by Tammy Taylor~
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RancherMan & I spend lots of time outside. Not only for our work here on the homestead, but for pleasure too. And we love the view from our back porch. Recently I wrote about expanding that back porch to include an Outdoor Living room – be sure to check that out.
But now that the porch addition has been installed I need to landscape it into the peaceful oasis I’ve got my heart set on. But I need to landscape it on the cheap, y’all. It was surprisingly easy to do. Come see!
Low-Cost Landscaping Stones
I wanted low-maintenance plants around our new porch addition and I had very specific ideas on how I wanted the finished landscaping to look. The porch was built on land that sloped away from the house. So I wanted to build up the area around the porch with landscaping stones and fill it in with soil. I wanted another layer of landscaping stones to hold large galvanized cattle troughs which would also be filled with soil for planting. But I didn’t want to spend much money. Lofty goal? Read on, dear friends.
Those landscape stones can be pricey but we used our credit card rewards points to receive gift cards to a big-box store. (I wrote about this a super-frugal tip that combines with other tips to keep all our monthly expenses small, check it out!)
The price of those landscape stones were paid using points for things we buy every month anyway such as groceries, gas and cattle feed.
Planting Soil For A Song
You know how it is, for some reason buying DIRT is pricey! So we did a little searching. We found a local guy who had a sand & gravel business. He dumped a tractor-bucket full of sandy soil into huge tubs placed in the back of our truck for a mere $25.
That same soil purchased in large plastic sacks from a big-box store would have been several hundred dollars. Oh, and there would have been all that plastic to deal with too! (have I mentioned lately how much I hate plastic?)
I talked about the soil acquisition on my latest 5-Frugal Ways I Saved Money & The Environment I posted recently.
Then we went to a rock company and got a large, flat landing rock for the bottom of each step. RancherMan used a sealer we already had in the shop leftover from another project to seal it. He just liked the way it made them look wet, intensifying the color variations. I must say I agree.
Bee Friendly & Edible Landscaping
When the beds were built it was time to start adding the plants. I don’t have to tell you how quickly that can add up to a wad of cash! But I was after a primarily edible landscape plan with lots of bee-friendly flowers.
I fell in love with a plant called CandyTuft. They bloom bright white, spread gradually and are evergreen. I’m not fond of drab winter months so I was excited over an evergreen option. So I bought a couple to add some visual interest for all seasons. Plus the bees will love it.
Gifted & Transplanted Plants
And my aunt dug this wispy grass (I have no idea what it’s called but I love it) from a section of her flower beds where it had popped up unwanted. I brought it home & planted it here. Love it!
And I pulled the tiny Crepe Myrtle tree out of my veggie garden where it came up as a volunteer plant. Not wanted in the veggie garden, but much loved here! It’s all about taking what you’ve already got & putting it where it works best for you.
My sister gave me three small lavender plants that were leftover from her daughter’s wedding. I love lavender and so do the bees. So of course I incorporated them into this landscape! I also purchased a little fern-leaf lavender just because I’d never seen them before and it was beautiful.
Then of course I transplanted a clump of thyme and oregano from the garden. The bees love it when they bloom. I also transplanted several clumps of tiny seedum that originally came from my grandparent’s home decades ago. It will make a nice maintenance-free ground cover which will help conserve moisture in the sandy soil.
On the other side I transplanted more seedum and a sprinkling of Alyssium seeds that I found in my seed stash from years ago. I didn’t know if they would, but they germinated! I love those tiny purple blooms. I’ve already purchased low-lying flower seeds for next year’s planting. The store put them on a flash sale to get rid of them after planting season was done, so I snatched them up for cheap and will store them in my refrigerator until next spring.
On the east side of the porch I transplanted a small cilantro plant that had volunteered itself in the garden. And my aunt gave me a small dill plant too that she was going to have to remove from her own beds. Gotta love herbs this fresh! Hey, just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful too. And the bees love those blooms.
Oh, and here’s a clever thing too. During the hottest part of the summer, the sun is as far in the northern sky as it can go. So when it comes up it often glares right in our faces until it gets high enough to be shaded by the porch. But by then it’s too hot to be lounging outside drinking our morning coffee.
I had a partial packet of Mammoth Sunflower seeds in my seed stash. So I’ve planted a couple of mammoth sunflowers both for the natural sun screen they’ll provide with their huge leaves as well as the plate-sized blossoms that I love and are the bee’s delight. As soon as they grow taller, RancherMan & I can sip our coffee outside and be shaded from the sun in the cooler early morning hours.
Edible Landscape In Troughs
There is a large galvanized water trough sat up on a layer of terrace stones on either side of the porch entrance. Into one of those troughs I planted carrots for their pretty lacy greenery and spinach for it’s chunky crinkly texture. I also transplanted a crown of asparagus for it’s light ferny look. And of course another of my sister’s gifted lavender plants.
In the other trough I planted the lacy-carrot border as well, but anchored it with garlic bulbs pulled from my grandmother’s home almost 20 years ago. Sentimental food!
I also wanted a jalapeno plant in this trough planter. It’ll be convenient when RancherMan’s grilling. We love roasted jalapenos and now he can harvest & grill a few right then, right there! I have a *terracotta watering spike to keep the jalapeno watered. I thought the Dos XX bottle was apropos!
Even the wood mulch I added for a finished look was free! So with gifted extra plants, transplants from other areas, researching soil companies, using credit card points for the stone and finding free bark mulch, this entire landscaping job was miniscule to our budget!
It’s still a work in progress. RancherMan is setting up another rainwater catchment system using another galvanized water trough. It’s gonna be awesome and I can’t wait to share that with you when it’s done!
Plus if you’ve ever dealt with Bermuda grass, you know what a challenge it can be to keep it out of your beds. RancherMan & I are currently involved in an experiment with a Bermuda-Grass Barrier that so far has been 100% effective at keeping that dang Bermuda grass from encroaching on all my plantings. #canyoubelieveit??!!
Want To Read More About Our Porch Extension?
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea. There are lots of good folks sharing!