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Keeping a beautiful yard shouldn’t break your wallet

Spring may not officially be here, yet, but it sure feels like spring in Arizona. Already we’re teased by gardening tools, patio sets, landscaping kits and everything you need to keep your yard beautiful, or start that new landscaping project. The biggest problem, is doing it on a budget. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Put your ideas on paper. It’s easy to envision what you want your yard to look like. A bush here, another there, rock here, grass there. Make a sketch and a list of plants and adornments you want before you head to the store. That way you avoid overbuying or getting the wrong stuff.

2. Research before you buy. It may sound tempting to buy an exotic tree online or a unique-looking bush or flower, but find out first if it will survive where you live, how much sun it needs and how much maintenance it requires. You may end up with a fancy tree that dies before the fall starts.

3. Shop around. Not all gardening stores are created equal. The same goes for landscapers. If your project is small and you can do it yourself, look for deals, return guarantees if your plant dies, and get some free advice online. If your project is a little more ambitious, get several quotes from landscapers, compare prices, if they stand behind their work and what type of timetable they offer. If you’re hiring a pro, have all details of your project in writing, and both parties should sign to make sure it gets done.

4. Don’t do it all at once. Many of us jump into a big project thinking it’s going to look great. We’ll turn grass into gravel; plant a few lime trees there, a few bushes here. In the end, we end up overwhelmed and over budget. Buy things in batches. Do one side of the yard at a time and if you’re doing it on your own, take your time. It’s better to do it right than to do it rushed. You may end up overspending.

5. Share. Got a neighbor who’s also looking to spruce up their yard? Split equipment rentals or costs. Buy in bulk and then split it. It could save you money if you find a landscaper you both like who’s willing to do both yards at a cheaper fee. If you do end up buying things together, be sure to clear things up front to decide who keeps what if you move.

6. Maintain. Often times once our project is done, we feel exhausted and just leave it alone. But let those weeds grow after a few weeks and your work could go to waste. Especially if you are adding rock where grass once was, staying on top of maintenance can save you money. Look into landscapers who do maintenance by asking neighbors who they recommend. You might be able to get a discount if you get a referral.

7. Grow your own. If you’re thinking of growing your own food, learn as much as you can before you go shopping. From testing your soil, hash out irrigation system, types of seeds you’ll want and a maintaining schedule to make sure you can keep up. Buying all at once and without doing research can cost you more than you hoped.

8. More green, more money. Beautiful green landscapes can be costly. Water conservation should be a priority for everyone interested in the environment, but also to keep costs down. If you’re considering putting in grass, don’t forget watering cycles and factor in water bills. Desert landscapes usually require less maintenance and less water.