How to save money on yard care
Spring is here, and that means it’s time to spend more time outside, perfecting that emerald green lawn. Landscaping, gardening and all the subsequent lawn care can get expensive, to the tune of $40 billion annually, notes the book “American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn.” Yard care is expensive, unless you know the tricks of the trade. Here’s how to save money on yard care this and any other year.
Xeriscaping cuts size, price
By xeriscaping — taking local breeds and confining them to a smaller area — you minimize total yard area and make gardening easier. You can avoid having to water constantly, which saves a great deal of money and time. Think a savings of as much as $200 per year on water, as a University of Illinois study suggests.
Deputy editor Eric Liskey of Better Homes and Gardens recommends not only cutting back on lawn size but also using plants that are drought-tolerant and can survive on sporadic rain and less watering.
“Focus on drought-tolerant plants,” Liskey told Bankrate. “Most nurseries and garden centers now will highlight that.”
Plant leafy plants and fruit trees for shade, food
Leafy plants and fruit trees can help you save money overall by providing shade that can lessen the need for air conditioning. Properly maintained, they can also produce good fruit. For instance, a semi-dwarf apple tree can yield up to 168 pounds of applies per year, according to the College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona. At $2 per pound, that’s $336 worth of food. How ya like them apples?
Compost organic waste
Why spend all that extra money on fertilizer when you can use grass clippings, vegetable scraps and other organic waste to do the job? Mulch it and augment the soil. Even a small compost bin can generate up to 40 cubic feet of free compost per year, as opposed to the $5 per cubic foot that stores like Home Depot charge. Having a mulching lawnmower also helps save you mulching time.
Use perennials over annuals
Annuals have to be replaced every year, hence the name. Perennial plants, on the other hand, can last three years or more, notes Liskey. Many perennials can also be divided, and the parts can be replanted in other areas of your yard to maximize xeriscaping efforts.
“After a couple of years in the ground, they’re big enough that you can dig those clumps up and divide them into three or four parts, and then replant those around,” says Liskey. “Basically, you’re getting free plants.”
Go after those fall plant sales
When the fall comes around – particularly in northern areas of the country – nurseries look to clear their inventory for the winter. That’s when the biggest plant clearance sales are held, with discounts of up to 50 percent off trees and shrubs. So long as the ground isn’t frozen, September and October can still be good months to establish new plants. Otherwise, you may need a greenhouse available to help you take advantage of the savings.