Boost your Curb Appeal: Tips for gardening on a budget
In the past few articles I have mentioned what has come to be my pride and joy, my new house. After 5 years of living in downtown San Diego, in a very modern loft apartment, I was delighted to move to my quiet suburban house in nearby Kensington. Delighted and also baffled, as I now had not just the backyard I always wanted but a front yard as well and most of the plants in it were dead due to 9 months of neglect while the house was vacant.
How hard could it possibly be? Water the lawn, fertilize the plants, and that is about the extend of my knowledge when it comes to all things sprouting out of the ground. I know my sister said in her Monday article that I had a green thumb but my new found botanical success of late came from many hours of researching garden magazines and online tips from the pros.
When I got back to home base after the holidays, my new mission was giving my home’s curb appeal a boost which meant finishing the front flower bed once and for all. I usually don’t have a problem investing a little bit of money in a project if I know it will eventually increase the overall value of the house, the problem was, that after the holidays Mark and I had little to no budget for this undertaking. It was time to hit up the big dogs from the Better Homes and Garden website for information on what I could I do.
After a few days of heavy research, I came up with a plan of execution and gave myself a budget of roughly $150. There are a few essentials when planning a garden on a budget and if you follow them closely you can really stretch those dollars.
Measure and study your space: It is extremely important to dig that tape measure out of the drawer and figure out your exact space. I also like to sketch a diagram on a piece of graph paper so that I will get a feel for what color plants I want, where I will put them, and how many I will need factoring in how much space they will require when full-grown. Knowing how much space you have will help you avoid over buying when the time comes to shop. You can also use this sketch to ask the pros at the nursery what they recommend for that particular space. Also study how much sun your space gets so you don’t accidentally buy sun-loving plants for under a shady tree. (made this mistake and it was costly and disheartening)
Research your plants- Gardening is harder than it looks and I was extremely overwhelmed when I started to dive into the different types of annuals and perennials I could choose. My advice, dont reinvent the wheel! First, figure out the look you are going for ie: cottage, succulent, english garden etc. and what growing zone you are in. This is imperative when you are trying to find the right plants that will survive in your climate. Then go online and download a free garden plan on a site like BHG.com. These are actually categorized by type of garden and no matter how big the plan is they give online you can either plus or minus plants depending on the measurements you took from the previous step. I spent over $300 on plants that were way overpriced so I could get a customized garden plan from the nursery when I first moved into the house, don’t make the same mistake. Save big by doing your due diligence and capitalize on free online information before you step foot in a nursery.
Shop Around: When I first moved into the house this summer, I went to the big nursery chain up the street, that I was familiar with, to get my plants for my first big project. The garden plan, plants, and soil material came to a hefty $350 with the nice touch of free delivery included. This week, when I went to work on my second garden space, I researched and found a wholesale nursery 30 minutes away. Well that was it, I threw Ranger in the front seat and covered the back of my Tiguan in towels and set off for the wholesale lot. It was amazing, the Miramar Wholesale Nursery is 200 acres of every single type of plant you can imagine for 1/5 of the price. If you have just a tad more time to invest than money, then this is your choice. Your wholesale lot will usually give you a map, but besides that you take your car and your plan and you are on your own. By doing this I was able to get the same amount of plants and type of plants for $106! I had never been so happy to be covered in dirt!
Compost instead of Fertilize: Starting a compost pile is an easy and cost effective way to fertilize your plants. Discard any dead leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable leftovers from either your garden or your dinner table into the pile and this will create a very nutrient rich option for your gardens health.
I guess, as with most projects around the house, time is money. The amount you put into researching your needs, options, and products will eventually help to save you the big bucks in the end!