Landscaping and Garden

Green landscaping with optional goat rental

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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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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  1. Nice landscaping job! I don’t think I’ll be renting a goat any time soon but it’s pretty cool that there are people out there doing that. Definitely an outside-of-the-box idea.

  2. Great tips. I love reusing materials to gain something. There is nothing wrong with that. I think the pictures show that a lot of things can be done. I have heard about renting a goat, but I don’t think I would need that at my house.

    1. I don’t think I would need one either, but what a great idea for abandoned properties where you wouldn’t want to take a machine in because you don’t know what’s in the grass? Goats do not eat everything, as many say but they could cut back the grass to expose the refuse and avoid damage to mowers. This property didn’t require goats and was a pleasure to do. Thank you for reading 🙂

  3. Amazing job on the landscapting. Looking at the before and after pictures, its hard to believe its the same yard. The greas looks beautiful.

    I particularly liked the backyard improvements shown in the first 2 pictures.

    My wife and I did the landscaping on our yard too.

    Yet, because we live in an arid area, we did just the opposite of you. We removed the grass and most of the vegetation from the yard and replaced it with decorative rocks, in order to reduce water use. And, we channeled runoff water from the roof to few trees and bushes that we have.

    1. Thank you Terry. You have to adapt to your climate, it certainly makes it easier! Great use of your rainwater too 🙂

  4. I would love, love, love a goat, but my husband won’t let me have one. All the dogs I want, but no goats! Maybe I could talk him into it if we could rent them out and make some money!

  5. Wow ! Awsome job !!! You are very talented. Hey ! I’m in U.S.A. Maby I need to start a rent a goat business . That’s some serious money they make. 😀

  6. I must note an error…Mary was very much involved in this project, she wouldn’t quit! A remarkable woman 🙂

  7. This looks awesome Katrina!!! I can’t believe how much better it looks now!!! You hit a point that I get to argue with hubby about…. he likes things to look nice and full right away!!!!! I read the tags to see how big the plant will get so I can space them better…….. drives him nuts!!! It can be a real trick to hold him back…..I still remember planting one of the raised beds, there were 2 daylilies, 3 shasta- Alaska, a Lupine and 3 little Sweet Williams. I had them all nicely spaced to allow for growth… first thing out of his mouth when he saw it…. “Are you sure you got enough plants??? We can get more plants if you want… do you want to get more plants..wecangetmoreplantsdoyouwanttogetmoreplants…” I finally told him No…once I could get a word in edgewise…. give them a month or two…they will grow….He was clearly not happy about waiting. The Shastas alone had been 4″ pots and I had spaced them in a loose triangle about 15-18 inches apart, 6 weeks later they were one big clump a couple of feet across and 3 ft high…. My daylilies are huge right now. They, along with the shastas have been divided once already and need it again. He has finally learned to wait for things to grow….. I think……

    1. Thanks Christine, it was a fun job to do! If your husband wants them to look full right away tell him he’s the one who can go out in a few months and start transplanting! 😉

      1. Katrina… I’m not sure the plants would appreciate that!!!! There are some very good reasons why he is not allowed in the garden besides the fact he will over plant!!! His idea for overcrowding in plants is to rip everything out by it’s poor roots!!!! He’s not subtle at all that boy….. I don’t even dare to let him loose to weed without supervision!!!

  8. I’ve always joked about renting a sheep! 🙂 I think a push mower would be an easier way to keep your lawn in check in an environmentally friendly way than renting a goat – but not as much fun!

    1. The goats have been used a lot on abandoned properties where taking a push mower in can even be risky because you have no idea what is in the grass/weeds. I agree too though that watching the goats do their work would be more enjoyable! 🙂

    1. Thanks Jacob, I had a great time doing it. How about raising your own goat? You gain a family pet and a lawn mower! 😉

  9. About the goat … Goats are very practical in areas that are rocky, steep or hilly. Trucks and tractors can’t get everywhere! I know there are places in California that use goats in areas like this as a means of fire prevention from the dried out grass in Summer.
    Another consideration : Compact soil. Trucks, tractors etc really compact the soil. ( This is really bad for you non gardeners). If you used tractors, you may then need to pay someone to aerate your soil.
    Finally, Mr. CBB …. Goats poop. If you don’t mow the lawn then you get to shovel goat poop!
    ~ Christie

    1. I’ve read lots about goats the past couple of days. The photo in the post is one of many I have from my trip to Portugal. I guess you can’t win right? You either mow or scoop lol.. Thanks for dropping by Christie!

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