Cost-Effective Approaches for Summer Ready Yards

With barbecuing season right around the corner many families are getting their homes and yards ready for the long summer ahead. This season not only means cookouts and family get-togethers, but also usually means more eyes than usual gazing over the landscapes that surround these events. Although American households on average spend only about 1% of their annual household income on their yards, that can still be a hefty amount of money that is usually concentrated during this time of year.

Although buying expensive plants and hiring a professional service can be an easy way to impress family and friends during these months, there are many cost-effective steps that individuals and their families can do to improve the appeal of the outside of their home while not breaking the bank this summer. All it takes a little time, ability to do some physical labor, and a bit of planning.

When picking out plants and flowers to accent the home many individuals focus on the colors and blooms. What is actually more important is selecting cost-effective plants that look appealing year round. When you focus on blooms rather than the plant itself your yard may look great during the blooming season, but what happens the rest of the year? Selecting plants with interesting foliage, different textures and designs, and colors within the foliage itself will ensure that plants not only look pleasing during the late spring and early summer months, but also year round. It is also important to select plants that are native to the region in which you live. While exotic plants may be attractive, they also cost more and are usually a lot more work. More work means more time, more water, more fertilizer, and overall more money spent to make sure that they thrive in your yard. Native plants on the other hand are usually cheaper and require much less care to maintain, making them a long-term cost effective solution to landscaping needs.

One of the largest costs of landscaping is the fertilizer and lawn care to make grass greener and weed free. Paying a professional to regularly upkeep a yard will easily cost hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Do-it-yourself homeowners often see this as a way to save some money by purchasing a couple big bags of fertilizers from a home improvement store and spreading it themselves. While this can certainly bring down the costs of spreading fertilizer, it may not get the professional looking lawn homeowners are looking for. A better option is doing it yourself, but doing some homework to find a good fertilizer that works for your region. Going to a local gardening store to ask some questions may lead you to a slightly more expensive fertilizer, but the results will be well worth the money and will be more cost-effective in the long run.

Finally, planning is key to producing a great looking and cost effective landscaping project. Planning will ensure that individuals don’t spend beyond a budget and ensure that they get the most for their budget. Doing a little research in the planning process can help individuals figure out where they can go with cheaper options and what parts of their landscaping plan need to be more of an investment. Planning will allow individuals to also time larger purchases during months when they are cheaper. Lumber for outdoor building projects for example, is usually cheaper during colder winter months and planning ahead can really cut some costs. Overall planning is a key tool for you and your family to cut costs, to find the best solutions and options for your yard, and create the most cost-effective landscaping project possible.

Sources: National Gardening Association

Stephen Padgett

Stephen Padgett

Stephen Padgett is a current junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is working toward a BA in Economics and Political Science and plans on graduating early in December of 2012. Although he does not know what he wants to do for his career, he is looking forward to an opportunity with Credit Suisse’s Operations Team this summer in Raleigh.

Financially Stephen grew up in a family that preached saving and living below your means. That, in part, translated to his interest in Economics, especially how economics can affect individuals’ financial lives. Through his financial markets class in the fall of 2011, he furthered this interest by analyzing macroeconomic events. Stephen believes that finance, personal finance in particular, is a subject severely left out when it comes to public schooling in this country, and it is a problem that has manifested itself and contributed to many of the problems seen today. He also believes that education is the key to improvement and hopes that through his writings he will be able help people learn about finance, macroeconomics, and how to be financially savvy for the future.

In his free time Stephen enjoys playing and watching sports, wakeboarding, sailing, and country music. At UNC he has participated in Strive for College, UNC Dance Marathon, and UNC Relay for Life.
Stephen Padgett

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