Landscaping isn't just a great way to improve your home's curb appeal - it's also one of the best home improvement projects for boosting your home's value. With strategic landscaping, you can even shade your home to reduce cooling costs in the summer. Of course, the cost of landscaping can add up. Whether you're landscaping your front yard or adding living space to your backyard, the good news is there are plenty of ways to achieve a stunning, professional look for less.
1. Shop and Share Cooperatively
Buying in bulk can save you a bundle with mature plants, seeds and mulch. Try to share expenses with neighbours, friends, and family. You may want to combine a purchase with a neighbour to split the cost, for example, or trade cuttings from perennials that are getting too big to get more variety.
2. Think Outside the Box
There are many places to look for good deals on quality plants. Your local nursery will likely have a large selection but they will typically have the highest prices unless you shop the discount section. You can also look for plants at local garden groups, flea markets, and yard sales or you can turn to websites like GardenWeb and World Plant Exchange, or search Facebook to find plant-swapping groups around Calgary.
3. Try Shopping Online
It may seem strange but you can even find great plants online. Ordering trees and plants online can save you money and give you access to the best variety of plants. Depending on the plant, you can choose seeds to grow yourself or plants that are shipped bare root, which means they aren't in much soil. If you go this route, make sure you do your research and plan ahead. Because you aren't buying from a local nursery, you will need to make sure the plants can grow well in the area. The plants may not arrive until their growing season or they may be dormant when you get them.
4. Buy Toward the End of the Season
When you're looking for a good deal, the best time to buy is during the late summer and early fall when nurseries begin to clear out their inventories. Tropical plants like hibiscus may not look like much now but you can give them extra attention in a sunny area indoors until they're ready to be transplanted outside in the spring. Perennials may have lost their blooms for now but they'll be ready to shine again next year.
5. Mix Annuals and Perennials
Perennials come back year after year but they cost more at first. Annuals, on the other hand, only last for one growing season but come in a greater variety. To get the best effect, choose perennials that will serve as a good foundation for your landscaping and combine them with a selection of showy but affordable annuals. Once your perennials begin to grow, you can even split them into multiple plants to expand your landscaping without increasing your budget.
6. Buy Mulch in Bulk
Using mulch around your landscaping creates a beautiful and professional look and also helps the soil hold moisture. This means less watering and better protection for your plants in the summer. Mulch can also reduce the number of weeds in your garden and improve the soil as it decomposes. Always buy bulk mulch because it can cost half the price of bagged mulch, a huge savings if you have a large area to mulch. You can even get free mulch at the Spyhill and East Calgary landfills but you will need to load it yourself.
7. Start Composting
Building a compost bin is an easy and fun way to landscape on a budget. Compost can be used to amend your soil and feed your plants without the high cost of fertilizer. Setting up a compost bin is easier than you may think. Choose a container and add leaves and kitchen scraps, mixing and watering occasionally, to create your own compost. The City of Calgary also offers free compost for residents if you don't want your own compost bin.
8. Install Paver Hardscapes
Hardscape tends to be the most expensive part of any landscaping project but it doesn't need to be. If you're willing to spend a weekend in the backyard, paver patios and stone walkways are easy projects even for beginners. There's a very low learning curve for setting stone, brick, or pavers in a sand base. It may even be possible to create a layout and pattern that doesn't require any cutting. If you do need to cut pavers, you can do it by scoring the cut with a circular saw and a diamond blade, then striking it with a hammer and masonry chisel
9. Start with a Plan
The best way to save money on your landscaping project is starting with a clear plan in mind. Sketch out how you want your landscaping to look. Create zones and distinct spaces to give your property a designer look. Do plenty of research on local growing conditions, the type of soil you have, and which plants grow best in Calgary. You may also want to focus on plants that are native to the area which will ensure your landscaping will thrive and require less water.
With careful planning, you can avoid overspending or buying plants that won't survive. As you consider plant types and placement, don't forget to plan for their mature size. Your landscaping may look a bit sparse for the first year but the plants will slowly fill in the space. This can stretch your landscaping budget further and save you from dividing or moving plants later.
Creating your own landscape design and slowly transforming the exterior of your home is one of the most exciting aspects of homeownership. It's also a great way to increase your home's appeal and value. To stay on budget, try to approach your landscaping in stages rather than throwing yourself into a costly landscaping project for the front and the back all at once.