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Queen of Free: Money-saving lawn and landscape hacks

The expense of a beautiful yard adds up quickly. But there are ways you can save money and still enjoy some paradise outside your back door.

INDIANAPOLIS — The expense of a beautiful yard adds up quickly with mowing, planting and tending a garden. 

Cherie Lowe, the Queen of Free, said you can save on some of those expenses regardless of whether you do all the work yourself, hire a neighborhood teen to help, or have professionals handle the work.

On 13Sunrise Sunday and in her blog, Cherie shared some of her lawn and garden hacks to save money.

Clean up first

Instead of hitting the garden store and buying a bunch of plants, furniture, and a fancy new hose nozzel, pick up all your sticks and leaves left from from winter and go through your shed and garage to find your rakes and tools. "Cleaning up your outdoor space and reacquainting yourself with your lawn tools will help you realize what you already have and prevent duplicate purchases," Cherie said. 

Do maintenance

Before you fire up the mower, get the blades sharpened and replace the old oil and drain the fuel. This will extend the mower's life. Check social media channels for DIY instructions. If you feel like hauling the mower to a shop, ask first about discounts or coupons when you schedule the work.  

Save on treatments

You probably don’t need to buy expensive chemicals to kill most weeds. Cherie has a non-toxic recipe you can mix at home:

  • 1 gallon of white vinegar 
  • 1 cup of table or epsom salt 
  • 1 squeeze of liquid dish soap
  • Mix in a weed sprayer or spray bottle and squirt on weeds

You will start to see results in a few days.

RELATED: Queen of Free: Spring cleaning basics on a budget

Mulch and compost options

Before you buy mulch in bags or have it delivered and dumped on your driveway, check with your city to see if they offer free mulch to residents. "Some municipalities actually take the limbs collected through its removal service and turn it into mulch available to those who live within the city limits," Cherie said. This mulch is great to ring trees or enhance landscaping. 

Consider starting an open-air compost bin to create your own mulch. Save your vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, lawn clippings, dead leaves, and even cardboard and newspaper. Turn it with a shovel or rake whenever you more or add new organic waste. Just don’t add any dairy products or meat to the mix. The compost will break down all season and be ready for planting and mulching. Keep the pile turning through the winter months for next spring.

RELATED: Pat Sullivan: The right way to mulch

Spruce up furniture

Outdoor furniture may need some TLC after a winter's worth of exposure to the elements. "Don’t just drag what you own to the curb and buy all new," Cherie said. A good scrubbing with mild detergent and warm water followed by a coat of spray paint will extend those chairs for another season or two. For metal, sand off rusty spots, then spray paint.

It’s easy to overspend in the springtime on flowers, mulch and a cute little gnome. "But let’s face it, you can’t afford it all," said Cherie. "So set a cash budget before you leave your yard and commit to sticking to it no matter what you might see"

Watch Cherie's full Sunrise segment in the video player:

"Your back yard creates space for your family to enjoy during the warmer months," Cherie said. "You can take care of it without biting off more than you can chew both physically and financially."

RELATED: Queen of Free: How save on summer party planning

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