Do It Yourself Landscaping Tips

Landscaping your home may seem a daunting and expensive challenge, but there are several ways to minimize costs and maximize results. A “Do It Yourself” (DIY) attitude is best to get the most for your money, and many aspects of landscaping require only basic tools and some elbow grease.

Take Charge of Your Outdoor Space Without Breaking the Bank When You Do It Yourself

The following information will help you take landscaping into your own hands:

Laying Sod

Laying sod is a lot quicker, and more aesthetically pleasing, than toiling with grass seed and hoping you get the desired results. Sod is generally more expensive than grass seed, but you get what you see. Get online or call a local sod provider to find out what kinds work best in your area. Research the water and fertilization needs, weather and traffic tolerance of any sod type you consider. Determine the type(s) you want, measure the area to be covered, and contact several vendors in your area. Inquire if any excess stock or particular type is available at a reduced price and factor in delivery cost as needed. Place your order with the selected vendor, and you can have a beautiful sod lawn in 5 easy steps . A square point and/or spade shovel and garden rake are essential for this and most other landscaping tasks, so be sure to have these on hand. A rototiller may be helpful if preparing a large or particularly hard soil area for sod application, so consider renting instead of buying if you consider a rototiller necessary.

Check this post for Step by Step Instructions to Laying Sod

Laying a Patio

Determine if you want a brick patio or flagstone patio unless you have something else in mind. Contact multiple vendors including landscape and/or construction companies that may have overstock or imperfect materials for purchase at a reduced price. Broken pieces of brick or stone can give an eclectic and unique appearance to a patio.

A sand surface may be used as a base for the patio, but other soil types may need a layer of sand or cinders to serve as the patio base. When buying sand or cinders, purchase in bulk quantity (versus bags) to save money and time. Picking the materials up will save money, but the cost of delivery may compensate for time and effort. Also consider spacing in your patio design – the further apart pieces are, the less material will be needed. Sand or cinders can fill the spaces between rather than concrete.

The patio perimeter will need to be secured unless the patio itself is entirely recessed into the ground with the native soil serving as a border. Landscape timbers partially recessed in the ground are an easy and cost effective way to form a boundary around a squared patio. Small cut sections of timber can provide a semi-angular boundary around a curved patio, but rubber landscape edging is a reasonable way to keep the smooth edges of a curved patio. Any border material should be at least partially buried in the ground to assure it stays in place over time.

Building a Deck

Building a deck will likely require a permit if attaching it to your home or another permanent structure. Most permits can be avoided if the deck is detached, and a hand railing may not be needed if the deck is 18 inches or less off the ground. Check with your city or local authority regarding permits.

Local home improvement stores or lumber yards can provide price comparisons based on the size specifications and type of wood you want. Contact construction and/or lumber surplus yards for availability of used or excess material at a reduced price. Untreated lumber may be less expensive, but it should be sealed manually to resist weather, so gauge the cost difference versus your time and effort. A hand or power saw will be needed for the job as well as a hammer or nail gun. Equipment you don’t own may be rented.

Outdoor Furniture

Flea markets and thrift stores are great places to search for your “new” outdoor furniture. Yard sales can also be a gold mine of treasures, but if yard sales aren’t prevalent at the time you’re looking, check in your local newspaper or online “for sale” ads in your area. People cleaning out their garages, sheds, attics, etc. may be trying to get rid of patio furniture in the middle of winter. Also look in the clearance section at your favorite outdoor furniture stores. Keep in mind that you can paint chairs and tables, swap out cushions, add an umbrella or simply mix and match to make an outdoor set of your own.

 

 

Flower Beds

Determine the location, size and shape of the beds you want to construct. Loosen and smooth the soil in preparation for planting, and use a square point shovel, hand or power edger to dig a small ditch-like edge along the perimeter of each bed. The bed edges should be maintained and may be lined with landscape timbers or rubber edging (the most inexpensive options) recessed partially into the ground. Apply weed mat or plastic to the entire surface area of the bed to minimize weed growth. This is an up front cost that will reduce maintenance cost, time and effort in the future. Natural colored bark mulch is the most cost effective cover for your beds. However, avoid using bark against structures containing wood since it may attract termites. Applying small stones in a thin layer to beds against structures may be the best option. Alternating between bark and stone from one bed to another or integrating both in different sections of each bed can be attractive and much less expensive than using all stone. Be creative, and don’t forget to buy materials in bulk when possible.

Check Out: How to Landscape with Roses

Plants

Choose plants that are suitable for your climate and appropriate for the sun exposure they will receive once planted. Also keep in mind that bigger is not always better. Plants grow and need room to expand, so go small and save your money. If you have space to fill in, buy a series of ground cover plants. They are very affordable and easy to plant. Many have flowers of at least one color and are attractive when not in bloom. As their name states, too, they will quickly grow to cover the ground with little attention needed.

For larger plants, check clearance items at local stores. Popular plants are typically more expensive, so search for look-alike plants that are similar but less expensive. Otherwise, go for a smaller more affordable size in the popular plant. It will grow to the desired size before you know it.

Neighbors and friends are often likely to give you something from their yard, too. Many plants proliferate and take over, so you may be able to take some “extras” that someone else is all too happy to part with. Also consider requesting a cut of a friend or neighbor’s vine plant. A little snip from a grown plant will easily take root and start spreading in your own yard.

Landscape Accents

Small sections of lattice or fence are very affordable and serve as perfect ladders for vine plants. They can also conceal heating and air conditioning units, provide privacy or simply serve as landscape accents. Large stones and/or driftwood may be acquired at no cost and added to the landscape, too, so keep your eyes open if walking on the beach, in the woods or elsewhere outdoors. That clay pot stashed in your closet or random figurine you have no place for in your house may find a home outdoors, too. Giving your outdoor space personality can be easy and inexpensive.

Check Out: 5 Do-It-Yourself Landscaping Design Ideas

You are now ready to tackle some of those landscape projects you may have been avoiding. Get some tools together and get your hands dirty. DIY doesn’t mean “do-it-alone,” so gather the family or wrangle some friends up for a barbeque and sod-throwing party. Your outdoor space is an extension of your home, so treat it that way. The pride and sense of accomplishment can last a lifetime.

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