15 Ways to Save Money on Landscaping

by on August 16, 2011

Landscaping costs can be downright outrageous!  We got a quote for a 40 foot retaining wall and it was over $9,000, and that didn’t include getting permits.  For our house, we hit the 10 year old mark and the landscaping started to look kind of dated.  Here are some tricks we learned to help us save money on our landscaping.

  1. Do what you can yourself.  Even if you can’t do all of the landscaping, you can probably save money by helping to prep the area by removing old landscaping, outlining the area and coordinating delivery of materials.
  2. If you have a trailer or can borrow one, picking up mulch or rocks can save on hefty delivery charges.  You can also use the trailer to haul away debris.
  3. Save by creating your own landscaping plan.  Go to the library and get as many books as you can with pictures and details of all the plants that grow in your location.  Do your research, draw a map of your project, and start writing in the bushes and trees you’d like to plant.  Take your map to your local garden center and see if one of their experts agree that is is reasonable.  Also, ask them for a discount if you were to purchase everything from them.
  4. Plant small plants, shrubs and trees.  You can save a lot on landscaping by buying younger plants.  For example, a 3 foot tree costs around $25, but a 10 foot tree can cost $200.  Buying dry root plants can also save you money on landscaping.
  5. Plant perennials not annuals.  Perennials may cost a little more the first year, but you save money every year with perennials.
  6. Choose shrubs that grow slow and stay small.  This will save you a lot of time and energy during the pruning season each year.
  7. Choose edible shrubs.  This is of course a personal preference, but we added tons of shrubs that stay small, grow slow, and bear fruit.  For example, we added cherry bushes, jostaberries, blueberries, honeyberries, ligonberries and gooseberries.  They are all ornamental and although they don’t necessarily save you money, they do provide entertainment and many jars of jelly or fresh fruit over the years.
  8. Order your landscaping plants online.  We found that our local garden store would not offer any discounts.  However, many online nurseries have a larger selection and often offer $25 off your $50 order and shipping is often free or very reasonable.  Put in orders for yourself, your spouse and maybe a friend or two to get the $25 off several times.
  9. When it comes to the landscaping work itself, ask around for a friend of a friend that owns a Bobcat. Or find someone on craigslist that owns one that will help you for a reasonable cost.  They can easily clean up the area and carry large amounts of mulch or stone in a relatively short time.
  10. If you need help spreading materials on your landscape, consider asking local high schools, churches or colleges for help finding someone.  You can also find people that are hungry for work on craigslist.  You’ll just have to play contractor if you do this (which also saves you money on your landscape project).
  11. Use plants to control erosion and it will save you money over the years.  We found that the perennial creeping phlox is perfect to fill in holes in rocks and flowers for several months per year.
  12. Diversify your plants and shrubs.  You never know which plants will thrive or die in your specific environment, so choose several varieties.  Also, if disease or bug infestations come, you’ll be safer.
  13. If you are eager to do it yourself make sure you use the right tools.  You can rent saws that cut pavers and landscaping blocks.  You can also rent trenching tools to bury the landscape borders.  Most of these tools can be found at your local hardware store or your Home Depot.
  14. Call diggers hotline.  It’s free and it can save you a lot of hassles if you hit something underground.  I know we’ve dug up coax from the cable company at least twice.
  15. Ask friends and family to help.  I’m sure you’ve helped them move or do some project.  Don’t feel bad asking them for help.  Pay them back with a big barbeque or the next time they need help.  If you have grandkids or teenage children, offer to pay them for their time.  They are much cheaper than professional help and, with this experience, you may save them money on their landscaping when they are older and can do it themselves.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

pocs September 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

I am a do it yourselfer. Although I wouldn’t call my yard landscaped. But it looks pretty good, if I say so myself. When I have run into a problem I have sought out advice or help. Local nurseries are more than willingly to help the home gardner, which can save time and money. I have also gotten wonderful advice from some of the gardening forums on the net. My sister and her hubby are do it yourselfers also. We have combined the expense of tools and equipment as well as the work. We both save a bundle

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Joanne January 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

Having recently completed a fairly ambitious landscaping task I wish I’d seen this post beforehand!. We hired a bobcat – only needed one for a few days and found a company that gave us one for a great price. I think we concentrated on the vision of the finished task and bought huge trees with, like you said, a huge price tag! Buying smaller trees is something I’d consider in the future definitely. Nice post.
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Landscaping Grosse Pointe July 21, 2013 at 7:07 am

For me, the primary action to save money on landscaping is to plan before you buy. Sketch your landscape design on paper before you start planting and building. Knowing exactly what you need and where you’re going to put it helps avoid wasting money.
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Donald Quixote August 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Good advice…another note is not to purchase trees that drop nuts, bark, or lots of branches…they can be a huge pain in years down the road and usually are not worth having a particular tree for. Another note is to not plant fruit trees unless you will be a dedicated fruit picker…rotting fruit on the lawn is not very attractive.

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JD September 16, 2013 at 10:34 pm

The best thing you can do to save money is to plan ahead. Don’t just start adding plants here and there especially if you want to add walkways and other features. Adding too many trees can lead to big problems later.
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Diane November 26, 2013 at 8:23 pm

This is so very interesting. I want to do this with my husband so that we can save a lot of money. And indeed planning is very important and we also need to stay within our budget. I definitely agree with Donald about tree bearing fruits that it should not be in your lawn if you are not going to pick all the fallen fruits. I have a neighbor before that his lawn looks messy because of the rotten fruits. So I better stick with the shrubs. Thanks for the great info Chris.

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Gardener Victor November 28, 2013 at 6:03 am

Thanks for the tips Chris! These are definitely good points to think of. I’m not really a creative person but I could definitely work if given some instructions. Of course I’d probably leave the planning to my wife. Thanks again!

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Pool Guy January 14, 2014 at 4:35 am

I agree with Donald choose wisely and select low maintenance trees, shrubs etc. With most areas having issues with water, it is also wise to get trees and alike that do not require a lot of water. Thank you for your tips and great ideas you have provided use here!

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Simons Tree Surgery March 15, 2014 at 2:44 am

I really like the money saving tips provided for landscaping. I think by doing landscaping job what actually we can do nicely without expert support can help save lot of money. I’ve been very supportive to my landscaping works whenever I call someone or a group to accomplish landscaping. Thanks for the ideas though.

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The Tree Center July 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

#4 is definitely true. The average cost of a tree or shrub can increase 50% or more with each foot. For example a 3-4 ft tree may cost $30 while a 5-6ft can be upwards of $120. If you have the patience it may be worth the wait.
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landscape design Middlesex County NJ June 16, 2015 at 9:16 am

Planting a landscape bed around your home\’s foundation creates an instant improvement to your property\’s look and value. When planning gardens around the foundation, take into consideration the architectural style of your home as well as how much time you have to spend on maintenance.

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