When I was a kid, I never thought I would type the following sentence:
I really enjoy yard work.
Seriously. I look forward to mowing the lawn, planting plants, raking leaves, and just spending time around the house, sprucing things up.
I also like sharing money saving tips, and here are a few of mine, for saving money on lawn care. These are things I actually do (or have done) to save money and time.
Use Leaves and Pine Straw as Mulch
I live in the South, and have pine trees and oak trees in my backyard. We use fallen leaves and pine straw as mulch. The pine straw looks nice in flower beds and around shrubbery, while the leaves are reserved for a shady area underneath the kids’ swing set.
Leave a Portion of the Yard Alone
As our house sits, we basically have three sections of lawn – the front lawn, the back lawn, and a side lawn. The front lawn and back lawn are mostly centipede grass, and are well-maintained, but we keep the side lawn, for the most part, alone. Our kids’ swing set sits underneath a small stand of shade trees, grass doesn’t grow very well in this section of the yard, so we just let the leaves fall, pick up a few tree limbs from time to time, and that’s about it. It’s cool to have the pretty manicured lawns – and a small part of the property that feels a bit more natural.
Build and Use a Compost Pile / Bin
I just finished building my compost bin instead of burning yard waste – or throwing vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps into the trash – I’m using them to create awesome compost. This saves money, and bit of landfill space.
Plant Shade / Fruit Trees
I have already planted two trees in our backyard and in just a few years, they will provide shade for both our house and our kids’ playhouse. I also plan to plant apple and pear trees next year. Free fruit, more shade, and less yard to mow. Win, win, win.
Keep Things Tidy
I have an electric, battery-powered leaf blower that I love. I use it two or three times a week to keep our carport, sidewalk, and back porch clean. It’s much easier to keep things clean – and keep them from getting dirty – when I spend a few minutes each day working in the yard.
Buy Plants in the Fall
Again, I live in the South, so our summer growing season is a bit longer than some places in the country. As such, there are great deals on shrubbery, trees, and even flowers to be found at the local nursery. Seriously. A few weeks ago, I purchased some shrubs, regularly priced at $12 per, for just $4 per. Shop around – and think local. A local nursery owner will know exactly which plants are appropriate for where you live.
I have a pressure washer, but I don’t own a tiller. My neighbor recently borrowed my pressure washer, and next spring, I’ll borrow his tiller. If you can’t find folks to share, you might look into renting tools, especially if you are only going to use them once or twice.
Build a Rain Barrel to Catch Rain Water
As I mentioned a few days ago, I recently built and installed a rain barrel. I am very happy to report that the rain barrel is working perfectly – and my new shrubs are strong and healthy.
Leave The Leaves?
When we moved into our house in February, there were leaves all over our yard. The previous owner had chosen, like lots of folks do, to simply allow the leaves to pile up, and was planning to rake them up in the spring. Me, personally? While it might save me a few bucks or a few hours, I’m against letting the leaves pile up. I have a mulching-blade on my lawn mower and I plan to mow the yard, three or four times this winter. I’m not sure if this is a money-saver, but it helps me feel better about how the yard looks.
Increase the Size of Flower Beds
In the front yard, there is a small flower bed. When we moved in, I just planted a half-dozen shrubs in the bed, added a bit of pine straw, and called it a day. After several months of looking out the window and seeing the bed, I’m unimpressed with its layout. In a few weeks, I’m going double the size of the bed. This will decrease the area of lawn to-be-mowed and watered – and increase visual interest.
Buy Your Kids a Pair of Work Gloves
This is for those who have kids, and are looking for a way to spend more time with them. Recently, I went to the home improvement store, and purchased a new pair of work gloves. My son, six, was there with me – and asked for a pair of his own. I think they cost me 3 bucks, but have more than paid for themselves. Now, instead of being afraid to get his hands dirty, or pick up worms, or pull weeds, he puts on his gloves and feels like a yard working super-hero. A couple of Saturdays ago, he helped me trim the shrubbery in the front yard. He learned how to use the shears and the rake – and we had a blast.