August 12, 2009 at 3:39PM
by Jeff Yeager
Gardening and landscaping is a favorite pastime in 84 million U.S. households. If done right, it's good for the environment and increases the aesthetic and financial value of your home. But it can mean shoveling a ton of green from your wallet into a hole in the yard. Americans spend more than $40 billion annually on their lawns and gardens.
For an affordable and eco-friendly alternative, try "guerilla gardening" -- recycling plants and landscape materials. Some freescaping ideas:
- Pitch in with a shovel, and landscaping crews are usually happy to give you what they uproot when tearing out existing landscapes and native plants.
- Water less/save more by mulching. Ask the highway maintenance crew to dump their woodchips in your front yard or check with the local landfill; many shred wood products and giveaway the mulch for free.
- Grow your own plants from those you already have; pick up a copy of American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation (DK, 1999).
- Make your own compost, and contact local stables and the zoo to get on their "manure wish list."
- Check with demolish crews and salvage yards for bricks, cobblestone, broken concrete slab, and other materials for garden walls and walkways.
- Get into swapping -- free plants, that is. Attend or host a plant swap meet.
- Transform plastic pipe -- a common construction site throwaway -- into garden trellises that pass for wrought iron when spray painted black.
- Sprinkle spent coffee grounds and crushed egg shells around your plants to enhance soil nutrition and protect against garden slugs.
- And when it comes to garden art, anything recycled goes: from car tire planters to bicycle wheel sculptures.
Jeff Yeager is the author of the book The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. His Website is www.UltimateCheapskate.com.