By Andrew Stucken
Alphabet I It’s a great time of year for kick-starting projects around the home and garden. Andrew Stucken suggests how to makeover your surroundings without damaging your finances:
Windowbox gardeningWindowbox gardening
In the garden…
Plant perennials They may not be as colourful as annuals but the saving is obvious. Once bought they will keep on giving.
Grow your own fruit and vegetables – and avoid expensive supermarket products. Better still, you can be sure it is organic.
Use cuttings to grow plants and avoid the expense of buying new. Softwood and semi-hardwood plants lend themselves best to this, e.g. cornus, hydrangea, buddleia, clematis, lilac, and spirea; as well as azaleas, holly and rhodedendron.
Use free fertiliser Many farms offer free manure simply to get rid of it. Some local councils are meanwhile offering bags of compost – made from green garden waste – for free or very cheaply.
Prune that overgrown rhododendron rather than replacing it. Right now, late March-early April, is the time to be cutting it down – to 18 inches high. It will regenerate into the plant you want with routine maintenance in one to two years.
Cut weedkiller costs by using leftover water from a boiled kettle to destroy weeds on paths and patios – and avoid exposing wildlife to nasty toxins at the same time.
In the home…
Make your own cleaning solutions using basic household ingredients. Baking soda, white vinegar, lemons, salt, hydrogen peroxide and even olive oil can be used for various cleansing tasks throughout the home. See www.thegreenguide.com/home-garden/cleaning for further ideas.
Install dimmer switches to allow precise adjustment of light levels and of course save power.
Borrow specialised tools from a neighbour instead of hiring them at considerable expense.
If you use firewood, spring is the time to stock up as it tends to be cheaper.
When painting, try asking at the DIY shop for mistints – paint which has been wrongly mixed. It cannot be sold but may be just the right shade for your living room.
Use old sheets or sheets from charity shops instead of dust sheets.
When you have used a good part of a large tin, store paint in a smaller container to prevent it from drying out and avoid waste.
Indoors and out…
Use Freecycle at www.uk.freecycle.org to swap and get all kinds of home and garden tools for free.
Written by Andrew Stucken, his opinions are his own and for general information only. Always seek independent, professional, financial advice.