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Gardening on a Budget
Landscaping a yard can be an expensive endeavor. However it doesn’t need to be. There are a few ways you can save money and establish a bird-friendly garden at the same time. We have put together some tips to help you achieve your gardening goals whilst saving some money:
Get it right the first time
The easiest and quickest way to loose money on your garden is for your plants to wither up and die because you have selected the wrong plants for your place or you haven’t taken care of them in those first critical months.
Do your research – know the characteristics of your garden and find out about the types of plants suitable to the climate and soil you have. Ensure that you mulch the new plants well and you keep up the water to them initially (at an appropriate level for the variety you have planted). Don’t plant during extreme weather (middle of summer or the middle of winter) to avoid unnecessary stress on the plants.
Don’t think you have to plant out your entire garden in one weekend, or even one year. Start with a small patch of your garden and plant it densely rather than spreading a few plants over a large area. Remember, small birds need density so this planting regime will encourage them into your garden much quicker than a sparsely planted one. Remember you don’t need to start from scratch (in fact it is better if you don’t) – add to what is already existing in your garden and let new plants establish before you even think about removing anything. This is better for the birdlife and also better for the aesthetics of your garden.
They may look small, but tubestock (young plants in small tube containers) will grow quickly and often establish better quality root systems than larger and more expensive plants. They are also considerably cheaper than larger plants. But always check out the quality of the tubestock (or any plant in general) before you buy it. Look for plants with no flowers (you want them initially putting their energy into growing in your garden rather than flowering), healthy foliage and without long damaged roots hanging out of the base of the pot.
Plants that are locally native to your area (that is, they were found there before we developed the land) are suited to the climatic conditions and usually will grow well. Get a hold of a locally native plant list from your Local Council and do your research on the types of natives available. These lists will often give you important information such as the height the plant will grow and what wildlife it will attract.
Your Local Council will also be able to direct you to your nearest native nursery. Tubestock at these nurseries is usually much cheaper than larger chain nurseries and the stock is fresher as they have less stock to care for. Nowadays a lot of councils also have their own nurseries and offer plants to rate payers either free or at a discount rate. They also often have special sales at different times of the year. Enquire about discounts for buying in bulk as well.
Remember native plants require less attention, fertilizers and chemicals - all saving you costs. Avoiding pesticides will encourage insect activity and provide a great food source for many birds.
Your garden can make wonderful use of scraps lying around your house and yard:
- Who doesn’t have a spare plant saucer lying around? Instant bird bath! It can be placed on the ground if you don’t have pets in your yard, fixed on a post for pedestal bath or suspended from a tree limb. Check out our bird bath page for an easy guide to putting out a bird bath.
- Get a hold of old timber pallets or off cuts to build a nest box yourself – there are nest box dimensions available for free here. For the cost of some nails and screws you can have a fantastic place for hollow-nesting birds to live in.
- Try using old tires or timber sleepers to create garden beds.
- We all know about composting - recycle your food scraps by turning it into compost and using it on your garden. Don't forget to also collect fallen leaves and lawn clippings to add to the compost and to use as mulch on the garden.
- Water costs are skyrocketing so anything you can do to cut down on using the hose is a good thing - mulch, use wetting agents and install a rainwater tank to use to save money in the long run.
By using even some of the tips outlined above you will achieve 2 important goals - saving money and creating a garden that birds, and other wildlife, will love.
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