6 Strategies for Saving Money on Landscaping

With water seemingly always in tight supply, try these ideas for reducing usage (and cutting costs) while maintaining an attractive landscape.

A recent NASA lawn study reported that roughly 50,000 square miles of grass currently cover the United States, responsible for around one-third of America's water usage.1 With water in tight supply, smart landscaping can help you conserve water (and money) while maintaining an attractive landscape that’s better suited to our regional climate. Try these simple strategies to help your lawn grow “greener.”

Build a Raised Bed

Raised beds allow root systems to flourish while requiring less watering than ground plants. They’re perfect for growing flowers or vegetables in areas that are hard to work due to uneven terrain, compacted soil or rocks. Raised beds also enjoy a longer growing season and often produce greater yield due to the bed’s ability to hold moisture and prevent pest attacks.

Supplement Your Soil

There are many ways to improve your soil so it does a better job nourishing your grass and other plants. For instance, adding mulch (e.g., compost or wood chips) around plants can improve water retention, inhibit weed growth and keep soil cool. And aeration loosens up compacted soil to improve air and water circulation.

Work in Hardscaping

Hardscaping lets you add diversity to your lawn with materials that vary in color and texture. Replace turf grass with elements like brick, flagstone and granite, and then complement the clean lines with minimalist vegetation, like succulents, for a finished result that requires little to no watering. Consider professional assistance to properly prepare the site and design an effective drainage plan.

Choose Conservative Drip Systems

Drip systems, also known as “micro-irrigation,” are more efficient than traditional sprinkler systems. They’re designed to deliver water directly to plant roots, minimizing loss due to runoff, evaporation and overwatering. By conserving 20 to 50 percent of water usage, a drip system can potentially save you up to 30,000 gallons per year.2

Xeriscape With Hearty Plants

Xeriscaping or “dry landscaping” involves adding low-maintenance native plants to your yard. Vegetation like agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, buffalo grass and zoysia grass can significantly reduce runoff and evaporation due to their limited water needs.

Put Irrigation on Autopilot

Installing automatic irrigation can save as much as 50 percent of your outdoor water use over manual watering systems.3 If you’re already on auto, do a thorough evaluation every few months to ensure the watering times and durations match your needs and the hardware isn’t leaking. If you make any landscaping changes, be sure to tweak your irrigation accordingly.

Moving Forward

If you need a sensible way to finance major water-saving landscape improvements, consider a home equity loan. For smaller needs, your Rabobank credit card can come in handy!


  1. "Six Grasses for low-maintenance drought-resistant lawns,” by Roberta Kruger, Treehugger.com, posted Aug. 2009, http://www.treehugger.com/clean-water/6-grasses-for-low-maintenance-drought-resistant-lawns.html, accessed May 15, 2015
  2. “Water-Saving Technologies,” Watersense—An EPA Partnership Program, http://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/tech.html, accessed May 15, 2015
  3. “Xeriscape, the Art of Water Conserving Landscaping,” by Petz Scholtus, posted on May 15, 2008, http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/xeriscape-the-art-of-water-conserving-landscaping.html, accessed May 15, 2015

Additional sources:

“How to Create a Successful Hardscape,” by Rose Kennedy, HGTV.com, http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/how-to-create-a-successful-hardscape, accessed May 15, 2015
“Conserving Water,” http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ConserveWater.htm, accessed May 15, 2015
“Save Water with a Rain Barrel,” Better Homes and Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/tools/save-water-with-a-rain-barrel/, accessed May 15, 2015
“Build a Raised Bed,” Better Homes and Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/gardening/landscaping-projects/garden-structures/build-a-raised-bed/, accessed May 15, 2015

The information contained in this article is intended for general educational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal, tax, or financial advice. Please consult with your own legal, tax or financial advisor for guidance with your own particular circumstances.