Saving by Gardening

Everyone's looking to save money these days and one of the most obvious yet underutilized places to cut costs is in your garden. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com offers tips on how the hobby can save you some green.

First, collect rain water. Taking advantage of rainy days can cut your water bill. Put a rain barrel or other container outside to collect a few gallons; enough to round the flower beds with a watering can. Over a few months, you could easily save more than $50.

It's also good to remember to mow sparingly. Grass that's cut too short will struggle to grow and require more water. Never chop off more than a third of its height at a time, and keep it at least three inches tall. Also, don't bag the clippings. They provide the law with water and nutrients.

A good way to regulate the temperature in your home is to plant trees around the house. Strategically planted, trees can cut annual heating and cooling bills by up to 25%. Plant evergreens on the north side of your house to block the winter winds, and deciduous trees along the south side to shield against the summer sun. The average household could save $300 a year by doing this.

And it's also best to super-size containers. With houseplants, window boxes and other potted plants, make sure there is plenty of room in the container for growth over the course of the season. Without enough soil, there's nothing to retain water and the plants will need more frequent watering.

And finally, use local flora around the home. Every plant has specific soil, climate, sun and water needs. A garden center can point you to native and drought-resistant varieties that work best for your region and your yard which could help cut your outdoor water bills in half.

For more tips on how to save on utility bills and other financial issues, visit SmartMoney.com.
by Kelli Grant and Jenn Eaker
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