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Spring Cleaning, Outdoors Edition: Plant Bed on a Budget

March 21, 2011



I never really thought I’d be into gardening, unless it was for vegetables. If I can’t eat it, who cares?  But this warm weather has gotten me motivated to do some Spring cleaning outdoors. It’s amazing what a little work outside can do for your home, and once I got going, I couldn’t believe how much more I wanted to do!  If you are hesitant to start or have a black thumb, no worries – it’s okay if you don’t know what you are doing. Capitalize on your cluelessness. I have found that this actually works in your favor. I am sometimes intimidated to get started, since there is so much to learn about planting, but I’ve realized that sometimes the less you know, the better. People at Lowe’s or Home Depot are always happy to help, and you really don’t have to spend a good deal of money to make a big difference.

You can see from the picture on the left that, before we started, this plant bed was looking pretty sad. We moved in a year ago, but spent so much time on the inside of the house that we barely had time to maintain the outside, and this poor plant bed was an unfortunate casualty. You can see from the picture on the right that we definitely spruced it up – and the only thing we purchased was a  bag of black mulch and a bag of topsoil from Lowe’s, which totaled less than $10! Here’s how you can make/spruce up a plant bed on a budget:

If you already have a rock border, like we did, then just neaten them up by straightening out the rocks. If you don’t have a border, no worries – a plant bed can look just as good without a border. Once you have that established, grab your shovel, and start turning the soil.

Here all you are really trying to do is mix the soil around, break up any roots and pull out any weeds or anything you don’t want. We decided to keep this low, green plant on the left since it was in decent condition , but everything else went to the compost pile. Once you are done, you now have loose soil that will be great to plant in.

Next, decide what you want to plant. The best thing to do when on a budget is to take a look around. Chances are, you’ve got more at your disposal than you think. Case in point: in our yard, we had a cute little red tree. The problem with the tree is that it is smack in the middle of nowhere, and always gets overlooked. When something this small is either in a too-busy area or somewhere all by itself,  it’s hard to really notice it or do it any justice. But when you take it and feature it, and put it to scale, suddenly it can look great. (When you think about it, this applies to decorating, fashion, cooking, etc.) Once we dug this little tree out and put it in the smaller bed with our mailbox, this proved to be true here as well.

Take another short walk around your yard and see what else you can find. We found these Iris’s collecting dust in another plant bed. There were already so many of them, so we dug a few up enough for three smalll clusters and planted them in the bed with the mailbox. *Tip: When planting, or decorating, things always look better in groups of 3’s (ie: 3 pictures on a wall, 3 vases on a table, etc.)*

Once that’s finished, take another look around for a rock, or maybe you have a garden statue, and set it down in the center. If you don’t have anything else at your disposal, head over to a Lowe’s or Home Depot, or any nursery, and ask someone there. Once you have all of your items you want in the plant bed, add a bag of mulch and spread it around to cover the soil. Give your plant bed a good drink with the hose, and you are done!

Sometimes you don’t realize how much the little things make a big difference, and how much your environment impacts your mood, until you make a small change such as adding a plant bed to your property. Even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, it pays to hire someone to make a subtle change and add a bright spot to your day. I’m discovering that the more little projects I do around the house, the more I want to actually enjoy the house, instead of running out all the time. With everything going on in this world, it’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to slow down and appreciate the little things that matter. So, make a small plant bed. Then stay in and get comfortable, pour yourself a drink, take a walk around your property, and admire the work you just did. If you don’t have time to make a plant bed, you work-a-holic, you, then grab a small container plant from the grocery store, fill a flask with vodka, and head back to your cube. I promise, it will brighten your day. HAPPY SPRING!!!!

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