Get a Tarp
Use a tarp to move lightweight bulky debris like leaves, weeds, and even brush. Use it to hold soil when digging a hole, to keep the grass clean. Use it to cover plants in the back of the truck when driving home from buying your plants.
Use Weed Fabric Strategically
Landscape fabric is most useful under gravel or mulch walkways to keep the material from sinking into the soil. Skip the weed barrier fabric in planted areas. It only provides a short-term sense of accomplishment until the weeds start growing in the mulch on top of the fabric.
Create an Edge
Make a natural edge around beds instead of buying plastic or metal edging. Edging is useful to give a particular look to the landscape. However, a natural edge allows for easier maintenance over the long term and provides more flexibility for changes to the landscape.
Use Starter Fertilizer
Use a starter fertilizer whenever you plant anything. Starter fertilizers can provide a tremendous boost to new plantings. The best products have low nitrogen, a bit more phosphorous, and most importantly mycorrhizae-beneficial fungi that help to greatly increase the soil area from which plant roots draw their sustenance. A good starter fertilizer combined with good planting technique is an awesome insurance policy.
Choose Wisely Between Bulk and Bagged
Choose wisely between bulk and bagged mulch, soil, and stone. Buy bulk material when it can be dumped on the spot where it will be spread. Buy bagged material if it must be moved again after delivery. Both of these strategies will save time, work and money.
Only buy good quality tools. The best quality may be a bit too costly, and an unnecessary expense for weekend DIYers. Cheap tools are likely to break in the middle of the first job. Save money and time by buying good quality at value prices.
Consolidate annuals in pots or beds at high-visibility locations in the landscape for maximum impact. It would be very costly to plant new annual color throughout the entire landscape every season. Use these high-impact, long-bloomers in key locations like the mailbox, entryway, and patio containers.
Make Mowing Fast and Easy
Group plantings into beds and islands and mulch them well to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant.
Keep the Leaves
Don’t send leaves to the landfill. Mow small quantities into the lawn to provide a light dose of fertilizer for the grass and food for earthworms. Use a bagging mower or leaf shredding blower/vac to grind up fall leaves for use as mulch or add them to the compost pile. Till them into the vegetable garden before planting winter cover crops.
Recycle the Grass Clippings
Use a mulching mower instead of bagging and dumping grass clippings. This will cut fertilizer requirements by 30%.
Test Your Soil
Get your lawn and garden soil tested by LSU. Guessing on fertility requirements can lead to costly mistakes. Soil test results will show the current conditions and what needs to be applied for your type of lawn, flower garden, vegetable crops, etc. The kits are available here.
Work From a Plan
Create a master plan for your landscape, but work in phases. Keep the budget in check and get the maximum effect by focusing on small projects that are part of the big picture. When one project is complete, move to the next.
Buy Enough the First Time
To know how much soil or mulch to buy, you need to know how to calculate square footage of the area (length x width for square or rectangular areas), and how to convert cubic feet of the material for coverage of an area at specified depth ( #cubic feet x 4 gives the number of square feet with three inches of coverage). Make fewer trips to the garden center by purchasing the right amounts of mulch and soil the first time.
Buy Enough Plants
Don’t run out of your varietal choices. Buy more flowers than you think you’ll need…you can always find a place to use them.