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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

How to Save Money on Annuals for the Landscape

The title of this post is deliberately misleading. Most of us want to know that top secret tip for how to buy a thing and spend less money. But often, we can save the most money by just cleaning up what we already own.

I usually cut the lavender when in the bud stage to dry the buds for culinary and craft use.
This year, I decided to let the lavender flower for an extended show of color and fragrance
on the deck.

I've been busy in the yard all week. I've pruned trees, hoed the moss and weeds out from under various trees and shrubs, weeded perennial beds, and swept the hard surfaces. This cost nothing but time and labor. 

In previous years, I've bought annuals to pop into pots and beds around the yard to brighten the landscape. This year, I kept my wallet closed and skipped the flats of annual flowers. Instead, I've brightened the landscape by doing those previously-mentioned yard-tidying chores. And you know what? It's really beginning to look nice.

This strategy works for many of our belongings and living areas. If you tidy and clean your home, it won't be new, but it will look heaps better. If you mend, remove stains, and iron your clothing, your outfits won't be hot off the catwalk, but you'll look quite presentable. And, if you wash that old car, it's appearance will outshine the fact that it is now in its second decade of service. 

Taking care of and cleaning up what we own is one of the oldest techniques for saving money while still looking good.

So, that's what I've been doing this week -- making my yard and garden sparkle with time and hard work, saving my money by not buying annuals.

For the flowers, this year I chose to enjoy the many perennials and flowering shrubs that grace our property. When possible, I have moved pots and troughs of perennials and flowering herbs to spots where we will most enjoy their *free* blooms. 

One daughter mowed the front lawn today. Next up, get a daughter to wash the car and my husband to help scrub the patio furniture. Sparkle, sparkle.

I'm writing up what's in my emergency freezer to post late this week (maybe on Saturday), for those interested. I hope you're all enjoying beautiful summer weather.


  1. So true! I did purchase some annuals for the pots on my front porch, though. It gives me a lot of joy to see them all summer long. I think of those who garden with perennials as real gardeners. I just fake it!

    My hubby and kids painted some outdoor areas this spring, including the front porch, a window frame, and the back door. While there is an expense with that, it's pretty small and I can't believe how much better it looks!

    I think you have touched on a great topic, Lili. In our throwaway society, we are losing the skills of tending to our belongings.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Kudos to your hubby and kids for painting this spring! A coat of paint really does wonders.
      My pots on my front porch still have the succulents that I scavenged for them a couple of years ago. They have filled in and look pretty good. I have a medium size pot on the deck that I think I'll do the same with. I love the way mixed succulents look. Some year, I'll try growing some annuals from seeds.

      have a great afternoon and evening, Kris.

  2. Lynn from NC Outer BanksJuly 16, 2020 at 6:47 AM

    I'm jealous that you can grow lavender. I bought some and it quickly died. I thought my climate would be perfect (coastal, zone 8b) but I'm thinking it may have gotten too wet. It is so pretty, aromatic and useful, so this post has me thinking maybe I'll try again! And, yes, I definitely need to make many MANY parts of my house and yard sparkle ;)

    1. Hi Lynn,
      We have pretty soggy soil in our yard. For the lavender and rosemary that I grow (both herbs that like a drier soil), I grow them in trough planters on the deck. The troughs are about 18" X 48" and about 20" high. They seem to do well like this. Years ago, I had a large rosemary bush in a very large terra cotta pot that did well, too. So, a pot or trough might work for you, too.

      Have a great evening, Lynn.

    2. Lynn from NC Outer BanksJuly 16, 2020 at 8:09 PM

      Lili, that is a great suggestion to try troughs for the lavender and a container for rosemary. Like the lavender, my big pretty rosemary bush died as well. It got webs and I read that was from mites due to too much moisture. How I have missed cooking with that rosemary!I had told my husband that I wanted to try growing it again, as I had it for several years before it died and it was a good size, about 4 feet high.

      How deep are the trough planters you used for the lavender-20 inches? I really want both of these herbs back in my garden again. Thanks for the suggestions.

    3. Hi Lynn,
      Yes, both the lavender and rosemary troughs are about 20 inches deep, about what you'd find in a galvanized tub/trough or oak half-barrel. The variety of lavender may make a difference as to how much depth you need. I believe mine is English lavender. Good luck!

  3. This past week, I've been altering clothes as well as mending and patching sheets. It felt good that I was able to give these articles of fabric an extended life. I couldn't get over that not long ago, I would have quickly turned these to rags or rag rugs. Recently I learned how to mend using Boro stitching, and funny how every hole or tear is now seized as an opportunity to Boro stitch. The patch is strong, and decorative as well. My plan is to continue adding patches until the sheet is covered with patching, then turn it into a Boro blanket.

    Good thinking about saving money on annuals. This is what frugality is about. Rethinking our options. Have a great day!!

    1. Hi Laura,
      I hadn't heard of Boro stitching before. So I had to look it up. That's interesting and has a certain visual appeal with some garments. I have a pair of old jeans that have worn thin in an indecent spot. I may have to try something like this.

      have a great day, Laura!

  4. I bought begonias for the front of our house because they are very hard to start from seed and I have found that those are the plants that do best in that location. All of the other annuals, I started from seed or transplanted volunteers. As for sprucing up, a couple of weeks ago I trimmed some bushes and still notice every time I see them how much better they look.

    Straightening and cleaning up can go a long way in making things look better. I sometimes think on some of the makeover shows that if the people would just clean up some of their clutter, their house might not need a remodel. But I guess that doesn't make good TV.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Good job on starting so many of your annuals from seed. Are there any annuals that you've tried that do particularly well from seed? How early in spring do you start the seeds?

      Now that's a show I would watch, actually! I think seeing the difference cleaning and tidying could make would inspire a lot of folks.

      Enjoy your Sunday, Live and Learn.

  5. You're so right that simple cleaning and tidying can make a HUGE difference. Way to go on avoiding spending money on annuals this year. I have quite a lot of zinnias growing (direct sowed from seed) as they do well in our heat and seem to attract hummingbirds to our yard.

    Going to admit I did buy one flat of annuals. I had planned to buy about a dozen vincas (periwinkles) from a local nursery just to fill in a front flower bed. I have hyacinths planted in this bed, and then poppies that reseed, but once all that dies back, it's not attractive just empty. And with our heat, there aren't a lot of flowering things that will do well (think weeks and weeks of upper 90's and 100's). When I went to buy them, the price for a flat was only slightly more than buying 12 individual plants, so I mixed and matched the flat. Ended up with the vincas I had planned on, and a few petunias and marigolds to scatter around the raised beds of vegetables in the back yard to add a bit of color. Pretty happy with how everything turned out having purchased only the one flat. Maybe I can get some seeds and start my own next year.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I can imagine that there are many challenges to gardening with your extended summer heat. It sounds like you made a good choice on your flowers for this year. Good luck on starting seeds next year!

      Have a great day, Cat!


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