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Monday, May 1, 2017

A Frugal Garden Makeover

In Great Britain the first of May is celebrated with traditional Maypole dances and anonymously leaving May Day baskets or paper cones, filled with sweets or flowers, on your neighbors doorstep to celebrate the arrival of spring. 

Sadly, the traditions of May Day have never really caught on in America but I still like the idea of creating a bit of May Day beauty. The first image shown in this post with it’s brick walls and rose covered archway reminded me a bit of my backyard.

Image may contain: plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature

Before we begin I would like to list a few disclaimers.

1. I have no idea what I am doing.

2. This garden is a work in progress. We began with 30 years of overgrown everything when we moved in two years ago. We are slowly claiming the land back.

3. Our backyard is very large. We have numerous garden beds on each side of the house and along our entire backyard wall.  All the beds are in a sorry state of neglect, the right things having been planted in the wrong places, etc.

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4. We have two gardeners ~ myself and Mr. Decor.

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Back in late February/early March I had planted numerous seeds, bulbs and roots throughout several areas in the front and back yard. Then I began working at my internship which left little time to work in the yard and the garden areas continued to be neglected. 

The only charming thing in this photo is the estate sale bird bath and fountain.

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Given that our yard is quite large the thought of trying to transform it from its current weed paradise state can quickly get overwhelming. Once my internship ended I decided to spend two to three hours each day working on a few areas over the course of five days to see if any improvements could be made.

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The beds first needed to be cleaned out. We have had a generous amount of rainfall this spring and the weeds were plentiful. A hula hoe often makes quick work of this dreaded chore. But I had to hand weed most of the areas because the seeds I had planted had started to grow  and I didn’t want to risk damaging them. 

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I find that in gardening it can appear that you have purchased a large selection of plants/flowers but somehow when you begin planting them the earth swallows them up and your purchases look pitiful. Trying to create a lush garden can get expensive fast.

Tips for Frugal Gardening

Map out the number of plants you need ahead of time, even listing a specific color palette. Take the list with you to avoid buying things you don’t need.

Learn where the discounted plants are located at each of your home improvement and gardening stores and always head to that area first. Generally the plants are just in need of a little TLC to bring them back and the savings can be quite substantial. Example: The two packs of 12 pink petunias were originally priced at $10.98 but were marked down to $3.00. This is fantastic because why spend tons of money on annuals that will need to be replanted every single year?

Using perennial flowers, plants and bulbs that return year after year is a smart long term investment. But seek out the best price. Where I live I’ve found that Wal Mart offers the best price on hydrangeas. Even better: these plants were originally $11 each but I got them got them for $5. I also found some knock out rosebushes on clearance for $5 each.

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Yellow and red stickers are your friend!

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If you have the patience, the ultimate savings are found by using seeds. I planted tons of petunia seeds directly into the beds and they have just started to grow. I simply supplemented with a few advanced plantings for a bit of color now.

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Using accent pieces in your landscaping provides interesting contrast. I found the wee child’s chair at a garage sale for a few dollars. The large trash heap pot was transformed into a bubbling fountain.

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The summer heat can get pretty intense. A layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist a bit longer so that plants get the full benefit of an early morning watering. It also helps keep weeds in check. Mulch is also something that the earth seems to swallow up. You think 10 bags will be PLENTY but end up needing 30. Watch for the sales and strike when it is offered for $2 a bag. That’s the best price I’ve seen.

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My hope is that by the end of the summer the beds will have filled out nicely.

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Sweet Guy will be completing the construction phase of his Eagle Scout project on May the 13th and we hope to have his ceremony at the end of September. Since it will also be his 16th birthday we are planning for a large celebration in the backyard. 

I can’t wait until the morning glories begin climbing over our old mailbox.

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Here’s to all good things growing!

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What are you planting?



Manu said...

Wow, how many beautiful flowers.
Thanks for sharing

Barbara H. said...

Looking good! I would love to have morning glories but my husband doesn't like them. I love petunias and have them every year. This year I am trying geraniums and a type of dianthus that looks like mini carnations for the first time. We had to install a new fence last summer after a row of trees caught something and died and had to be cut out, so as soon as my husband gets time, I am looking forward to filling that in along the fence line. I know we're going to try to transplant some azaleas and other things that are in different areas of the yard - we can't figure out why the previous owner planted so many things on the side of the yard away from the patio, but we're wanting to make the area around the patio a little more adorned.

Nancy said...

I love the makeover! its lovely. i dont know if they still do it but in savannah they used to dance the maypole dance in one of the downtown squares. i even got to dance in it when i was in the fifth or sixth grade. :) a very special memory jogged by your post today. thank you :)

Stacey said...

Great ideas! It took me years to understand the need and benefit of perennials. Now I totally get it! It's just wonderful when the come back year after year. They don't bloom as perfectly as annuals but the benefits outweigh that one little attribute.

One more thrifty ideas - share with friends. When you share with others and they share with you, it works great! In the past I've ended up with way too many daylilies, irises, and other plants that can be split. Oh yeah...split plants too. :)

Blondie's Journal said...

I agree with Stacey on the perennials. If I had started thirty years ago, I would have a lush garden and have saved thousands!

You guys are doing a great job! The 'after' pics are nice. Remember that it takes time for things to fill out. You can always add a few annuals here and there to fill in, and as you did, some simple objects or pieces are that little chair!!!

Happy May Day to you, my sweet friend!

Jane x

GSGreatEscaper said...

I've planted 7 azaleas and rhodies and 2 new prunus bushes this year, plus we moved a rhodie and a honeysuckle that were planted in the wrong spot - under trees so that they got no sun. I have a callicarpa dichotoma that's waiting to go in, and plan to pick up some new hydrangeaas and geraniums this week. I want to get some coneflowers and monarda when it gets to be planting time for them. Until Memorial Day, we still have frost danger here.

Vicki said...

It will be a thing of beauty when it all matures! We've had so much rain this winter in Phoenix that our annuals from last Fall actually popped up, grew, and filled our garden spaces. Wow! I don't remember when the last time that happened. I plant Blue Hibiscus, white, pink, purple Alyssum, multi-color Snapdragons. This year I found pale purple/white variegated Verbena, it's gorgeous. I also plant purple Lobelia, Spikes and the mums from last fall are huge and flower every few days. Hmmm, maybe this year I should show my garden, who knows when Phoenix will have another wet winter!

Jeanie said...

It'll be wonderful, Laura! I'm in the market for a hydrangea bush this year (or forsythia) so thanks for the tip on WalMart. I never go there. But maybe I will this time!

My backyard has a case of the grubs. Ugh! Looks horrible -- the only thing left for at about half of it is the weeds and it needs more care than I can give right now. Fortunately, the front isn't so bad! I have a 2x in the spring garden guy who does the heavy lifting, mulching and initial ground planting and weeding and after that it's my baby! Fortunately, my sweet peas grow like Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors, along with some perennial lilies in the front and the hosta garden is self-perpetuating so that's a relief. I've decided some things aren't my forte -- and just keep on top of them! Good luck with yours. I think it's looking etrrific!

Botanic Bleu said...

Hi, Laura,
Gardening, like housework, is never done. :) You two have made great progress. I started an all-white flower bed this spring with almost all perennials and hope it will fare well over the summer to come back again next year.

I just talked with a dear friend who is a volunteer at the Cowgirl Museum, and she remembered meeting you at the recent volunteer appreciation. I wish I had told each of you much sooner about the other so you two could have connected before your internship ended.

Happy Spring!