Giving your yard a new lease on life doesn’t have to cost you the earth.
Beautiful gardens can be much cheaper if you’re willing to work for it.
Image via Shutterstock.
Get a land plan: Yes, this may cost money if you pay a landscaper for a consultation. However, it’s going to do wonders for your backyard in the long run if you observe the way rainfall and runoff flow through the yard and make notes on how light falls in certain places throughout the day and throughout the seasons.
Work out the water: After getting a land plan, you’ll be able to properly plan the grading (the slope) of your backyard in a way that maximises control of water flow, especially after a heavy session of rain. Observe the yard before, during and after rain – make note of any areas where runoff-related erosion is a problem, then develop your terrain plan accordingly.
Pick proper plants: If this is your first foray into gardening, it may be frustrating to learn that your favourite plants from Cairns don’t suit the climate of Sydney, or that the exotic bamboo is actually a pest and will take over your entire backyard if you don’t keep a watchful eye on it. Ask a local gardener for their tips or check out a climate map such as the one found here in order to see what will thrive in your home.
Buy in bulk: For things like mulch, woodchips, gravel and other landscaping items, do a bit of research before heading straight to the hardware store. Some landscaping companies will drop as much mulch right to your doorstep for a low price.
Or, buy free!: Some city councils around Sydney provide free mulch, provided you have a vehicle to pick it up. If you see a cutting in a neighbours yard that you’d also like in yours, offer to trade. Check demolition sites for bricks and stones – but be sure to ask the right person for permission before picking them up.
Work with what you’ve got: Got a nice fern that’s seen better days? Working to preserve existing plants and trees will help you save money, materials, resources and effort required for a replanting.
Do it yourself: It’s a pretty obvious one, but doing as much work as is possible by yourself is the best way to save money when landscaping.
… But know when to bring in the big guns, too: For jobs that require more muscle or design skills, hire a professional landscaper and leave the simpler tasks for when you have time.
Go down the road less travelled: Think outside the box for bargains. Botanical centres and gardening clubs often hold plant sales for much cheaper than you would see in a nursery.
Plan around the foundations: Remember that roots are hardy and can damage concrete blocks, so if you’re planning to go large with trees, plant them at least 10 metres from solid structures.
How much can you be bothered?: You may be more than willing to put in the hard yards to accomplish a backyard makeover, but if there is a lot of future maintenance involved that you will need to hire a gardener for, be prepared to pay the price.
Getting rid of the junk: In the midst of the plants flying, the wood sawn and the garish birdbath abandoned, there will be a lot of rubbish made and needing to be thrown out. Hiring a skip bin for the waste is the easiest way to get rid of it – the company will drop it off and pick it up for you.
Divide and conquer: Look around the yard and see if you can divide one plant into more. This will save you money and effort going to the nursery, while ensuring consistency in your landscaping.
Don’t waste it, compost it: Save your pennies on fertiliser by making your own using waste and food scraps. Make a compost pile with a 2 x 4 box and some chicken wire, put it in the back corner and make sure that you turn it over every other week or so.
Be water smart: Outdoor water use constitutes almost 20% of total water use in the home. Choosing plants that are drought-tolerant will do wonders for your water bill.