10 Landscaping Ideas That Will Save You Time and Money

Gardening should be a fun, family-friendly way to boost your health, connect with nature, and improve your home. But for those on a limited budget, being able to nurture a natural space in the backyard can sometimes feel like a financial bridge too far.

New tools, containers, and plants can often feel prohibitively expensive. Regular trips to the local garden center can soon take their toll on the credit card. Even busy homeowners fortunate enough to afford new materials and plants may find themselves short on time to actually shape and maintain their space, and getting professionals in to do the work for you will only ratchet up the price further.

But gardening doesn’t have to be this way. Fortunately, there are a number of green tips and tricks that can help you make the most of your outdoor space without breaking the bank. Today, we’ll be sharing some DIY hacks, recycling wisdom, and cash-savvy advice to help save you time and money during every backyard project.

1.  Use recycled materials to build beds and other hardscaping elements

Raised beds, fencing, and other foundational garden features can be formed of simple shapes constructed out of simple, recycled materials. Keep an eye out for old pallets that can be repurposed, discarded bits of timber that can be treated and reused, or even old paving, stones, and brick work that could be refashioned into hard surfaces.

You don’t need to be a DIY wizard to erect simple raised beds using pieces of timber, or to create basic but attractive boundaries for different areas of your garden. Check out videos on YouTube, borrow a toolkit from a friend, and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you’re capable of making with your own hands.

2.  Get creative with your mulch

Mulching is a time-honored method of suppressing weeds, helping soil retain moisture, and guarding your plots against heavy rain or extreme temperatures. Organic mulch will also decompose gradually, improving the nutrient quality of the soil its servicing.

The great thing about mulch is that you don’t need to invest in expensive garden center products in order to make it. Recycled woodchips, shredded leaves, and even old pure-cotton clothes can all be used to help line beds in an environmentally friendly way. Effective mulching will also help you cut down on water and fertilizer usage.

3.  Invest time in making your own compost

The compost pile is the engine room of the garden. Making sure you have your own is one of the best ways of making sure your vegetable scraps and fruit rinds don’t go to waste, as well as saving you endless dollars that you might otherwise spend on store-bought fertilizers and bags of pre-made compost.

To really maximize the productivity of your compost operation, make sure you’re only putting uncooked, organic food waste on the heap, and that it remains warm and moist. Turning it once every few weeks can also speed up the decomposition process, helping you turn out more nutrient rich compost for your garden.

4.  Plant native species

Native plants that are well suited to your local climate will often take far less time and energy to keep healthy. They can also prove better for local pollinators and insect populations, helping to boost biodiversity in a sustainable and location-specific way.

What do people mean when they say ‘native species’? Native plants are usually those that have grown in the area for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, rendering them well adapted to local soil profiles, weather conditions, and more. Your local cooperative extension office should be able to advise you on which plants are native to your region.

5.  Think about water conservation

As well as choosing plant species suitable for your local climate, there are numerous other ways to help keep your water usage down. Xeriscaping design prioritizes the use of plants which require little to no watering on the part of the gardener, along with using drought-resistant ground cover and non-grass surfaces.

Digging organic matter into your soil can also help keep it absorbent, soaking up and retaining water before it has a chance to evaporate.

You can also consider attaching water butts to your external gutter systems to capture and preserve precious rainfall.

6.  Opt for perennial over annual plants

Buying new plants can, for many homeowners, prove to be one of the most expensive aspects of keeping a garden space looking fresh. To save time and money, opt for perennial species that bloom year after year, rather than annual bloomers that require fresh planting every spring.

Most spring bulbs are also perennial and require little to no maintenance. They tend to be some of the most affordable plants and can help to liven up grass spaces or beds with fresh blooms and color each year.

7.  Consider using an automated mower

You might think that opting for an automated robotic mower is not a particularly budget-friendly option. This garden technology has, however, advanced leaps and bounds in recent years, with relatively affordable models now being widely available and tailored for a growing consumer market.

What’s more, for those who feel that their time is just as valuable as their hard earned cash, an initial investment in an automated mower can save hundreds of hours of manual mowing further down the line.

Automated mowers can also help keep grass healthy and vibrant. By cutting a small amount regularly and then returning the grass shavings to the soil these mowers help naturally fertilize your lawn as well as encouraging vigorous growth.

8.  Keep an eye out for local bargains or giveaways

Budget-conscious gardeners should always be on the lookout for a local bargain. Some of the best deals you’ll find when it comes to garden products will be at local garage sales, spare plant giveaways, and local markets.

You should also consider browsing local gardening forums, joining community garden groups, and looking for freecycle opportunities. You’ll be surprised at the amount of recycled material, unwanted seeds, and general gardening gear that people are looking to pass on to a good home.

9.  Avoid buying expensive pots or containers

Garden centers and DIY stores can charge a lot of money for pots and containers which can often be picked up second-hand or fashioned from disused items. Remember, gardening is all about flexibility, using your environment in creative ways, and thinking outside the box.

Old buckets, wheelbarrows, dead logs, discarded bathtubs, and thrown-out furniture might all be refashioned into new, quirky, functional containers. Just remember to drill holes in the bottom of any sealed container to allow for smooth drainage before using it to house plants.

10. Choose groundcover plants and reduce your lawn space

A perfectly manicured lawn can feel like a must have for many proud homeowners. Unfortunately, grass lawns can often prove to be some of the most labor intensive, and expensive, spaces to maintain in a garden.

If time and money really are priorities for you, consider reducing your lawn space by incorporating lower maintenance perennial beds or even stone work and other non-grass surfaces.

If you want to maintain a green space but without the extensive mowing and irrigation, groundcover plants can be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional, monoculture lawns. Species such as pachysandra or clover can be a great way to retain a natural, grass-like aesthetic, but require far less maintenance.

As with choosing any plant, shrub or tree, opting for groundcover species that are native to your area and well suited to your climate can help ensure your garden remains healthy and resilient without the need for additional fertilization, heavy irrigation, or frequent human intervention.

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