Landscaping on a budget

July 20, 2009 "Get across the street or at the curb line and look into the property as a guest or someone who hasn't seen you in a long time," said Joe Ascenzi of Laurel Hill Gardens.

If you see thin spots, or areas that are overgrown, you may be able to fix your landscaping without spending much more than elbow grease.

"A lot of the material might need to be transplanted or spread out or a little pruning might make the whole foundation look a lot fresher and cleaner."

If you do want to bring in new plants and flowers, your neighbors' gardens may be a good place to look for ideas. They likely have similar soil conditions, so plants that grow well for them, will probably do well for you, too.

"You take an inventory of what you have maybe a few digital photos and walk into a local neighborhood garden center and explain to them your goals, budget and let them guide you through."

In addition to taking digital photos make a rough map of your property and note which areas are sunny, shaded or hilly. Then ask the garden center experts for their ideas on plants that will work in those conditions and within your budget.

"$100 or less you can have a pretty good impact a little bit of muscle and $100 you can get a lot done."

Perennials plants that come back year after year are good long-term investments. These often spread out over time, so a few small plants end up making a big impact.

Here are Joe's top six picks for budget-friendly landscaping plants:

Butterfly bushes smell wonderful and sell for as little as six dollars each.

"In terms of stretching your dollar one of these put in in the early spring or summer it's quite big by the end of the summer and it really has a big impact on landscape."

He also likes Clethra, which bloom from June through October, do well in the shade, and are very pest-resistant. They sell for 18 to 39 dollars each. Joe's third choice is Towering Phlox, which sell for 3 to 15-dollars each and multiply three- to four-fold each year.

He also likes perennial daylilies, which re-bloom and multiply throughout the summer. They sell for 3 to 10 dollars each.

Wintergreen boxwood evergreens are also a good investment. Each plant is about 18 to 50 dollars, but they're low maintenance and will grow a good 8 to 10 inches a year.

Finally, he suggests Liriope, which multiply quickly, even in hard-to-grow spots.

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