Compared to other elements and materials, installing lawn is initially inexpensive. It’s what a lawn requires afterward that can get expensive. Fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, mowing, water, …sprinkler system.
From an economical and budgeting point of view, lawn areas should be kept small. In times of drought or little rain, it’s practically impossible to maintain a large area of lawn without an automatic sprinkler system. So a sprinkler system would be a necessity and so would also be an added expense. Have you considered the expense of a sprinkler system into your budget. Keep it in mind when planning the size of your lawn area. If a large lawn is your thing and your budget allows, that’s probably where a chunk of your expenses should go.
Sod vs. Seed
There’s nothing like the instant gratification of installing a sod lawn. However, compared to seed planting a lawn, the cost difference can be substantial. Most average budgets won’t allow for a large area of sod.
The preparation for both seed and sod is basically the same so that won’t influence your spending. The differences are that installing sod is more expensive and labor intensive. Planting seed is cheap but takes more time and attention to get it established. It comes down to which do you have more of. Time or money?
I have two full pallets of old red bricks that we gathered for free from an old burned down building. They have so much character. I’ve saved them back for my own courtyard that I plan to build…someday. Anything free fits my own landscaping budget so we gathered them up and brought them to the yard.
I can’t begin to say just how many old rock houses we’ve turned into rock garden walls or how many old fireplaces have become patio pavers. Native landscaping rocks and flagstones we’ve gathered are responsible for many walkways and garden walls like the wall we created in this xeriscaping design idea.
Old bricks, rocks, and other elements like these can be used for a lot of different projects such as garden walkways, edging, borders, waterfalls, rock garden walls, etc.
If you just keep your eyes open and more importantly, get out of the car and ask for it, there are plenty of cheap, inexpensive, and free resources available.
Cheap Landscaping Plants
Side by side, a 69 cent four inch potted Verbena and a $3.99 one gallon Verbena will be pretty much the same size by mid-season. It’s the same with most small specimen plants.
Most of the designs we create are planted in with smaller, immature, less expensive plants. Of course this is because it is much cheaper. While most of us would prefer an instant full grown landscape, patience here will pay off in spending your money in another area like maybe…trees.
Larger trees and shrubs? If you can afford them and they can be budgeted, use them. They add height and a finished mature look more than any other element. Otherwise, plant what is affordable and that you can carry and handle.
As most large trees are expensive, you may be tempted to buy smaller “fast growing” trees. Keep in mind that most fast growing trees are weak and short lived compared to some of the slower growers such as the Oaks, Maples, etc. Of course there are some fast growers such as Mondale Pine that are very strong and stable. This may be one area where you need to do a little research.
Low Cost Ground Cover
Just being aware of your options here could save you some money. Do you even know if your area has any quarries, sawmills, nut producers, or any other industries that produce waste that you could use as a groundcover?
Our local quarry provides decorative crushed rock groundcover that ranges is price from $15.00 per ton to $120.00 per ton. It’s a no-brainer as to what we use the most of in our designs. And as far as I’m concerned, the cheaper rock looks good, serves its purpose, and saves my clients a lot of money.
Compared to buying hundreds of little sacks of pebbles from your local home center, buying your rock from a quarry will generally be easier on your landscaping budget.
In our area we have a lot of pecan orchards and a few small businesses that do pecan shelling and manufacturing. Every year we have access to pecan shell waste that can be used as both a groundcover and mulch for much cheaper than sacks of bark from the home center.
Additional Ideas, Pictures, and Design Aids –
There are a few thousand pictures of landscaping in two directories that are free for you to get ideas from. The original landscaping pictures gallery is a link gallery to many different professional designers sites. The new landscaping pictures and ideas gallery hosts professional photos of yards and landscapes.
One More Thing – The Long Run
Keep in mind that cheaper isn’t laways the best way to go. Having to replace something before its time isn’t getting a good deal. And landscaping on a budget doesn’t mean cutting corners. So saving money on your landscaping also has a lot to do with quality of materials and how well it will withstand the test of time.