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 May 3, 2013  Posted by  At Home, Features, Gardening, Hot Deals
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If you want a garden that turns heads but don’t want to empty your wallet in the process, do your own landscaping. It’s easy to familiarize yourself with the basic principles of design in order to create the yard of your dreams.

Decide on a theme

Figuring out the theme of your garden gives you a blueprint from which to draw in terms of plants, hardscape and accessories. A cutting garden, for instance, would contain plants ideal for bouquets, such as tea roses, cosmos, zinnias and tulips. Such gardens do especially well in raised beds, which you can easily and inexpensively build yourself. Knowing the theme of the garden also helps you pick out accessories. A cutting-style garden, for instance, is the perfect home for a gazing ball and arbor.

Draw up plans

Like landscape designers do, draw up the plans for your garden on paper or on the computer. Doing so allows you to make a pleasing design and will alert you to when things aren’t fitting well or if you have empty holes to fill. When the design is still on paper, it’s easy to move things around and eliminate items if necessary.

Create garden rooms

Just as the interior of the home has various rooms, such as living and dining rooms, entryways and kitchens, effective gardens contain the same elements. Look at your exterior in terms of rooms with various functions. For instance, plan for an outdoor kitchen and dining area, a living room area for sitting and chatting, and consider adding items like lounge chairs and hammocks where you can take an afternoon nap.

Blend hardscape and plants

An eye-catching garden does a good job of blending plants with hardscape items, such as pavers, retaining walls, barbecues, arbors and gazebos. You want a good mix of both types of items to create a garden that is functional and aesthetically pleasing. Generally, hardscape items are put in first and then you plant around them.

Consider mature plant size

Educate yourself about the eventual size of plants before including them in your landscape design. Some trees can reach 60 feet tall and wide, making them unsuitable for many home landscapes. Removing an overgrown tree can be costly. Make the right choice in the first place, and save yourself money and headaches.

Have any money-saving tips to share for doing your own landscaping?

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Julie Bawden Davis

Julie Bawden-Davis is a freelance writer, editor, speaker and website publisher, who enjoys seeing how far she can stretch a dollar. She specializes in writing about personal finance and frugal living, home and garden and small business. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, The Los Angeles Times, American Express Open Forum, MSN Money,, Credit and She is also editor of the bi-monthly Old Towne Orange Plaza Review. An avid gardener—an aspiration that attracts the frugal—Julie regularly speaks on the topic and publishes the website for indoor gardeners everywhere.

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