1. Do it yourself: Don’t pay someone else to dig, plant, cut and prune for you. In addition to saving money, the exercise will make your feel better. If working in the yard makes you grown – get over it.
2. Set your mower deck higher: set it at its highest setting (or at lease higher than you do now. Don’t bag..leave the clippings where they fall. You save on fertilizer and your lawn will look better. Clippings don’t cause thatch, fertilizer does.
3. Make your own weed killer: vinegar, salt and dish soap, evidently boiling water kills weeds, and gin dish soap and vinegar. Evidently the vinegar kills the weed, salt keeps it from growing back, and soap sticks to the weed so the first two things can work. Amounts vary from recipe to recipe (or is it a formulation…again I digress) and do not appear to be very important. As the salt sticks around for a bit, you need to wait a little before replanting. [Didn’t someone sale fields in the bible or something?]
4. Get your tools at yard sales and use hand tools. Never pay retail. Good tools last forever. Power tools use gas, stink, pollute your yard and the world at large, and leave you smelling like gasoline after you are done. Oh yeah, they are expensive too.
5. Compost. Make your own dirt. Don’t buy a bin, you don’t need one. Dig a hole. Make a pile. If you just pile up everything that was once once alive [and not an animal] that is left over from your kitchen, you will have compost in six to nine months. If you follow the rules and mix your compose and turn it, you can have some super dirt in two to three months.
6. Make your own mulch. Shred your leaves with you lawn mower. Contact a tree service and ask for chipped branches. You may get them for free since you will save the company the dumping fee. Be prepared though, it doesn’t look as nice as bought mulch but it works great on your garden and saves money. You may also consider stones or pebbles, the initial outlay is higher but they don’t have to be replaced. A truck load of local stone costs less than you think.
7. Divide plants, share seedlings, ask you neighbors. Talk to you neighbors and see if they have any plants that need dividing. Join a garden club or plant exchange. Look for sale by garden clubs and botanical gardens.
8. Watering. Get a rain barrel. You don’t need some expensive system. Contact your water department or look for recycled plastic barrels. Use soaker hoses in your beds and garden; you will use much less water. Water deeply once or twice per week. Daily, short watering make for shallow roots and unhealthy plants.
9. Grow Vegetables and Herbs. The saving will take to be realized but you can save a lot of money growing your own food. The savings will only increase over time. Especially if you follow the above tips. See my previous post for a calculator on gardening savings.
10. Cancel your cable and get outside in your yard.
John C. Shelton is a recovering attorney, husband, father of two, and newbie blogger. After 15 years in the wilderness (lawyers, on whole are a cranky lot) he is looking for health, happiness, and satisfaction. He started baking his own bread and gardening somewhat late in life.
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