In my last article I talked about the importance of investing in your landscaping – especially in this economy. Here’s how to make smart choices that will give you the best results.
Take stock of what you have – That giant azalea may still have some blooms left on it, but if it is blocking your windows, has lots of bare, leggy branches and is misshapen from years of neglect, it may be time to remove it. A new plant – healthy and appropriately scaled – is a better investment than money and effort spent on reshaping a plant whose time has come. That said, you may have some “gems” that are simply in need of some TLC to bring them back to life – for those plants, a proper pruning and regular feeding may be all that is needed.
Be water-wise – Statistically, outside watering can represent up to 20% of your water bill. Two ways to conserve water: install an irrigation system and select, wherever possible, drought-tolerant plants. A drip irrigation system is possibly the best investment you can make in your garden. It pays for itself by conserving water and delivering it exactly where needed – at the base of the plants – and in the appropriate amounts depending on prevailing weather conditions. Overhead watering (i.e., sprinkler or hose) is extremely wasteful as most of the water evaporates before reaching the ground. And as far as your plants are concerned it is the least desirable method of irrigation. Excess moisture that remains on the foliage (especially during humid weather) can lead to a host of problems, such as powdery mildew and fungi. Use a bib coupling (Like this one) to avoid those problems.
Drought-tolerant plants, once established, require very little water. These rugged plants are typically low-maintenance too – making them a win-win for the gardener.
Hire a professional – this may seem counter-intuitive in an article intended to show you how to save money – but there are some tasks that, if done professionally, will keep costs down. For example, you will want to consider having any sizeable trees professionally planted. Proper preparation of both the planting hole and the root ball of the tree are essential to ensuring that the tree survives and flourishes.
And if you don’t have the budget for a full-scale landscape design, consider hiring a designer on a consulting basis, or for a one-time meeting. Even if you are planting your garden yourself, a landscape designer can help assess your site conditions and maintenance needs and even provide a “short list” of plants that can take some of the guesswork out of planning your garden. This can save money in terms of reducing or eliminating costly mistakes due to buying the wrong plant for the wrong location.
Maintaining your landscaping is more important now than ever – both for the property value of your home as well as the quality of your day-to-day life.
Enjoy your garden!