It’s no secret many people are looking for ways to save a buck here and there. While gardening can be an investment, I’ve got some tips for you on how to save money and protect the environment while enjoying your landscape.

First, get to know your yard. If you’re new to your home and it was already landscaped, learn about your soil and the various plants. You’ll also want to learn about the different wildlife that may be in your area. Even if you live in town, it’s a safe bet you’ll find a few rabbits, and maybe even deer that call your neighborhood home.

Plants cost money, so choose the right plant for the right spot. Know the light and water requirements, as well as the ultimate size of the plant. Choose options that require less water, fertilizer, pruning and pesticides.

Many homeowners will see an increase in their water bill during the summer months, so it’s important to make the most of your irrigation techniques. Zone your irrigation system by watering turf separately from other areas of the landscape. Group together plants with similar watering needs. Water only when needed, but make sure the moisture reaches the root zone. Also, consider covering bare soil with mulch and using drip irrigation for trees and shrubs. Homeowners also may want to consider replacing turf with high irrigation requirements for a more drought-tolerant grass species.

If you discover a pest problem, make sure the pest is correctly identified and use the most appropriate method to control the problem. Many problems can be easily controlled without pesticides if you catch them early enough. Remember, not all insects are bad; some feed on unwanted pests. Don’t use pesticides if beneficial insects are present.

Before using any pesticides or fertilizers, read and follow label directions. Know the do’s and don’ts of product usage. Be sure to use proper storage and disposal methods.

Make the most out of your grass clippings, leaves and other organic materials in your yard and build a compost pile. You’ll create a great additive you can incorporate into your soil. And the best part is it’s free.

Something else to consider is mowing your lawn at the highest recommended setting and leave clippings in place. By not bagging the clippings and disposing of them, you’re saving space in the landfill.

Be environmentally wise. Prevent fertilizer, pesticides, yard debris and pet waste from entering water sources of waste water systems. Use pesticides only when and where they are needed and don’t apply fertilizer or pesticides just prior to an expected heavy rain event.

Lastly, be a good neighbor. Regardless of whether you have a traditional lawn or a more naturalized landscape, keep your yard safe, clean and well maintained to add beauty to your neighborhood.

David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with Oklahoma State University cooperative extension.

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