Spring is in the air and the landscaping season is approaching.

Spring is in the air and the landscaping season is approaching. Landscaping adds aesthetic appeal to your yard and can increase the value of your property. It can be a challenge, though, to raise the value of your home through landscaping without spending a bundle in the process.
To find out some money-saving practices, Sentinel staff asked two local nursery owners and local gardeners for tips on how to keep landscaping and gardening affordable.

Do the labor yourself
Preparing your yard and plant yourself will save you a lot of money, said Jeff Chambers, owner of Smoky Valley Nursery in McPherson. Just because you do the work yourself doesn’t mean local nursery staff won’t help you make decisions and give input on your landscaping design. Books and magazines, available for purchase at The Bookshelf, Dillons and Wal-Mart or for check out at the McPherson Public Library, are great sources of ideas and tips on creating and maintaining an outdoor environment. The McPherson County Extension Office also offers several booklets and handout on gardening. And don’t forget the Internet, a quick search can net several results.

Go smaller
Trees can be pricey, but you can save money by considering the size of your saplings.
“We inventory different sizes of trees for different prices,” Chambers said. A small tree in a container might cost $60 or $70, while the largest trees at Smoky Valley can be priced at 10 times that amount.

Plant perennials
Planting annuals gives you just one season of perfect landscaping, while perennials grow back year after year for the price of only one plant, Chambers said.
“The midnight salvia is a good one - very hardy,” he said, adding that coneflowers and moonbeam coreopsis are other popular perennials.
McPherson Master Garden Club member DeWayne Herrs said shrubs, trees and perennials will cost more up front but will pay off in only a few years. Just make sure all of your purchases are part of your long-term plans and that you plan to maintain your landscaping for several years.

Put in a little extra money now to save later
One thing that makes a big difference is how you choose to water your plants, Chambers said.
“The long-term benefits of drip irrigation are very cost-effective,” he said. “There’s no waste there.”
Installing a drip irrigation system costs a little extra at first, but pays for itself during the life of your landscaping.

Take care of what you have
“I don’t think plants are that expensive,” said Sheila Wedel, owner of Sheila’s Garden Market in Galva. “It’s just taking care of your plants. Keep your garden weeded and watered.”
The initial cost of plants will be worth it only if they don’t end up being choked by weeds or shriveled by a lack of water.

Be patient
“People waste money...by planting too early,” Wedel said.
Flowers need to be planted after the last frost of the season, which varies. Wedel recommends checking guidelines at the K-State Extension Office to decide when to plant.
As a last resort, plants can be saved from dropping temperatures by covering them with a sheet, making sure the sheet doesn’t rest on the plants, Wedel said.
And watch for sales. Most nurseries will advertise sales throughout the growing season. Unless you are in a hurry to get everything in the ground now, wait until the tree, shrub or annual you want goes on sale and snag it for a reduced price.