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Stretching Your Landscaping Dollar

April 13, 2011

From Loan Officer Lou King

Frugal landscaping. That sounds like an oxymoron, but not necessarily.  New homeowners, particularly, may be excited about adding flowers and plants to a property they’ve purchased or built, or sprucing up a home that’s for sale, but need to do it with a smaller budget.

Frugal Landscaping Tips:

Know before you grow.

A design plan might sound expensive, but having a plan can actually save money in the long run by keeping the buyer focused on only the plants that work in their yard instead of other impulse purchases.  Homeowners can create their own plan – there are many helpful books on the subject – by saving magazine photos, or taking pictures of landscaped homes nearby that have elements they like. For $50-$100/hour, would-be- landscapers can meet with a landscape designer to affirm their plan or hear other suggestions.

Buy the largest trees you can afford.

Again, this may sound counterintuitive to the point of this article, but trees take a long time to grow, and yet, they add the most value to a landscape and property. A larger, healthy, mature tree instantly improves the curb appeal of a home, which ultimately makes it more attractive to buyers.

Instant lawn or seed that saves?

Sod delivers an instant lawn, but it comes with a very expensive price tag when compared to grass seed. However, many new homeowners want to have immediate outdoor space as well as the aesthetics of a lawn that’s ready to go. One idea is to sod the front yard, which is highly visible from the street, but seed the back. It provides the family with luscious green space to enjoy right away, for a fraction of the cost.

End of season sales.

In many parts of the country, it’s common for trees, shrubs, and perennials to go on sale after the Fourth of July.  The later in the season, the greater the discount! This is an excellent way to stock a yard with plants without breaking the bank. A good nursery or garden center offers a guarantee for a year or more, so look into that before purchase. These late-season plants may not look as robust as plants you purchase earlier in the spring, but most will survive winter and bloom heartily the following spring.

Go with impact items first.

Most homeowners are not able to implement 100% of their landscaping ideas right away. But, creating a dream yard in phases has benefits, too. Take the time to observe soil conditions, sizing and spacing. Some groupings work well on paper, but aren’t big enough or colorful enough once they’re planted.  Start with plantings that will make the most impact on your yard, even in a limited space, and build around that.  A patch of vibrant red rose bushes, or ornamental grasses can draw the eye away from other, barer parts of the landscape.

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