Happy Fourth, everybody! I hope you’re enjoying the lake/beach/pool/park today–I’m headed over to a pool party in a bit, but wanted to blast out a quick post about zeroscaping, or as I like to call it, frugalscaping.
The first and only major expense since I paid off my student loans occurred in April, right after paying off the last of loans. I spent $1,800 on landscaping–but this wasn’t just about yard beautification.
During the first weekend of April, I took delivery of 26 tons of 1.5″ washed river gravel, 3.5 tons of Hill Country white boulders, and a quarter-ton of black star gravel. And then I zeroscaped.
I mowed my lawn with the mower on the lowest setting, killed the grass with weed killer, capped most of the sprinkler heads, laid down the thickest weed barrier that money could buy, bordered the flower beds with boulders, and spread the gravel…all 26 tons, over my front and back yard, all in one three-day weekend.
The landscaping business that Michael and I ran specialized in this type of landscaping, so it only made sense to get high on my own supply.
The $1,800 is an investment. Here’s why–
Costs for a grassy yard in Austin:
- Watering: $150/month (conservative by some estimates)
- Mowing: $20/hour/week (I cut my own grass when I had it, but if I value my free-time at $20/hour, then this is a fair way to dollarize the task of mowing)
- Fertilizer: $50/year
If there are six months of watering and mowing–April-September, conservatively–then that’s $900 in watering, $500 in mowing, and $50 in fertilizer for a total of $1,450. I literally haven’t turned my sprinklers on since I turned them off back in September to pay back my student loans.
With a balance of $350 after taking away $1,450 from $1,800, I’ll recoup my costs in the first two months of next season, and then it’s pure upside from there on out. The ROI helps because I did it all by myself–I can imagine a company charging $4k+ to do this, stretching out the payback period by several seasons.
Here are some pics of the backyard with the project 90% complete. Note that my yard was severely neglected since I stopped watering and fertilizing it in September and since I knew I was going to be razing it all as soon as I paid off my loans.
Weed barrier down. Just add gravel.
This is the “after.” Before I moved 26 tons of gravel with it, the edge was actually straight!
Another benefit was reclaiming floor and wall space in my garage after selling my lawn mower and fertilizer spreaders.