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Skaggs: Cut costs now and save in the future
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Economic uncertainty often has people looking for ways to tighten their belts and save money. There are times, though, when skimping in the landscape can cost more in the long run. The following tips will hopefully help you save money in the landscape and garden.

When shopping

  • Shop around before you buy. Prices can vary greatly from one retailer to the next, and ask about possible volume discounts if you’re planning to buy a lot of plants.
  • Always check plants for insects, diseases and possible root problems before you buy.
  • Avoid impulse purchases. Have a good idea of what you want and need before you visit the garden center or nursery. You really can resist those blooming camellia and daphne plants in January if you try.
  • Don’t overbuy in size or number. Do you really need to buy a 30-gallon plant? Consider the plant’s mature size and base your quantity on that. Consider the digging you’ll have to do for such a big root ball, too.
  • Beware of miracle plants and miracle potions. Avoid catalogs that don’t list botanical names. Also, be suspicious of deals that seem too good to be true.
  • Buy good-quality tools; they will last and save you money in the long run. Use tools for their intended use. Shovels are not intended to double as pry bars for boulders.
In the established landscape
  • Divide perennials and swap plants with other gardening friends.
  • Move plants that aren’t thriving or prune overgrown shrubs instead of discarding them.
  • Use a newspaper layer under mulch to cut down on weeds in annual beds.
  • Reduce lawn area to a manageable size in a well-suited area. Give up trying to grow grass in dense shade.
  • Compost everything you can, including yard wastes, fruit and vegetable scraps, paper and lint. Use compost for soil amendments and top dressing. Use timing and a soil test to avoid wasting fertilizer and lime.
  • Plant self-sowing annuals and perennials. Good re-seeders are cosmos, poppies, oxeye daisies, four-o’clocks, cleome, zinnia, larkspur, old-fashioned impatients and petunias.
  • If your neighbors share similar lawn types, go together on rental equipment like aerators and de-thatchers.
  • For those considering new landscapes or renovating, a plan is a must. No matter whether you have a new or existing landscape, prepare the soil well and choose adapted plant material. Your effort will pay off in reduced water, fertilizer and pesticide consumption, and save you both time and money.
Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.
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