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Frugal Living Ideas And Cutting Costs On Your Home: How To Save Money On Landscaping


Landscaping or just making your yard livable can cost you big bucks.

There is a number that 'experts' throw out that you should take into consideration when considering landscaping your home.

The projection is that the average home owner will spend from 5% to 15% of the value of their home to landscape it!

Wow! That's a lot of money!

As if money grew on trees.....landscaping dollars can add up to big bucks really quick if you don't know what you're doing.

Let's look at some tips on how to save money on landscaping.


First and foremost, have a plan when you decide to start landscaping. Make sure you look at it realistically to make sure you've thought of things like terrain, amount of sun, and what you can actually afford.

Having a realistic plan will save you time and money in the long run. Your landscaping plan must be based on the reality of where you live for you to get the most enjoyment from your landscaping. But also, to get the most for your money because you won't need to replace things that didn't work.

If you think you need an expert's opinion there are several options.

You can always pay a landscaper to come and design your ideas for you. That way, you'll know that the plan will really work.

Another option that is much cheaper is to draw up your plan yourself and then consult with a landscaper. He or she can confirm the viability of your plan and even give you suggestions on options.

No matter which way you go, once you have a plan, think in stages.

Even on a budget, there are many ways to save money and still use quality landscaping materials and plants. You just do it with the idea in mind that you're going to get the best bargains.

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By doing your landscaping in stages allows you to pay cash for each stage and thus avoid a huge outlay of money.

It also allows for the adjustment factor. Sometimes what you thought was going to work on paper doesn't work in actuality when all is said and done. It's sometimes best to see what is working rather than having to start all over again.


  • Buy plants and trees late in the season because nurseries and stores want to get rid of their merchandise.
  • Do the same with soil and compost.
  • Even if those perennials don't look so 'hot' in October, they will be gorgeous after they've dropped roots through the winter.
  • Don't scrimp on soil. For anything that you grow, nutrients are essential if you want the kind of lawn or garden that you dream of.
  • Consider adding mulch to your soil and you can save money that way.
  • Or add compost.

TIP: For very little money, you can make your own compost bin and use food scraps and yard waste. You only need the space to construct your compost area, 2x4's and chicken wire. The area has to have enough space to be able to turn over the composting material every so often.

public domain photo

public domain photo


Divide and conquer.  Consider what type of plants you want to buy and put in.  Perennials that multiply are one of the best ways to save big bucks.  What you start out with can multiply for years to come giving you many more plants than you bought originally. 

Make sure you look on the Internet or buy a plant guide.  Know when and how to divide plants and you will find yourself with more plants than you know what to do with.  You can even trade some to neighbors for plants in return that you need!

Buy small and let them grow.  Buying fully developed trees or plants will cost you lots of money.  Better to buy small plants and let them mature.  You can buy roughly 3 times the plants for the same money if you buy a less mature plant. 

You can also train or cultivate the plant or tree to grow as you want it to grow rather than it being too unruly or big from the beginning. 

Check on return policies.  Make sure you know the policy on refunds for materials or plants.  Stores like Home Depot or Lowe's will refund your money but you must have receipts

If you're buying plants from one of these stores or a nursery, you might want to consider keeping receipts as well as the containers they came in.  That sounds overwhelming but in the end, if you bought 15 perennials of a certain kind that didn't winter over, you'll want to be reimbursed in cash or get new plants!

Sometimes private nurseries are much better about standing behind their plants but still keep receipts.  Nurseries are generally much higher in price though for plants unless you catch them at the end of the season....then they're a great buy!

Buying from a local nursery will probably assure you that your plants, trees and shrubs are going to survive better.  Many stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot for instance truck in plants that are grown in other areas.  They may not survive YOUR winter where they will survive somewhere else just fine.  You want to be able to get your money back in that case.

Do your homework and do the math.  When planting trees or shrubs, make sure you do your research.  Know how tall the tree or shrub will be or what the zonal climate requirements are for them. 

It's usually recommended to plant trees or shrubs of substantial growth potential at least 30 feet from structures because of root growth.  A cracked foundation won't help you save money. 

This also applies to plants, especially perennials.  It's important to know how far they will spread or how aggressive they can be in terms of growth to avoid problems later.

Maintenance.  Maintenance in landscaping is a huge part of the deal.  You have to have the time to keep up with gardening, lawns, trees and shrubs.  Make sure that you only put in what you can maintenance.  If you have to pay someone else to do your work, you won't be saving money.

With maintenance also comes water issues.  If you want landscaping that is relatively drought-resistant, then you need to make sure you move in that direction from the beginning. 

If watering isn't a financial factor but a convenience factor, then you need to anticipate that with thoughts about putting in a sprinkling system.  See more on water below.

Do as much of the work as possible.  Even if you have to hire someone to come in and do some of the work such as back hoeing, do the prep and as much of the work as you possibly can and you'll save money. 

Hiring high school or college students is also a great way to save money.  Just make sure you're honest about what you want them to do before they start and agree on the pay scale that is agreeable to them. 

Know your skill level.  Recognize early if there is part of the project that you simply can't do.  Don't keep trying to do it yourself if you feel you are in over your head. 

There are some things you need a professional for such as pouring a sidewalk or even building a wall if you don't know what you're doing. 

The money you save by not having to redo it later is worth knowing it's done correctly.

Read, absorb, and get ideas.  Drive around and look at other people's yards.  Watch programs on TV for great ideas on landscaping.  Check out books at the local library.  Drop in at Barnes and Noble for a coffee and browse their landscaping books.  Knowledge is the greatest way to save yourself time and money.

Always keep in mind though what works in sunny southern California might not work at all in Central Oregon and be ready to adjust your materials accordingly....including everything from lumber types to plants!

Find out what your neighbors grow. It's a great way to get ideas and it's also a great way to get cuttings or plants maybe they're dividing.  Do the same for them. 

If you're into vegetable gardening, it's a great way to share and share alike when you have a good growing season.

Water expenses.  Spending too much on your water bill isn't probably going to help you save money.  The trick is to make sure you have watering covered but in the most economical and the least complicated way.

Make sure whatever you plant or need to water isn't going to break your pocketbook in terms of how much water and how often.  Look into water conserving ideas before you plant.  Again look for drought resistant species of plants if at all possible. 

Also always plant things that are supposed to grow in full sun in full sun, things that require shade in the shade. 

Less waste if you know your property and what conditions each part of it offers.

Last but not least, a sprinkler system can be the answer to saving money and keeping things watered, especially if it's on a timer.  Less waste and more predictability. 



Did you know there are many ways that you can get free plants or even trees?  There are also many places you can pick them up for reduced prices (besides the usual sales at nurseries and stores).

You can also pick up materials for your landscaping projects at local sites or by scouting out people giving away materials.  Or perhaps they're selling them at super reduced prices just to get rid of them!

Just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Some cities give away free trees, mulch and compost.  Check with your city to see if they offer this. 

    In Seattle, people can request 10-40 trees as a neighborhood project if they agree to plant and care for them.
  • Demolition.  You can find all kinds of cool things at demolition sites from barn wood to bricks and stones to plants.  Just make sure you have permission to take things from the site.
  • Join the National Arbor Day Foundation and receive 10 free trees....shipped to you at no cost!
  • You can buy just about anything for your landscaping project on-line.  You can buy materials but you can also order plants and trees.  Price compare and check out the amazing things you can buy!
  • Check out arboretums or botanical centers because they often have plant sales. 
  • Check on-line or in newspapers, at local nurseries for plant sales.  You never know what you might find.
  • Check out Free Trees and Plants, which is a website that trains and employs the disabled.  They are an organization that rescues unsold plants.  They were offering free trees and plants and you only had to pay shipping and processing fees on your orders.  However, they might be going out of business at this writing. 

Above all, if you want to save money on landscaping, have a plan but be willing to be flexible as it develops. 

Also have an open mind about materials and if you find something cheaper and can make it work, do it. 






Poured concrete






Stepping stones






River rock



Pavers with creeping plants between






Bricks and wood



Bricks and flowering plants



Old tires



Railroad ties






Plastic containers



Trash cans



Old tires






Bathtubs, etc.


Seating/Furniture, etc.

Outdoor durable

Stone benches

Premade fountains










Open areas






River rock

Beauty bark


Natural vegetation






Combination of several types




Patios and Decks




Tech Deck

Tips on Landscaping Projects and Saving Money

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  • 3D Landscaping for the DIY Homeowner
    During this age of DIY landscape projects, sometimes an ambitious homeowner needs a little visual help to get the project done. While there are many landscaping programs available, Active Worlds is perhaps...
  • How to Plan Your Landscaping Project
    Tips for Creating a Low Maintenance Landscape
  • How Can You save Money on a Landscape Project?
    The key to saving money on a Landscape Project is proper water management planning.
  • How to Install Landscape Pavers
    Putting in a brick, or paver walkway is something almost anyone can do with a little time and effort. For best results keep your plan simple.
  • How Can You save Money on a Landscape Project?
    The key to saving money on a Landscape Project is proper water management planning.
  • Saving Money on Your Yard Lighting
    With the steady increase in energy prices, saving even just a little bit on your electrical bills each month can really translate into big savings at the end of the year. One way that you can save a lot of...
  • How To Save Money On A Backyard Terracing Project
    This is a project very near and dear to my heart. A few years ago, my husband decided that he was tired of mowing our sloped lawn in his golf shoes. He had already lost the lawnmower once or twice when it...
  • How To Save Money On Construction Materials
    public domain photo HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS When you think of construction materials, we often think of building a new house. However, construction materials are necessary for...
  • How to Save Money on Landscaping
    Just about everyone either wants or enjoys looking at a beautifully manicured lawn. While some avoid landscaping because of the time it could take to maintain, others avoid outdoor yard projects because they...


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 25, 2011:

Jaye - That is wonderful that you have someone who does so well....I work outside as much as I can because that's where my pups are as well but it gets harder and harder as the years go by. I try and keep it as simple now as I possibly can and leave the heavy jazz to Bob~!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on January 25, 2011:

I love to read about gardening and wish I still had the full mobility to participate in it fully. My landscaping must be done by someone else, which means I must pay. However, there is a way to be somewhat frugal with that aspect. I discovered a young lady who started her own lawn services business. She told me she is not an expert on the names of plants, but is successful in planting and maintaining them. She doesn't charge an arm and a leg, so I don't care if she's conversant with the Latin names of plants, just that she plants them right side up! JAYE

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 25, 2011:

Thank you so much, Hanna for stopping by always~!

Darski - you are too kind....I love gardening so these are all things I'm familiar with in my 'other' spare time!

Darlene Sabella from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ... on January 25, 2011:

Now this is a perfectly written hub, wow, um I can't think of anything you missed and yes this is another great way to save, and it's good for your health. Did you know that "Dirt" breathing it is good for you, healthy. Rate up love & peace darski

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 25, 2011:

Very detailed and comprehensive hub.

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