If you have a home with a yard then you can't escape the time, effort and money it takes for upkeep. Grass needs cutting, trees need trimming and things need repairing.
We can make frugal choices and plan ahead when working on our lawns so we get the most out of it just like we do when carefully budgeting and meal planning.
What are your best tips for keeping the cost of lawn care down?
don't have a lawn!
I bet my neighbors wish I were kidding, but that is my cost saving lawn care tip. Since I'm in a rental for one more month, I'm trying to do a bit of lawn care because the landlord has been great and I like him. But once I'm moved out to my land full time, my plan is to never do lawn care again. It's expensive and it doesn't mean anything to me personally so I don't care to spend my money and time on that. A friend weed whacked the HECK out of an area around the camper I'll be living in and I've put old carpets (mostly those made of natural fibers like coconut, palm leaves, and leather...one's i've owned for years or found at thrift stores for nearly nothing). That should keep the hay down for now.
The garden area will be surrounded with mulch or cardboard (which turns to mulch in the winter) to keep the grasses and hay down. I'm willing to spend a bit to get native plants reestablished, but not to have a "lawn" now that I'm moving to the boonies.
Those probably aren't the tips people are looking for, but it is an option for the nonconformists who don't mind watching tall plants sway in the breeze, the birds and bees and other insects enjoy the bounty of dandelions and oxeye daisies.
Maggie, I have lived out around the trees and done some of the things you mention.
I like beautifully landscaped yards but my idea on those is different from the cookie cutter neighborhoods with manicured lawns. I am a fan of lush yards that provide habitats and are more natural.
don't have a lawn!
Or, if you're not prepared to go that far, have a smaller lawn. We haven't eliminated all the grass from our yard, at least not yet, but I have been slowly cutting back its territory. A big strip of the front yard is now filled with day lilies, and there are three small "islands" of mulch surrounding new trees. We've also put in a few patches of creeping thyme in the hope that it will spread as much as possible. In the back yard, we replaced some of the grass with a new patio and some with a row of cherry bushes. My eventual goal is to eliminate all the grass in the front yard (so we never have to haul the mower up there) and on the sloped part of the back yard (hoping to put in a terrace with some strawberry beds instead). That will leave just a few small areas of grass that we can easily handle with the reel mower.
In the areas where grass remains, we are overseeding with a blend of perennial ryegrass and microclover, which is low-growing (so it needs less mowing), drought-tolerant (so it needs less watering), and nitrogen-fixing (so it stays nice and green with no added fertilizer). The more of that microclover we have in place of the existing grass, the happier I'll be.