Home Away from Home – Garden Maintenance
A beautiful garden takes cultivation, care, and plenty of time to create. From aesthetics to environmental sustainability to increasing home value, gardens and landscaping are important to homeowners.
It’s a busy and fast-paced world we live in, and for some of us, our professional careers and other responsibilities mean we have to leave home for extended periods of time. While personal lawn care can cost around $100 to $200 a month, hiring a gardener can mean paying upwards of $50 to $100 an hour.
If you are like me and prefer to tend your own garden, it is important to keep costs down and your plants up during your absence. Here are some hacks for those that want to save money and still keep their garden looking fresh and thriving while they’re away!
Buy In Bulk
This is an easy task—make sure you get everything ready ahead of time. Scrambling at the last minute is no fun, so grab the plants you need and all of your maintenance tools beforehand. I like to make sure I have enough supplies for the entire leave of absence so my renters do not have to visit the store on my behalf.
When planning your gardening and landscaping efforts,focus on native plants. They’re much cheaper and often require little to no maintenance as they can survive in their environment with no assistance. Almost every state has a resource for finding the right native plants. One of my favorite Oklahoma native plants is the Prickly Pear Cactus.
Mulch It Up
If you know you will be living in the same house for a while, make your own mulch. Grass clippings, old leaves, and food waste work great and don’t cost anything to create. Using mulch will result in less weeds while you’re away,meaning less work for you or any hired help.
Mix the aforementioned “ingredients” and lay them around the base of your plants. You can make nutrient rich mulch over the course of a few months by keeping everything in a pile, or you can just lay down the ingredients so weeds don’t grow. Here’s a great YouTube video from eHow to get you started.
Use Your Network
Instead of hiring professional gardeners that can charge an arm and a leg, reach out to your neighbors or friends. If you’re like me and planning on renting out your home for a while, you can ask your tenant to weed and take care of the garden. Cutting a little portion off your rent rates will be much less expensive than hiring a professional company.
Make sure they are trustworthy though, especially if the lease will only run through a few months. I use a tenant screening service that has a background check to make sure I have trustworthy people in my place.
If you don’t plan on having a renter, talk to the neighborhood kids or someone else you TRUST to take care of your yard and garden. Trust is key as the wrong person can ruin a beautiful garden and months or even years of effort.
DIY Sprinkler Set
Make sure your plants are not starved for water while you’re gone. There’s no need to construct an elaborate and expensive underground sprinkler system. All you need is a basic hose attached sprinkler and a faucet timer. I got one from Home Depot for $30.
Connect it to your hose and above ground sprinkler and keep the water on (don’t worry, no water will come out until the timer goes off).
There you go, a water oasis with hardly any effort at all! Make sure you set the timer to go off at night so the water does not evaporate in the hot sun.
Fence off the Garden
Keep your garden safe from trampling feet with a fence that will separate it from any open space areas. DIY fences are easy to construct with a little chicken wire and wooden rods. I like adding signs on my fence posts so my renters know what is growing and will not mistake my plants for weeds.
I would love to hear your ideas and am always taking suggestions for more fun ideas!
Special thanks to Brenda and Cozy Little House for the guest opportunity!
About Hank (Bio): When Hank isn’t on the blogosphere he is out working on his home and garden. Fueled by DIY and home ‘hacks’, Hank loves to help his readers improve their homes. Check him on twitter and see what he is writing about next!