As leaves begin to bud on trees across the country and temperatures finally start to climb, landscaping can become a great weekend project.
Jeff Burke with Budget Landscaping has been landscaping since 1978 and has been serving Houston-area homeowners for the past 18 years. He said most landscaping projects run an average of $2,500.
Burke said that because his company has little overhead, it's able to work with homeowners to guide them through the landscaping process inexpensively. He said he's also able to offer homeowners solid tips and ideas.
First, Burke said that homeowners should get to know the people who run local nurseries. Second, homeowners should get to know their neighbors, cultivating ideas and sharing experiences so that the amateur landscaper neither wastes time nor money in undergoing a project doomed to fail because of soil conditions or climate.
Many of Burke's landscaping ideas have nothing to do with green things -- some center on rocks.
For example, he said one of his favorite inexpensive projects is to lay some flagstone rocks around the foundation of a house. He said he also likes to create ponds comprised of moss rock.
In both instances, Burke recommended that plants be removed and replanted in and around the rock areas to achieve a natural look.
The addition of a bench to a back yard is not only decorative, it's useful. For homeowners who are feeling a bit more leisurely, Burke recommended planting a couple of cypress, pine or oak trees just far enough apart to fit a hammock.
If a monthly bill isn't a tremendous concern, water placed within the proper context can add a splash of beauty to any landscape. Burke recommends that customers who are interested buy their own fountains at wholesale prices. He then adds flagstone underneath and plants irises around the edges.
Inexpensive landscaping projects can involve the entire family, as well.
"(Annuals) can add beauty to a home, and you can make it a family project, too," said John Buechner with Lawn Doctor.
Annuals are plants with a life cycle of only one year -- they germinate, flower and then die.
Burke said he likes planting a few small trees, such as pines, at the side of a house to spruce up a home's profile. Having lived everywhere from Venezuela to Laredo, Burke said he's grown to appreciate everything from rainforests to orchids, pansies and pine trees.
On the other hand, Buechner said that improving a house's landscape can be as much the result of peer pressure as it is an appreciation for beauty.
"Landscaping and how your lawn looks is a personal decision," he said.
Even the government has entered the landscaping business. The Environmental Protection Agency features "A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials."
Pro might be best
If after all this, no ideas for an inexpensive landscaping project come to mind, perhaps it's best to let the pros have a look. According to Associated Content, many homeowners actually waste money trying to save it by doing it themselves.
Buechner said most of Lawn Doctor's customers look to spend a minimum of $300 on even the most inexpensive landscaping projects.
"For almost the same amount of money, he could buy our services," Buechner said.
Likewise, Burke said that homeowners who aspire to a little do-it-yourself landscaping shouldn't necessarily avoid professional service companies just because of costs.
By Ryan Welton, Staff Writer
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