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Low budget landscaping

Bob's 7 tips for landscaping with less


It goes without saying that many will be working with a tighter landscape budget as baby boomers begin to retire en masse.

Most household budgets get 'streamlined' due to a fixed budget, so this blog covers saving money on home landscaping.


#1 Sweat equity - I've always loved this expression and have seen its worth in action more than once. Young newlyweds buy an old house, put a bunch of their own work into it, and sell it for a profit. This is the truest sense of "sweat equity" and it can be done with landscaping as well. Investing in your own home brings a sense of enjoyment and will ultimately increase your home's value.

Sweat Equity pays off eventually

  
#2 Three bids - If you aren't planning to do the work yourself, it's always smart to get 3 bids. This will give you a good feel for what a job should cost. Make sure the bids compare the same scope of work and are using the same materials. That way you are comparing apples with apples, and oranges with oranges. Give the two losing bidders a second chance to match or beat the winning bidder's specs and price.

#3 Skip a year - This may be a good year to skip something, like mulching your beds. Chances are that if you have been mulching every year there could be mulch build-up. If you have more than 1 or 2 inches of mulch on your beds, you can skip mulching this year. You may still want to apply a pre-emergent weed control in Spring.

 

#4 Fight obesity - Let's call this one: "The move from Game Boy to Lawn Boy" 
I love video games too, but do your kids a favor, get the family outside working in the yard. There's plenty of time for video games after the sun goes down. Lawn mowing and landscaping activities are great for burning calories. There's nothing better than exercising and saving money at the same time -- double value!

#5 Go without - Most well managed lawns can go without intensive care for at least one year. Crabgrass is probably already under control and broadleaf weeds shouldn't need anything more than spot treatments. Catch any developing insect problems early with spot treatments. Reduce your fertilization schedule to twice a year (May and September in the Northeastern U.S.)
  
#6 Downgrade - Instead of using dyed mulch, or a triple shredded grade, get back to basics with un-dyed mulch that is only ground once. Chunkier mulch lasts longer too. It could save you as much as $10 to $15 per cubic yard. Instead of using high end fertilizers with slow release nitrogen, look for less expensive products with quick release nitrogen like you will find at a farm store.

Mulch savings add up!

#7 Water less - Most lawns don't need as much water as they receive. In the northeastern US, it is usually adequate to water thoroughly once a week using the equivalent of one-inch of rainfall. Water is most cost-efficient applied in early morning. For those who pay sewer fees based on water usage, install a second water meter to eliminate sewerage fees for water used on your lawn. The extra water meter usually pays for itself in the first year or two.
  
Bob

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