping always makes a good first impression on potential buyers, and landscaping can see returns of as much as 200%…particularly if you stick to a budget, and do as much of the work yourself as you can. Landscaping is one of the most valuable home improvements for homeowners to invest their time and money into.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Gardens are not only a good investment, they are fun and therapeutic! Studies from the Mayo clinic suggest that microbes in the dirt contribute to a healthy immune system and may even give us a boost of serotonin, that “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
As I’ve been searching for inexpensive ways to make the most of my landscaping, and gardens, I have discovered some tips that might just help homeowners keep the outside appeal as much of a priority as the inside. Here are some tips and links you might find useful:
Ten Budget Landscaping Tips
1. Take Cuttings. They’re free. You can grow some new plants from stems, some from roots. Some plants root much better than others. This is a great time to get friendly with neighbors…as you exchange cuttings with others, you can get gardening tips too. I found this great pdf tutorial on propagation from the Missouri Extension website.
2. Start Small. If you find the garden center sells different sizes of the same plant, opting for the smaller pot will save money. The difference in their growth after a short amount of time is usually negligible.
It’s tempting to buy the largest, most mature plants, trees or shrubs. Yes, they will look better and fill out a space sooner. But, you will pay more for the more for larger, more mature plants. With a little patience, and some care when they are small, your smaller plants will grow in less time than you imagine.
Another thing to consider about starting small is not to take on more than you can handle at first. Landscaping and gardens are work. It can all be overwhelming if you start too much at once. If landscaping gets away from you, you end up with an unkept landscape, which can be worse in the long run.
It’s often better to ease into it and learn as you go. You’ll quickly master the tasks that come with each season if you don’t stretch yourself too thin at the start.
3. Plant small. Plan BIG. Be sure to plan for the largest size that the plants will grow. You will save yourself the work of having to transplant when they inevitably outgrow the space you initially gave them.
4. Join a gardening club. Even if its for a short time, you’ll learn a lot and find a bunch of zealots who are willing to share. Tasker’s Chance Gardening Club was established in 1925 and has a nice website.
I belong to a gardening group on Nextdoor. We have a small but energetic group. I’ve gotten lots of encouragement and tips. Another benefit is our spring seed swap.
Join a Facebook garden group or like a page. There are many! If you can find one that is local or regional, all the better. Here are just a few local Maryland groups I found:
- Green-Walled Garden Club
- Master Gardeners of Frederick County Maryland
- Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland
- Mt. Airy Garden Club
5. Choose plants that fit your state’s climate and your soil type (Maryland for me). Your state extension website will have a list of native plants. Plants that are native to Maryland are much easier to care for, and they endure the conditions much better. They also support local birds and insects.
An easy-care garden is also more appealing to today’s buyers. Local plants are less fussy, resistant to disease and more reliable.
If you do much research, you will discover that there are local native plants that are becoming endangered, most often because homeowners are replacing them with generic hybrid varieties that are readily available in big box stores and local nurseries. Yet another reason to consider native, local plants.
Maryland Native Plants
- sunflower, (Helianthus)
- tiger lily (Lilium)
- willowherb (Epilobium)
- snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia)
- cinnamon fern (Osmunda)
- speedwell (Veronica)
- buttercup (Ranunculus)
- forget-me-not (Myosotis)
- pitcherplant, yellow trumpets (Sarracenia)
- lady’s slipper
- wild petunia (Ruellia)
- turtlehead (Chelone)
Use this tool from the National Wildlife Federation to find plants that are native to your specific location:
6. Choose Pest resistant bulbs. Bulbs are very economical because they are perennial. The only problem is that some of them are like candy to deer and rodents. There’s nothing worse than watching your investment be the supper of the neighborhood critters :/
Here is a list of bulbs from Southern Living you can plant now that these fiends won’t destroy.
- Allium (Allium sp.)
- Crinum (Crinum sp.)
- Dutch iris (Iris sp.)
- Foxtail lily (Eremerus sp.)
- Fritillary (Fritillaria sp.)
- Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa sp.)
- Grape hyacinth (Muscari sp.)
- Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
- Snowdrop (Galanthus sp.)
- Snowflake (Leucojum sp.)
- Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
- Spring star flower (Ipheion uniflora)
- Squill (Scilla sp.)
- Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogallum umbellatum)
- Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)
7. Choose bulbs that multiply. Watching your bulbs multiply is the way to get the most bang for your buck if you are patient. Small bulbs tend to do this better than larger ones.
8. Start from seeds. It might take longer, but the cost savings is astronomical, whether the plants are annuals or perennials. Take the time to research and find out about the plant’s needs…will they grow in your zone? Do they need winter stratification, or do they need sunlight to germinate? Do they need heat? This will give you the greatest success.
Choose self-seeding plants. I love the volunteers! << check out the list of self-seeding plants…Forget-me-not’s are my favorite on this list. Morning Glories aren’t on the list but they are great volunteers, in fact, they can be a little invasive. Make sure you know ahead of time and plan for some thinning and weeding if the volunteers go overboard!
Personally, I’d rather have a plant the WANTS to grow and that I need to thin out now and then.
9. Think outside the box. Use found and repurposed items for planters and garden art. With a few skills you can create stepping stones out of cement, planters out of broken china, or a trellis out of discarded wood or cheap bamboo sticks. A thrifted gate makes a beautiful and functional trellis.
10. Container Gardening is a great choice if you are short on time or space. You can bring them inside during the cold months and extend their life. You can take them with you when you move!
You can also get creative when it comes to pots and containers, using items that you have on hand. Don’t forget to scout out thrift stores and refuge stores like Habitat for Humanity’s Home Store in Frederick.
Five Great Resources for budget Landscaping
1. The Best Source Ever is the DIY Network Gardening website. You can find just about any tutorial you want, as well as lots of videos. Understanding plant types and what they need is a good start to a successful landscaping plan.
2. Research and Plan Ahead. Make a plan. Keep it flexible, but have a plan. Creating a visual of what you want to accomplish is helpful. If you like to go old school, subscribe to garden magazines and clip the pictures that you like. You can create a collage to make sure you like the color combinations.
Take your plans with you when you visit the garden store so you can take advantage of sales, or pass up a sale when you know that the plants on sale won’t fit your plan.
[special tip: Don’t get dazzled by all the fancy gardening tools, unless you’re not trying to stay on a budget. They may make you look more stylish, but they won’t really make a difference in your gardens.]
3. If you’re more inclined to go paperless, there are lots of gardening apps that you can use.
Here are nine popular apps:
- Grow Your Own
- Leafsnap – plant identification app
- My Soil – soil analiser
- Garden Plan Pro
- iScape – landscape design app
- Home Outside
- Home Design3D Outdoor & Garden
- Garden Tags
I also love to create Pinterest boards to keep my ideas handy. Pinterest is a wealth of information and design ideas! There are some great garden boards to follow.
Check out our Garden Art Pinterest board for lots of DIY ideas to personalize and add color to your landscaping and garden.
4. Composting makes more financial sense than buying fertilizer every year. The Frederick County Government Solid Waste Facilities has a composting class, as well as printed materials on the subject. Mixing your soil with compost will help keep your plants healthy.
5. Mulch from Local Recycling Centers is usually a better price than from a commercial company. You just have to haul it yourself. At the Frederick County recycling center has single-ground and double-ground, per ton. 9031 Reichs Ford Road. Contact the Office of Recycling at 301-600-2960 for more information.
Residents can also dispose of yard waste at the county landfill at 9031 Reichs Ford Road in Frederick.
How Much Should I Budget for Landscaping?
Many professional landscaping companies suggest spending up to 10% of your home’s value on landscaping. Wow. For many of us in Maryland that’s a lot of money.
If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, then you may not have time for some of these cost-saving methods of creating a beautiful yard. You can, however, combine some of these tips with some more immediate solutions.
Keep in mind that most of the more expensive landscaping ideas, like hardscaping, or fountains, or permanent structures like a pergola, may not give you the best return on investment. For the average home, those projects are really for our own enjoyment.
If you just bought a new home and the landscaping is minimal, you’re probably excited to get started adding some life to your yard. The best advice I ever got when we purchased a new home in Lake Linganore decades ago, was from a landscaper: Live in the house for a while and get to know the house and the yard before you make any plans. He was right, I had different ideas after a year…better ideas.
How Can I Make My Landscaping Look Better?
A pleasing yard is full of life. But sometimes that life gets unchecked. If you have existing landscaping in place, but it’s not what you want it to be, create a plan. Tackle that plan one item at a time. Many times it’s elbow grease that creates good curb appeal more than anything else.
- First, trim everything back to see what you’ve actually got going on. How healthy are your shrubs, borders and trees?
- Get those weeds out of the way.
- Find out how to bring each one back to life, or whether you need to dig some up and start all over again.
- If your outdoor space is bare, start filling in with cuttings, seeds, and some of the choices above. This is where having an overall plan comes in handy. Make sure you take into account plant height as well as width, soil requirements and care.
- Clean up the edges, create borders, bring on the mulch. Good looking mulch can transform a sloppy space.
- Take a look at the sidewalks, driveway, and outside the house. Curb appeal is important and can diminish all the work you’ve put into your landscaping if not considered. Do some power washing and repair.
Buy Plants and Garden Supplies Online
I’m a big fan of buying local. Facebook marketplace is a great place to get second-hand items, even free items. However, if you can’t find what you’re looking for locally, buying online can be convenient and inexpensive.
Amazon is a good resource, as well as online garden shops. When you consider the ease of shipping items nowadays, it makes sense. Sometimes the expense of driving around in your car, looking for the right things can add up.
Most of the garden gurus I follow on YouTube suggest that buying bare root plants is better than buying potted plants. I have found this to be true most of the time…if you can get the plant into the ground right away.
There are many benefits to bare root plants, the main one being that you have so many more choices. You can choose a variety that does well in your growing zone and micro climate. Sometimes when you go to the big box stores, you are only able to buy what they offer. Many times what they offer is a generic variety that they offer in every store in the country…which may or may not do well in your yard.
Karen’s Favorite Landscaping Goods:
- If you are becoming a serious gardener, composting may be on your list of DIY’s to master. There are many benefits to making compost for your own yard and garden. Read all the details in How to Make Compost: Step by Step Guide.
- Elbow Grease is the Secret to Great Curb Appeal – If you’re considering selling your home, you will want to start getting your home ready. Don’t forget the outside when you consider sprucing up the home. In most cases, all you need is a little elbow grease to make a big difference. Here are 10 steps to great curb appeal.
- Lawn Care Tips for Homeowners – Our guest blogger David Goldberg from Reliable Home Inspections shares some timely tips for lawn care.
- Homeowner tips – Use Less Water on Your Yard and Garden – Homeowners will be happy to know that having a lush green lawn, beautiful landscaping and colorful flowers doesn’t have to cost a fortune in water.
- Using Fresh Flowers in Your Staging – Everyone loves flowers. This is a list of the best to use.
Best Tip of All: Have Patience!
Landscaping Your Frederick Home on a Budget, written by Karen Highland
Contact us about our Listing Plan to sell your Frederick Home