A Dozen Ways to Save Money on Yard Care
and Related Items

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

1. To help protect your house from winter winds and, thus, save on heating bills, consider planting a windbreak. Call your Land Grant University’s County Extension Service for specific information on how to correctly design your windbreak (such as how far trees should be from your house and what kind of trees to plant). In certain areas of the U.S., actual fuel savings from windbreak protection can be about 18 to 27 percent.

2. Using plant materials wisely can help reduce your energy costs. Winter heating bills may be reduced as much as 15 percent while the energy needed for summer cooling may be cut 50 percent or more. Check with your Land Grant University’s County Extension Service for information on energy efficient landscaping (such as proper placement of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs in relation to your house).

3. Use drought resistant grasses and plants which can survive on limited amounts of water. Ask your County Agricultural Extension Agent about drought resistant grasses and plants that are adapted to your area. The fewer times you must water your yard and plants, the lower your water bill.

4. Water your lawn and outdoor plants only when necessary and water deeply. Frequent shallow watering draws roots near the surface where they are subject to sunburn and drying out. Unnecessary watering wastes water, time, and your money.

5. Whenever possible, water your lawn yard plants, and the vegetable garden only in the early morning, late afternoon, or evening. It is best to refrain from watering in the heat of the day, when it is windy, or when the sun is shining brightly. Under these conditions, you waste a large amount of water through evaporation.

6. Mulch plants in your yard to help hold moisture in the soil. Spread leaves, cut grass, pieces of bark, plastic, and other appropriate materials around the plants. (Make sure that the mulch does not prevent water from soaking into the soil when you do water or when it rains.) The longer you can keep the soil moist through mulching, the more money you will save on watering.

7. Use a "soaker" hose rather than a sprinkler, where possible. Less water is required when a "soaker" hose is used because the water is concentrated on the soil nearer the roots; and there is, also, less evaporation.

8. Remove weeds from your yard. Weeds use water which could be used by your flowers, shrubs, trees, and grass. A weed-free yard will require less water than one infested with weeds.

9. Rather than let gasoline-powered yard equipment idle for long periods, turn it off until you are ready to use it again; and you will save gasoline.

10. Keep the cutting edges sharp on gasoline and electric-powered yard equipment. The equipment will cut more efficiently and, therefore, use less energy. Dull cutting edges tend to fray grass blades and thus increase water evaporation from the grass plants.

11. Use "hand" lawn mowers, pruners, clippers, and other yard tools whenever possible rather than gasoline or electric-powered ones. "Hand" tools consume only your physical energy.

12. You can save money and do your lawn a favor by using a mulching lawn mower instead of bagging and carting off grass clippings. The mulched clippings fall back to the soil and add nutrients.

About the Author:
Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself.

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