Optimizing your expenses to spend money on what you truly value is one of the keys to achieving financial independence (FI). That also means cutting back ruthlessly on expenses you don’t care about. Every dollar you reduce your recurring annual expenses by is $25 less you have to put in your nest egg to reach FI.
Depending on where you live, you could be spending a ton of money on your landscaping. For some, having a perfectly manicured yard and flower bed is a joy. For others, it’s a chore. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of enjoying landscaping, you could probably save a few bucks to help get you to FI faster.
We compiled some of the best advice from the ChooseFI Facebook group, along with some other tips and tricks, to give you this awesome list of ways to save money on your landscaping costs.
Live Somewhere That Doesn’t Require Landscaping
Want to know the best way to eliminate landscaping costs? Find housing that either doesn’t have a yard to maintain or doesn’t require you to maintain it. You could rent a home that the owner pays for yard maintenance or rent an apartment where the complex takes care of landscaping maintenance. You could even decide to live in a condo building with a small common area maintained by the condo association.
If you must have a yard, make sure you don’t live in a neighborhood with an HOA that will ding you for any little imperfection. In a sense, having a lush yard could be considered a keeping up with the Joneses’ problem.
If You Have Grass, Research How To Best Maintain It
Most people have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to maintaining their grass. They don’t know how to water it or how often to water. They don’t know how to properly cut the grass to keep it healthy.
In general, watering less often is better as long as you water deep when you do water. Most of the time, you want to water just before sunrise to prevent evaporation. Then, when the sun rises, you give your grass a chance to dry off during the day. Also, cutting grass higher is usually better, too. Of course, this all varies depending on the type of grass you have.
Do It Yourself
When it comes to yard maintenance, you should be able to do it yourself. If you buy electric maintenance equipment, such as lawnmowers and trimmers, you won’t have to deal with maintenance issues common with gas powered equipment. Another alternative is to use manual tools like a reel lawn mower and manual edger.
Additionally, there are many apps that tell you when you need to fertilize or lay down other chemicals depending on where you live and what type of grass you have. Doing these tasks yourself, instead of hiring them out, could save you a bundle.
I had no clue xeriscaping was a thing, but apparently it means landscaping an area so it requires little to no irrigation. In desert climates, xeriscaping can save you quite a bit of money on your landscaping water bill. Do your best to use plants native to your area as they should be able to thrive without any additional irrigation.
Still Want Grass? Keep Your Irrigation Costs Low
If a lush lawn and great flowerbeds are a must have for you, you can still do so and save money on your irrigation costs. First, consider upgrading your irrigation timer to a fancy, high-tech version that can connect to the internet and tell if it’s rained lately. Traditional water sensors aren’t known to be very reliable, but data from the internet makes life much easier and saves water.
Next, consider using rain barrels to collect rain water that runs off your roof. You can then use this water to keep your flower beds or lawn looking great in between days where it rains.
If possible, you could install a well and use well-water to water your lawn. Alternatively, see if your city offers a separate reclaimed water meter for your irrigation system at a greatly reduced cost. In general, reclaimed water is much cheaper and you don’t have to pay sewage rates on the water used.
Other Tips You May Want to Try
Finally, here are a few self-explanatory tips to help you cut down on costs.
- Have a tree that’s dying? Mulch it for free mulch.
- Use perennials! They grow back every year. (Tip from Bridgette Furrow).
- Replace real grass with artificial turf or pavers. There is an upfront cost, but you’ll save money over time.
- Want new plants? Check Craigslist and other similar websites for people getting rid of their landscaping.
- Use newspaper mulching to prevent weeds in flowerbeds.
- Check local governments, foundations and organizations to see if they give out free plants or offer other landscaping incentives.
Landscaping Is Your Choice (Unless It Isn’t)
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what type of landscaping you want at your home. If it’s important to you, maintain the landscaping to your standards but try to use some of the above tips to cut back on the costs. If it isn’t important to you and you won’t get in trouble with an HOA, go with more natural alternatives to save money over the long-term. Stuck with an HOA? Do the minimum to keep your landscaping up to the standards required.
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