A garden enhances your space’s beauty, reduces stress and boosts productivity. But the benefits of plants can warrant substantial expenses. Maintenance of a basic small to medium-sized garden can incur an annual expense of $100-$200. But there are ways you can cut down on these.
In this guide, I’ll share practical ways to reduce garden maintenance expenses and improve your garden’s health and appearance in the process.
Tips to reduce garden maintenance expenses
Garden maintenance typically involves these activities:
- Adding new plants to the garden bed
- Cutting/removing large hedges, dead plants or trees
Here’s how you can reduce how much you spend on these activities:
Select plants with care
#1 in my garden maintenance tips, select garden plants with care. Don’t pick plants just because they’re trending, or you like how they look.
Every plant you include in your garden plan should be guaranteed the following:
- The amount of light/shade it requires
- Ideal soil conditions
- Sufficient growing space
Plants growing in less than ideal conditions typically have poor health. They’re also at a high risk of developing pests and disease related issues. The additional care, fertilization, weeding and treating pests/diseases will add to your expenses. So, before you buy a plant, look up its growth requirements and whether your garden can supply them. Native plants should be your first preference. Plants that grow naturally in your region have a high probability of doing well in your garden. These are typically a lot easier to care for and less demanding than exotic plant varieties. That directly translates to low maintenance expenses. Growing native plants also helps in preserving biodiversity and supports your local wildlife. They can help attract hummingbirds and butterflies, making your garden livelier.
When choosing plants for your garden, be mindful of their mature height and spread. Plants cramped for space will require more frequent pruning. They may also suffer from lack of aeration, which promotes pest and disease problems. Be careful when picking a container for your plants. The containers should be spacious enough to accommodate the plants’ mature size. They should include drainage holes. Also, they should be made from the right material. A plastic container for a sun-loving plant is often a bad idea. The plastic can get deformed in the sun over time and you’ll need to invest in repotting. Other factors you should consider when choosing a container are the expected foot traffic and weather conditions. If there’s a chance of your plants getting toppled by an accidental kick or strong wind, always pick heavy, sturdy containers.
Mulch the right way
Mulching is one of the best ways of creating a low maintenance garden. It has multiple benefits:
- Mulching enhances water retention in the soil. You’ll need to spend less water to irrigate your plants, save at least a few bucks in the process.
- Mulching regulates soil temperatures. This promotes healthy root development which directly influences the plants’ health.
- Mulching helps prevent soil erosion. Wind, rainfall, even bright sun can contribute to soil erosion.
- Mulching helps control weeds. Mulch prevents the germination of weed seeds, which means you don’t have to spend on weeding.
- Mulching improves the soil by improving the population of beneficial microbes. Naturally rich soil reduces the need for fertilization.
You can use garden refuse such as grass clippings, wood chips, bark, leaves and compost as organic mulch. Just make sure not to include parts of diseased plants/trees. Landscape fabric, newspaper and black plastic are some other materials you can use for mulching. The period of mid-late spring is ideal for mulching. Before you begin, make sure you’ve removed all weeds from the site. Next, use a rake and remove all debris, sticks, leaves etc. from the site. Cultivate the soil using a rototiller or hand cultivator. This will loosen the soil, enhance aeration and moisture absorption. The layer of mulch should be 2-4 inches deep. Mulch deeper and you’ll risk suffocating the soil. Once the mulch is in place, you’ll need to check it at regular intervals. Keep an eye out for weeds, mold and fungus. Remove any you come across.
Consider artificial plants
Including artificial plants and trees is an effective way to reduce garden maintenance expenses as well as the effort involved. Realistic plants and trees are very hard to tell apart from the real ones. You won’t have to water, fertilize or prune them. In addition, you can pick all the exotic, demanding and hard to grow plants you like. Green moss balls, green walls and topiaries can be customized to fit any space and design. I’d recommend you consider the site’s environmental conditions when choosing artificial plants. Is the site subject to harsh conditions—bright sun, strong wind or rain? Then I’d suggest you invest in artificial plants and trees made from weather-resistant materials. Artificial trees and plants are more than just eye-candy. Materials such as ThermaLeaf® by Plantscape Commercial Silk are composed of fire retardant chemicals. They’ll make your garden low maintenance, pretty and safe.
Carry out regular maintenance
A surefire way to reduce garden maintenance expenses is to be regular at taking care of minor maintenance tasks. This will prevent situations such as a sick or dying tree which can make a big dent in your wallet. Regular inspection and trimming will help keep your trees in good health. As such, they’ll be able to better withstand harsh weather and infections. The same goes for all the other plants in your garden. Taking the time to monitor them at regular intervals will allow you to identify a problem before it becomes an emergency. Spot insect pests early and you can save yourself the costs of chemical pesticides and replacing dead plants. Every garden needs maintenance. Doesn’t mean it should be a lot of work and expenditure. Follow these tips, give your garden the time and attention it requires, and you’ll reduce garden maintenance expenses by a big margin.