Spending time in your garden is one of life’s simplest and most affirming pleasures. But there’s no denying that designing, implementing and maintaining a desirable outdoor space can become a financial drain. When belts need tightening as your bank account falls into the red, gardens can quickly fall to rack and ruin.
But there are a host of ways to spruce up even the most unloved yard that needn’t cost the earth. In face, many methods of improvement require little more investment than your time and patience. The more people you involve, the merrier – what better excuse to revive the rusty barbecue than a mass landscaping party?
Even the smallest changes can make a big difference, so try a few of these spendthrift suggestions and reclaim your garden during the recession.
1. Small but powerful
A sizeable garden may be a dream come true. But then again, it is also considerably more expensive than a medium-sized one. If you’re finding that maintaining a big garden is not within your budget, do the sensible and reduce the space for flowers and plants by covering some areas up with easy-to-maintain stones. This will also save you time when landscaping in the weekends. If you need advice on how to create a lovely stepping-stone path in our yard, absolutely free, take a look at this highly recommended article on gardening from financial website Dollarstretcher.
2. Bookkeeping for gardeners
Due to the financial obligations connected with it, a garden is less like a hobby, but more like a full-time project. For this reason alone, you should treat it with the seriousness it requires and deserves. Keep book of your expenses for your garden and think about opening up a separate account for them – this doesn’t have to be, or perhaps shouldn’t even be, a regular current account, but can be a basic bank account ideal for reducing one’s debt and expenditure.
3. Clear the decks
Trimming, tidying, deadheading and sweeping all need doing, and preferably before you take any other action. A clear space will allow you to accurately assess what you’re working with. Have a look at soil types and areas of light and shade and choose accordingly.
4. Make it work for you
Consider your lifestyle. Do you need a family-friendly space where children and animals can tumble around without creating chaos? Or do you desire a zen-like space you’re happy to tend for hours on end? Perhaps garden that takes care of itself when you’re busy is more your style? What you may initially think of as ‘the perfect garden’ will end up being anything but, if it’s not perfect for your needs.
5. Freely inspired
Draw inspiration from anywhere and everywhere- beautiful blogs, visits to local free-admission parks and gardens, period dramas and films, or even just poking around the gardens of people you know. When you’re raring to go, underpin your enthusiasm with expertise gleaned from garden centre factsheets, TV shows, free magazines, trustworthy online forums and the many books available at the local library.
6. Waste not
Poor quality soils will thank you for a good dose of quality compost, which you can create and maintain from the everyday food waste in your kitchen. Many local authorities provide counter-top containers you can use to ferry kitchen scraps out to your main pile, which, when rotted down, is a free treat for the garden.
7. Deck out your deck for free
Check out websites which list unwanted goods, such as local FreeCycle networks or Freegle , where you can pick up anything from garden furniture and water features to power tools and equipment for absolutely nothing, providing you can arrange a pick-up.
8. A lick of paint
Garden fences and furniture come in such a narrow spectrum of colours – so don’t fret too much over making it all match. Instead, create your own custom colour palette. Buy an industrial-sized container of white emulsion and browse household paint ranges for those diminutive tester pots in a full spectrum of colours. Even a few pots mixed into the white yields a surprisingly dynamic hue. You can go as pale or bold as budget allows, but be sure to mix enough to complete the job, as colour-matching is a tricky business.
9. Inject Colour
Staring at a flowerbed studded with bright blooms lifts the spirits like nothing else. Don’t worry too much about sourcing specific varieties here – just have fun with a few supermarket and garden centre specimens whose appearance brings you the most joy. Sow with abandon and watch duller growing spaces light up with spots of colour. Keep it cheap and, if a plant doesn’t take, it’s a minor disappointment. If it thrives, however, garden life will be that little bit brighter.
10. Buy hardy
When it comes to the crops that you’re investing more cash on, there’s nothing worse than watching them wither at the first sign of a frost. Research notoriously robust, hardy varieties and use these to form a solid foundation for your space, rather than more fickle specimens which would leave the garden looking barren should they fail.
11. Get green fingered with sad specimens
Don’t bypass those sagging seedlings if they’re being sold off at a serious knock-down price. Take a really good look and consider whether they might be ripe for salvaging. With some careful tending, a good drink of water and a nourishing soil, many ailing plants can spring back to life.
12. Grow to eat
Growing edible crops is a canny move, helping you cut your food spend as you improve your garden. Choose fruit and veg varieties practically – olive trees may look fetching, but will provide little sustenance. Potatoes, pumpkins, lettuces and root veggies, on the other hand, are low maintenance and high yield. Be sure to pick things you won’t mind feasting on in times of glut- tomatoes, French beans and soft fruits are all good options that also look great.
These suggestions are, naturally, merely a point of departure. For further reference, gardening magazine Better Homes and Gardens offers plenty of useful ideas on how to stun your guests while remaining in the black.
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Reporting from London, William Masters has established himself as respected journalist for topics ranging from international economics and personal finance. To Masters, finance is like gardening, both dealing with how to make the most with limited means. In terms of banking, William recommends eccount money, a leader in the field of companies specialising in helping people with debt and improving their budget.