How to build a rock garden with weed prevention

Rock garden wallSAVE WITH ROCKS AND MULCH

 

A few years ago I travelled to England and my first comment when we arrived at our destination was where is all of the grass? Not one single house on the street had a lawn, rather they had a rock garden.

I was informed that being in walking distance from the Irish Sea the drifting salt water made it difficult to have vegetation growing on their properties.

Instead everyone had rock gardens. It looked great!

Rock gardens

 

Rocks gardens can look nice in the beginning but that can change quickly especially if not prepared or maintained properly. It’s not too often that we see entire properties transformed into rock gardens in North America though many people do enjoy the style and natural touch they can add to their properties.

Unfortunately, there are too many rock gardens that have been neglected or not installed well that are now overgrown and full of weeds, in some cases you are barely able to see the rocks or stones.

Why would you consider building a rock garden?

If a rock garden is properly prepared and installed, it can be a relatively low-maintenance required addition to your landscape which is easy on the budget.

Rocks also pair well with water so if you are thinking of installing a pond or waterfall a surrounding rock garden may just be the finishing touch you are looking for.

A rock garden can also help to improve drainage in your yard. Depending on the slope of your property and if positioned correctly it may even create a natural riverbed.

Rock gardens are often used as a focal point because unlike plants, rocks don’t die and look great year round.

Rock garden preparation

 

Building a rock garden

The tools and materials you use to build your rock garden will contribute to the amount of regular maintenance your garden will require.

An edger can be used to dig a deep edge that separates the garden from your lawn. You won’t have to replace as many stones overtime as they will settle in the edge and can then be put back in. It also makes it easier to cut any surrounding grass while avoiding hitting any rocks or stones with your lawn mower blades.

While landscape fabric is marketed as a magical way to prevent weeds from growing in your garden it will not prevent all of them. Laying down the fabric before adding soil to your garden will certainly help but while weeds cannot grow up through the fabric they can still grow down into the fabric.

Seeds that make it into your garden whether they made it there by wind, rain, insects or birds can still push their roots right on through it. You will still see weeds but not nearly as many.

When preparing the ground choose a good quality, weed free soil. If you are going to try cut corners by buying cheap materials, buying cheap soil for a rock garden is not a corner you want to cut, especially if you are planning to cover the majority of the garden with stones or pebbles.

Pulling weeds out between rocks is not only painful for your fingers as you are not likely to get a shovel or trowel in without disturbing the natural look of your rock garden but also often it is hard to remove the roots of a weed that is buried in rocks.

The weed will continue to grow back with a bigger and stronger root that will be even harder to remove.  Further in this post I will share some homemade weed killer ideas that can be applied to any weeds that may pop up or prevent the seeds from germinating in the first place.

A garden rake (hard rake) can be used to level and smooth out the underlying soil.

A large pry bar or wrecking bar and a fulcrum (wood blocks to use as pivot points) can be very helpful when trying to move and place a boulder. Moving large boulders is not a one person job they can be extremely heavy and while it may add a nice focal point to your garden it’s not worth throwing out your back.

Once the soil is prepared, you then will want to get any plants in the ground before laying any stone or mulch in the garden.

Rock garden plants

 

rock garden plants hens and chickens

rock garden plants hens and chickens

What plants can I use in a rock garden?

Really you could plant whatever you would like though some plants will look better and require less work to maintain than others.

Perennials, succulents and ornamental grasses are the best to use in a rock garden as you only have to plant them once and do not have to remove any stone that you would have to if planting annuals every year.

Among many plants that would work well in a rock garden, junipers, rock cress, sedums and hens & chicks are just a few. Hens and Chicks will also easily grow on rocks as you can see in the picture from my driveway.

Try to use a variety of plants with different textures that will compliment the stones and rocks you have used to achieve the natural look.

Keep in mind when choosing plants that some may need dividing to avoid growing too large and taking over your rock garden.

Dividing these plants will not be as easy as ones that are planted in a traditional garden as the rocks can make this a challenge.

If you don’t mind moving the stones or rocks away so you can dig then by all means go ahead, but keep in mind it’s going to be more work for you.

Homemade weed killers

 

While pulling weeds by hand is an effective, natural approach to weed management it is not very enjoyable and can be painful for your fingers when working around rocks and stones.

Just because the use of herbicides is banned in many places it doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that you can use to get rid of the pesky weeds that may pop up in your rock garden.

Depending on the design of your garden and the materials that you choose to use, mechanically removing the weeds with a hoe or a trowel will not be an easy way to make maintain a weed free rock garden.

Corn Meal

 

Sprinkling corn meal over your garden can used as a pre-emergent herbicide as it prevents the germination of all seeds. Not just the seeds from weeds too so make sure you are not spraying around any seeds that are planted in any of your gardens, including your vegetable garden.  Corn meal is often referred to as the birth control of seeds.

Boiling water

 

This is pretty self-explanatory. Take a kettle of boiling water and pour it on the weeds, being careful not to burn your feet.  The water will scald the leaves and the roots as the water is absorbed in the soil.

Vinegar and dish soap

 

I am sure most people on Pinterest and Facebook have seen the Homemade Weed Killer recipe that claims to work great to kill your pesky weeds.

  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 tbsp Dawn dish soap

Well I know firsthand that vinegar works well to kill weeds by clogging the leaves’ pores and preventing the process of photosynthesis to occur, eventually killing it.

While the dish soap is used to help the vinegar stick to the plant instead of it running off into the soil, I wouldn’t recommend adding salt. Salt is toxic to our plants, trees and soil and this mixture can really work without it.

Also, this homemade weed killer requires the weed to be leafed out, meaning it will not kill any weeds after you have pulled them out and the root stayed in the ground or if you have just cut the grass.

The leaves need to be present so that it can be absorbed, the more surface area the better. Spraying them after you have just cut the grass or was unsuccessful pulling it out will only be a waste of your money.

With both the boiling water and vinegar/dish soap methods keep in mind that just because it didn’t kill the weed the first time you doused it doesn’t mean it isn’t working. I have seen many dandelions over the years, even very small ones which have had a 2 foot tap-root.

The roots are what you are aiming to kill with these methods and as some weeds will continue to grow back. A couple of applications may be required to get rid of these stubborn weeds.

Always make sure the leaves of the weeds are completely saturated. Both methods can be used on your lawn, driveway, walkways, paths and rock gardens.

A humid, sunny day with no wind is always the best time to spray any liquid herbicide, homemade or not. Pesticide drift may occur when it is windy and can damage surrounding plants.

Don’t defeat the purpose

 

While the general idea behind a rock garden is add a natural look to your property you can really design one however you please or have a professional do the landscape work for you. Weed prevention is a very important issue to address when planning your rock garden.

A rock garden overgrown with weeds isn’t the natural effect you were likely aiming to achieve. It is inevitable that there will always be weeds but by being one step ahead of them we can control how big of a problem we allow them to be.

Do you have any rock gardens on your property? What experiences can you share?

 

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Could you chop your budget and live off of the grid?-PF Friday Grab a brew #55

grab-a-brew-online-reviewGIVING IT UP TO LIVE ON LESS

 

I’m not sure if I am the type of person who could give up my convenient life to live off of the grid but many people do.

When I read about 34-year-old Abe Connally who quit his full-time job to move his family of four to the middle of the desert in Southwest Texas to live off of the grid I felt a bit of a jolt go through my body.

He closed the door on 40 hours of working a week to enjoy the 5-10 hours he works now to live a simple rural life.

Imagine what you would do with an extra 30 hours per week. The family lives off of a budget of $800 a month which covers everything from groceries to feed for the animals. Quite impressive.

I certainly know I could do all sorts of things including hobbies of mine that seem to be put on the back burner because there is no time left in my day.

It makes me wonder if we work ourselves into the ground for nothing and over-think living without giving much thought to the obvious living off of the grid. I know many of us are looking at ways to improve the way we conserve energy but it’s on a small percentage for us compared to what some families like the Connally family does.

 

Living off of the grid

 

What does living off of the grid mean?

If you don’t know what living off of the grid is exactly it simply means using the earths natural resources such as sun and wind to generate electricity and heat. Anyone who lives off of the grid knows that solar power is the golden ticket to making it through day in and day out. Sounds simple but planning is key to this lifestyle and lots of it.

The family went as far to purchase a plot of land to grow their own vegetables and have many fruit trees. They also have bees that give them plenty of honey and when I read it I instantly thought of my friend Karen over at Lil Suburban Homestead who shares her families passion for sustainable living.

You can find Karen with her bees, canning and growing a garden and so much more with her entire family. I instantly became friends with her online as bloggers because her lifestyle intrigued me to the point where I’ve learned so much from her.

The Connally family also collects rain water in these huge tanks which they made as its scarce living in the desert and filter it for personal use. I’m sure many of you say that sounds like a great plan but putting this life into motion did and continues to keep this family busy.

I envy these people who are able to just walk away from what they know is relatively secure income to live life on their own terms.

Living off of the grid meant that Abe and his wife had to build their own home, in fact they built two which took them years and is ongoing but they are raising their kids through the entire process. It makes me wonder how these children will differ from those that are raised in the city with all of the conveniences we are so used to.

Granted, they haven’t given it all up you can see video games and internet are part of their life because they blog at Vela Creations which at the time of writing this is down because of heavy traffic from the Yahoo article.

That only tells me that many people are interested in learning more about grid living and this family who washes and dries clothes the old-fashioned way as only part of their money-saving life-style.

 

My wake up call

 

Every morning I get up at the crack of silly and the first thing I do is turn on the lights and plug-in the kettle to put my morning brew on. From there on goes the computer to read my morning Yahoo news to see what crazy stuff is happening in this world and sip away while watching the weather network on the television.

I could easily see me heading out to the farm to feed the animals like the Connally family does with their rabbits, chickens, pigs etc. but it certainly would be a lifestyle change that would have to be embraced full-force.

Yes, our house is lit up but for only a short period in the morning but that’s by choice although I keep in mind time of use regulations so we aren’t paying out the nose. It’s been about 2 years now since I tested almost all of the appliances in our house to see how much energy they were drawing to figure out the costs to use the appliances.

The amount of money is a bit shocking depending on the appliance but in reality we will continue to plug-in because we’ve become accustomed to using these appliances.

I’m not sure If I’d be ready to give up the life I live right now to live off of the grid but I will continue to do my part to use less, hang dry laundry, recycle, combat waste, grow a garden and conserve energy when I can. If I was forced to live off of the grid then I’d certainly do whatever I needed to survive.

Could you give up your city life and career to live off of the grid?

 

Top recipe

 

pineapple cake with cheesecake frosting

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe comes from a blog called “Bunny’s Warm Oven”. Now Bunny’s recipes are no stranger to Canadian Budget Binder as she creates some of the most tantalizing treats I’ve ever seen like this one today. You will need to grab a brew just to be able to savour every bite of this baked beauty.

It was a tough call to pick a top recipe this week but Bunny’s “Easy Pineapple Cake with Cheesecake Frosting” did it for me. Not only did I love it but the fans on The Free Recipe Depot loved it as well. Thanks for sharing your recipes with us Bunny..

 

Weekly CBB Posts

 

If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #55 so happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

-Mr. CBB

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The Saturday Weekend Review #33: Friends and family buy our kids too much stuff

the-saturday-weekend-review-33

It Looked So Cute We Couldn’t Help Buying It

I openly admit that I talk too much sometimes, but these days I enjoy it even more because listening is how I am able to help others and learn from them. I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that my wife wanted to head out to garage sales this morning with her friend. I tagged along as the “hold this” guy not the driver this time so it was a fairly simple task for me.

I’ll openly admit the most intriguing item I saw was a book called “How to make love and cook at the same time”. I thought maybe I might give that a try some time lol. Bad visual I know, sorry but the book really was an excellent cook book packed with laughter and good eats. We need a bit of humour in our lives every single day.

Along the way I met a teacher who told me a story about a man who quit smoking and drinking heavily at age 40 and turned his life around and hiked across Canada. She wanted this man to speak to her students so he could motivate them to pursue their passions in life. Another woman told me that she was getting rid of stuff because her kids were now grown and left the home and she doesn’t need the items from when they were little kids any longer (no kidding).

How many of you parents out there still have items stored in your house and your kids no longer live with you. Come on, show of hands. Where are you? Then again many of you might still have your kids who never left or came back again for round 2 or maybe even 3 or 4. Failure to Launch………………or these days failure to be able to afford to live on one’s own due to increased expenses and osap loans after school.

Too much stuff

Too much stuff and not enough space. Does that sound like you? I stopped to talk to a couple who were selling mountains of boys and girls clothing for cheap and they were name brand as well. They also had many unopened kids items such as baby monitors, jumpy thingies, and lots of colourful balls (so many balls omg), bikes, sports equipment etc. The place was covered with kids stuff and I had to ask why they were selling items that still had tags on them. Why did you not use these items of clothing?

The father said that their friends and family buy them too much stuff and they can’t keep up with it. He says he has bins labelled with sex and age filled to the top of kids clothing that they need to sell. He wasn’t sure why people felt the need to always buy things for the kids but it seemed to be never-ending, and still is. He says the don’t expect people to bring toys or clothes for the kids when they visit but they do.

Their parents who are frugal minded and watch every penny they earn even went a bit bonkers when the kids were born. They thought nothing to drop $100 on a Christmas outfit their daughter might only wear once. Are the kids spoiled? Sure but when you tell people no, they don’t listen they keep buying. If I don’t accept the gifts then I feel like I am letting them down or insulting them so what are we supposed to do?

It’s true that some couples and I know you are out there reading this have a house that is jam-packed with stuff because of people buying too much. What does one do when you want people to slow down buying gifts for the kids from the aunts, uncles, grandparents, god parents etc etc.

It seems as if it may be a perk to get gifts all the time but when you don’t use the stuff then you have to spend time trying to get rid of it and the house is cluttered and potentially unorganized is there another way someone can give without buying “stuff”? All good intentions I’m sure but maybe they can put the money towards something else like an RESP or a savings account for the child if they don’t need any more.

If you have kids do you find people are always buying stuff for them that they don’t end up using and you still have tags on them or they are wrapped up?  Are you one of those people who tend to buy “too much” if so why do you do this?

Gardening and Landscaping

Well, the basil is dwindling down now that I’ve pulsed as much as I can into basil pesto but the chives and parsley are in full swing. Our mallow if finally blooming and this was one of those rescue plants at the end of the season which we bought years ago. We put it in a huge planter and bring it indoors in the winter and have never had a problem with it. I’ll grab a photo for you so I can share it next week but I’ve been swamped this week.

Blog update

Check out my first blog post contribution at SHE KNOWS CANADA where I will be a regular contributor moving forward. The post I wrote is “15 Ways couples can budget for a holiday getaway” which I hope you take a few minutes to read and comment on. I appreciate all of your support.

I saw the new Canadian Budget Binder website staged and I love it. We are working on some finishing touches and you can expect a new blog very shortly. I’m on the edge of my seat for this one. I hope you are too, I did it for you.

Other posts I wrote this week

You can now follow Canadian Budget Binder via Bloglovin and continue to get my daily posts in this reader.

If you are a regular reader you would have already received these awesome posts in your email or reader but just in case you missed reading one I’ve put them all together here just for you.

PLUS…. check out the NEW FEATURE I’ve added which is my New Free Recipe IndexYou get all the recipes that I have posted here at Canadian Budget Binder in one spot so you don’t have to go looking for them.

Garage sailing with Jen

Jen-garage-sale-finds

Jen and her husband have made many improvements to their shopping habits and their budget. You can read all about it in her guest post, Budgeting With Mr. CBB Got Us Back On Track. Jen shares her weekly garage sale finds with us for the summer to show just how much she can save for her family.

  • Car seat (need a spare) expires Dec 2017 – $3 (they were asking $5)
  • 22 pairs of socks (various toddler sizes) and Men’s Nike workout shirt – $3 (she was asking $5 just for the shirt)
  • Felt pieces for the bottom of furniture – $.25
  • Small zip up pouch, four collared shirts for Adam and an Elle lunch bag for me – $3 (were asking $6.50)
  • BBQ grill basket – $2 (they were asking $5)
  • Kandoo container to hold toddler wipes – free
  • Two-step stool for Adam to use in the kitchen – $1 (they were asking $2)
  • Cash register/calculator toy – free
  • Stuffed frog – free
  • Die-cast cars – free
  • Lego bases – $1
  • Sidewalk chalk bucket – $1 (they were asking $2)
  • Jeep toy – $.25
  • Stripped GAP dress shirt for Adam - $.25 (they were asking $1.50)
Total $14.75
Lots of free items today as we took Adam with us and people tend to give cute kids free stuff ;-) lol

Making a difference

Each week I like to showcase a blog that I follow on a regular basis and today I give to you my good friends The PoPs from Planting our Pennies.

Planting our pennies

kitty pop

Hey there! We are Mr. and Mrs. PoP, and we blog at Planting Our Pennies. Our tagline for our blog is “Money, Happiness, and Kittens”, and that’s a pretty good explanation of what we’re all about. 

Like Mr. CBB, we watch our money pretty closely, tracking our net worth and watching our spending by preparing monthly income statements so we know exactly where our money is going. We hope sharing this information prompts our readers to start tracking their own books a bit more closely. But there’s more to life than money.

That’s why happiness is also one of the things we’re focusing on. We like to share the little things we do that help and challenge us to find greater happiness in our everyday experiences.

And really, our Kitty PoP is one of our greatest sources of happiness on a daily basis. He’s so goofy and fun that we can’t help but share his antics with our readers for a good belly laugh.

If we can help readers keep an eye on their money, find joy in the everyday, and maybe even convince a few to adopt a shelter kitten like Kitty PoP, we’ll consider all the time we spend blogging well worth it in the long run.

Blog share

I really appreciate when other blog owners recognize my hard work at Canadian Budget Binder and share my posts with their fans. Here are the blogs that did just that this past week, so please head over and check them out. If I’m missing you it’s because I didn’t get a ping back so please send me an email and I’ll add you next Saturday.

What is a blog carnival?

Some fans have asked me just what a blog carnival is so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans. A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web.

Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed. If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.

A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals

Carnival glory

Google search terms

web search terms

What are Google keyword search terms?

Keywords for search engines help me to understand what people are looking for at Canadian Budget Binder. Although I get thousands of keyword searches from Google users that come in each week I pick out a few that catch my eye and make me smile.

Top pick- Lawsuit bad ladder out of dumpster- Oh please don’t tell me you took a ladder from a dumpster and you want to sue them now because they enticed you to take it out and you fell off and now you want compensation for it. 

  • Sleepy fun- No sleepy fun going on here…
  • Download Ugandan music- Another one just so out of place
  • Where do women love Canadian men- hmm, I’m keeping my mouth shut!
  • Glitz binders- I admit I get all sorts of binder hits.
  • Oprah recipe binders- Ya, like this one, see more binders…
  • Chef he has no job again- I have no idea why it is just so out-of-place 

That’s all I have for this weeks edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #33. Please, join me again next Saturday for more life updates and what’s been going on in my world. Have a great week.

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Backyard to your kitchen: Tips for growing a Fall garden

companion-plants

Don’t Fall Behind With Your Garden

As the summer progresses and our gardens flourish, it’s time to starting planning what to plant in our fall gardens.  Many plants such as lettuce, carrots and onions can be grown in a spring garden but truly thrive as cool weather crops, particularly in the flavour department. Preparing for your fall garden is much the same as what you would do in the spring, with a few other things to consider.

Planting time

Fall gardens are typically planted in July and August. In the spring when we plant our gardens we are worried about planting to early and losing our precious plants to the last frost. With fall gardens you need to make sure you do not plant too late. You now need to factor in when you can expect the first killer frost. Across various regions in Canada, the average first killer frost is anywhere from mid-August to early November.

This date is important when you are deciding when you should be planting your fall gardens. The number of days until maturity (ready to harvest) is on the back of most seed packs and plant identification tags. Find out what the approximate first frost date is in your area and count backwards. It’s better to plant a little too early than too late.

Cauliflower-plant

Cauliflower

Hardiness of plants 

The hardiness of a plant refers to how much of a tolerance the plant has to cold temperatures. Typically categorized as tender (non-hardy) or hardy. Most hardy  vegetables can survive a frost if left  with little or no protection. Hardy plants include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, onions, radishes, spinach, and beets.

Various materials can be used to protect your fall garden from the anticipated frost. Young, smaller plants could be covered with a light sheet of plastic or even newspapers, larger plants could be covered with a container big enough to fit over the whole plant or a small structure made of a few stakes and some burlap.

wall-garden-in-full-harvest

Direct seeding your Fall garden

If you choose to sow your own seeds rather than purchase plants, consider letting the germination process take place indoors. Indoor conditions are ideal as the summer months are hot and dry and some seeds may not germinate in soil that is too warm, this also makes keeping the soil moist during the germination process more of a challenge.

Transplanting  

In a previous post I talked about hardening off your plants. As most fall garden planting is done in the summer the plants need to be gradually exposed to the hot sun. Providing light shade for a few days after planting will give the plant a chance to adjust to the temperature and its new home without the added stress of a sunburnt plant. If you can plant your garden on a cloudy day that’s even better.

Insects and disease

Cool, moist weather in the fall creates the perfect environment for many plant loving diseases. Insects are also more abundant after populating for the summer months. If you choose to use pesticides as your plan of attack against these unwanted pests, make sure you look into what pesticides, if any, are legal to be used in your area.

The best defence against insects and disease is to maintain healthy, actively growing, strong plants. Just like our immune systems, weak plants are more susceptible to insect damage and/or disease. Remember to water thoroughly each time, avoiding frequent light watering. Although, at the seedling stage light frequent watering is easier on the little guys. Remembering to fertilize will help to maintain strong, healthy plants. Also, clean up any plant debris in the garden that may be keeping the pests around.

My Spring gardening

opsy-turvey-tomato-planter

I thought I’d share a bit about how my spring  garden is doing this year. My vertical shoe organizer wall garden is doing extremely well, we have enjoyed some romaine lettuce, garnished with some parsley and frozen some spinach. I’m sad to report  though that my Topsy Turvy tomato plant had an accident and fell to the ground, making a few good breaks in the plant. Although, I do have faith in the Topsy Turvy as the plant is starting to make a comeback!! It appears to be worth more than the $2.00 I paid for it at Dollarama. I look forward to trying this again next year.

carrots-onions-planter-companion

Carrots and Onions

I have planted an Alfresco mix of leaf lettuce in a container as a companion plant to some carrots. I have to say this is by far the nicest lettuce I have had the pleasure of eating. I truly believe companion plantings produce more flavourful vegetables. My son has even eaten it, if you knew how picky of an eater my son can be you’d understand what a success this was.

Kohlrabi-garden

Kohlrabi-garden

What is a kohlrabi?

A kohlrabi is sometimes to referred to as a German turnip. Wikipedia describes  the taste and texture of kohlrabi as ‘ similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter, with a higher ratio of flesh to skin. The young stem in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although much less sweet’ Kohlrabi reminds me of a less crunchy radish with a not so harsh flavour.

Kohlrabi-garden

Kohlrabi peeled-and sliced

How to use a kohlrabi

I’ve already enjoyed kohlrabi from the garden this summer with a bunch still growing in the garden. I grew up eating kohlrabi and have always eaten them raw, sliced like a tomato with a dash of salt. I have been oblivious all these years to the fact that people actually cook them. I am still looking to try new recipes for kohlrabi so I can expand how I am used to working with kohlrabi in the kitchen. Kohlrabi is so good raw and I guess I never about cooking them, why change a good thing right? Now that I know, I need to learn more about this! I would love to hear of any tips or recipes that you may know.

We’ve also enjoyed some green beans, hot peppers and strawberries. We have lots yet to enjoy including carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. The best part is that it is saving me money in my grocery budget because now I get to shop in my backyard enjoying organic produce.

My free rhubarb plant appears to be happy in its new home but I’m not expecting much if any rhubarb at all this year from it. I also planted two more rhubarb plants that I had purchased but I accidentally severed one with the weed whacker. Oops! It should come back, my fingers are crossed. I have really enjoyed finally being able to devote sometime to growing my own garden this year and I am not quite ready to pack it in.  Now is the time to get thinking about what I’m going to plant in my fall garden.

Have you made plans on how you are going to continue enjoy home-grown vegetables into the fall?

Post Contribution By: Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences through blogging in hopes of helping others realize their gardening abilities.While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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Green landscaping with optional goat rental

before-and-after-budget-landscaping-wm

By: Katrina

Boost Curb Appeal The Smart Way

I was recently asked by a Canadian Budget Binder fan to help give her property a bit of a face lift by landscaping her property. First thing we looked at were some ways to save money by reclaiming items for her property that wasn’t going to cost her a fortune.

After getting to know a little about her and her life, I was determined to do the best job I could and to try and save as much money as we could. I’ll get to the goat part….. at the end. This story has a happy ending for the homeowner and for me as landscaping is a passion of mine.

Use existing materials

A common mistake made by many is having too many plants in a single garden, and/or not planted in the most desirable locations. I have lost count of how many plants we moved from poor locations to use in a newly created garden. Take a look around your property and see what supplies you may already have. Throughout the front and back of the property were a good pile of rocks. We brought them all to the front of the house to have a uniform theme throughout.

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I also noticed that her garden shed could have been in a more functional location than where it currently was. Just by moving the shed, that alone changed the feel of her backyard. There was one challenge and that was moving it! I kindly knocked on the neighbours door and asked the teenage son for an extra set of hands, 5 minutes and it was moved!

frugal-landscaping-shed-before-and-after-wm

There was a need for some over-seeding so instead of buying a lot of topsoil we bought 5 small bags for topdressing and used a good amount of soil from an area that was dug out for the patio in the front.

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Mulch for moisture

Mulching is a good idea in any flower garden. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but it is key in creating a low-maintenance garden. It not only looks nice, but if a sufficient amount is maintained on the bed it helps hold moisture in the soil and keeps the weeds down significantly.

In a previous post I wrote,“Free plants and easy ways to save money on gardening” I mentioned ways you can save money on mulch by getting it for free. Though if you’re wanting a particular look, you may have no choice but to pay for it. Figure out what would be cheaper for you, buying it in bulk or buying it in bags although this really depends on your vehicle situation.

If you have access to a pick-up truck, buying in bulk is the way to go. You can easily load a yard of mulch in the back of an average sized truck. Companies will charge a delivery fee and it can be upwards of $50.00 a load so going to pick it up yourself is an easy way you can save money.

If you can’t access a truck, buying in it bags will likely be the cheaper option for you. Keep an eye out for sales on mulch as they do happen often at big box stores or local garden centres. Using the bags can also be more time efficient as you do not have to unload the mulch into a wheelbarrow from the truck. Keep this in mind for purchasing any aggregate, mulch, soil, sand or gravel. We did not have a truck so bagged mulch was what we chose.

On-line resources

Keep an eye out for online ads offering landscaping materials on such sites as Kijiji and Free-cycle. People offer lumber, patio stones, free plants, edging and whatever else they no longer need. If you can use recycled materials for your project you can dump the cost of buying new and save a few bucks. A seating area out front was something on the desired list and we luckily scored a pile of interlocking bricks for $30.00 that I used to build a 50 sq. ft patio.

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Re-use Materials

We also obtained a few re-usable materials such as free plants through Free-cycle. As we continued our search for re-cycled materials we could re-use from others gardens we were able to pick up a few close to free from Kijiji as well. One piece of advice that I can give to you is to air on the cautious side when it comes to picking up free plant or gardening supplies.

Free or not, do not acquire too many plants otherwise you may end up with more than you bargained for and  your garden might not turn out the way you expected it to be. Remember that your garden will fill in as the plants grow so be sure to plan for that so you are not left with an overgrown garden.

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Rent a goat

I had to laugh when I read Mr. CBB’s blog about how to overcome laziness when he joked about renting a goat to help with keeping the lawn trim. In reality, you can! If all else fails, if you are a USA resident there is a company called “Rent a Goat” that will put eco-friendly consumers in touch with goat herders across the globe. Goat rental is very popular option for some people.

Goats are a great ‘green’ approach to cleaning up hard to get access to areas or to clear brush and yes for those who might want to kick back and let the goat do their property upkeep for them. Rent a goat says it’s the environmentally friendly alternative to heavy machinery and toxic chemicals. It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbours because you know they will all come around just to view the goat clearing action.

It’s not the most cost-effective as the goats work 9 am-5 pm and the price is comparable to landscaping companies at upwards of $400 US a day according to the Rent a Goat website. I was not aware that the goats had formed a union and voted for office hours only. Like a professional landscaping quote whether Canadian or American it would also depend on property size, materials and hours involved.

I know I’m not really writing this to be actual advice because it’s not really landscaping, more just cleaning up an overgrown property. The reality is that you can rent a goat and as funny as it sounds many people do just that to help get rid of overgrowth on their property or as Rent a Goat calls it, “cute weed removal”.

I’m afraid I struggled to find a company or farm in Canada who rents goats although I’m sure there are some but I just can’t find any on-line. Then again you could always search Kijiji and on-line ads in hopes of finding goats for sale and forget the rental fees altogether. That’s smart budgeting especially if you can have your new goat make you extra money as a goat for hire. Never know who might need the goat rental service in your area.

Going green paid off

I really enjoyed reclaiming this property no there was need to have an on-site goats to clear land with me as I did all the hard work myself. The owner did not desire an overly modern design or having it look like it came out of a magazine, and was happy with the result. Not only will she enjoy her new landscaping design but she won’t be losing sleep over how much it cost. Landscaping the greener way by being creative, reusing materials and utilizing online resources are 3 great ways you can save money in your budget.

katrina cbb

Post Contribution: 

Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.

Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative  for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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