Chip Wade's Top Money-Saving Yard Tips

Learn from the best how to keep costs low without sacrificing gorgeous landscaping.

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Chip Wade

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Photo By: Ben Rollins

Chip Wade

Chip Wade's Georgia garden is the result of a great deal of time, effort and manpower as well as a lot of DIY ingenuity. Chip Wade shared his cost-saving tips for the yard and garden with HGTV.

Dream Home

Stunning gardens define resident Chip Wade's Atlanta home.

Keep It Natural

Focus on using natural boulders for retaining walls and other features says Wade. It keeps your garden from getting too formal, and formal is expensive.

Mix Materials

One of the best ways to bring visual interest to your garden says Wade, is to mix materials: boulders, pavers, pebbles, river stone. It not only gives a more naturalistic look, you aren't tied to just one high-cost material, but you blend pricier and more inexpensive materials.

Work With Slopes

Don't see an elevation change as an impediment or unfortunate circumstance, but as an opportunity. A garden with levels adds more interest, and is more naturalistic without the cost of hauling in materials to create elevation variety.

Landscape With Perennials

Annuals have to be replaced seasonally, but perennial plants like these hostas and heucheras will come back year after year and eventually grow to fill out your garden (Wade's garden is still relatively young). The cost savings is clear, says Wade: fill your yard with smaller (cheaper) perennials and you only have to plant once.

Buy an Assortment of Plants

Don't put all of your landscaping eggs (or dollars) in one basket. Wade recommends buying an assortment of plants if you aren't sure what will do well in your landscape, to see what does well. That way, you won't waste money on all the same kind of plants that might not do well. But definitely do your research before you plant: check that what you are buying will work with the soil, light levels and the garden zone where you live.

Don't Overplant

Save your money and remember that less is more. You'll want to leave plenty of space between plants and buy smaller versions of the plants you like. Allow them time to grow and enjoy the progression.

Don't Overthink Your Fire Pit

You don't have to spend a fortune on a custom fire pit. Wade recommends a simple fire pit surface of stone, crushed gravel or other non-flammable material of at least 6-7 feet wide. It doesn't have to be complicated or constructed, just big enough to serve as a safe buffer between the fire and your yard. Wade's fire pit does double duty as a yard tool and a place he can burn fallen debris, sticks and other yard waste. And make sure your fire pit has proper drainage so it doesn't become a haven for mosquitoes, advises Wade.

Order Wisely

When doing a backyard project it's smart to have a ground plan so you can order exactly how much hardscape material you will need so nothing is wasted. Also remember, larger rocks like the ones seen here made great impromptu outdoor seating. Choose a rock that is at least 18-24" high for comfortable seating, advises Wade.

Know Your Yard

Before you plant, be aware of whether you will be planting in full sun (six hours or more of direct sun), full shade (less than four hours of direct sun a day) partial shade/partial sun (four to six hours of direct sun a day). If a plant isn't thriving where you planted it, then don't be afraid to move it to a better location rather than giving up on it, says Wade.

Paint With Mulch

Tinted mulch is an easy and inexpensive way to bring visual interest to your yard. Wade likes to use black mulch to set off green foliage and uses brown-tinted mulch in more naturalistic areas. Mulch also brings a crips, tailored edge and helps you define your garden borders.

Learn When to Fake It

More and more homeowners are embracing artificial grass (especially in drought-plagued California) as a water-saving, low-maintenance alternative to a turf lawn. You can also use the occasional artificial boxwood here and there in containers, says Wade, as long as you don't go overboard: balance fake and real to better fool the eye.

Mulch for Slopes

Chip Wade recommends using long needle pine needles when landscaping slopes, where it tends to do better than pine bark mulch.

Cool Containers

An array of stylish containers create decorative vignettes in your garden. Chip Wade used cast iron plant in these containers: it's very hardy and gives a feeling of an indoor houseplant. Use graduated pairs of containers for a more interesting composition.

Cost-Saving Succulents

Succulents are the ultimate cost-saving plants, notes Wade, who demonstrates how to gingerly break off part of the plant and then stick in the ground for it to root. Voila! Two plants for the price of one.

Go for Grasses

Chip Wade recommends planting water-loving plants like grasses near a water feature like this beautiful stream running through his Georgia backyard. "You're basically trying to create the utopian version of what would happen naturally" says Wade.

Landscaper's Golden Rule

Follow the landscaper's rule of thumb, says Wade and always plant in groups of three, five and seven for balance in the garden. And get more bang for your buck by choosing striking color combos. Purple and chartreuse is a classic combination.

A River Runs Through It

If you are going to add a water feature to your home, advises Chip Wade, try a river versus a pond. A river adds movement, and a gorgeous naturalistic element to any garden. And with a river you have the ability to swim and play in it. Once installed a river also doesn't entail the same maintenance costs that you will have with a pond.

Rethink Your Outdoor Upholstery

Save time and money by keeping outdoor upholstery to the bare minimum. Even the most durable outdoor fabrics collect dirt and grime and will need regular replacement notes Wade.

Paint Smart

Wade likes inexpensive pine furniture, like these Adirondack chairs, for outdoors. Maintenance is surprisingly easy: keep a good coat of a high-end UV protectant, high-enamel paint or finish including a primer and two top coats on your furniture to help even inexpensive materials last longer.

Have a Light Plan

For added drama Chip Wade has over 500 lights on his property including uplights, downlights and even lights in the water. If budget is a concern, start with path lighting.

Mix Up Short and Tall

Chip Wade advises planting in containers of various heights in the garden to avoid a too symmetrical, matchy-matchy look. And here's a cool tip: the big new trend is to plant trees in containers. To avoid having your tree outgrow its container or having to overwinter inside, Wade knocks out the bottom of his container and plants the tree directly in the ground.

Custom Features

When you are designing a custom yard feature, you can get creative with materials. Chip Wade created this cool water slide feature using a sewage drainage pipe (much cheaper than a commercial slide) inside and disguised the slide with these cute Hobbit-style wooden door.

DIY Water Slide

A peak inside the "Hobbit slide."

Water Slide Demo

Chip Wade demonstrates the water slide in his Atlanta backyard.

Pergola and Planters

Wade used this cedar pergola to break up space on his Atlanta home. He recommends staining a large pergola like this one on the ground and then assembling it.

Blend Outdoors and End

Some of Chip Wade's outdoor landscaping tips cost nothing. If you have plants in containers, place them close to the house to bring landscaping up to the structure itself. The wood pergola, which will eventually be covered with climbing hydrangea, is another way to integrate architecture and landscape.

Grass Driveway

Chip Wade uses a plastic honeycomb grid underneath his lawn so that he can drive on it, a great way to move supplies like hardscape and plants to the backyard.

Keep Weeds at Bay

The kind of initial investment that pays off in the long term, black landscaping plastic placed under mulch (with X's cut for trees) keeps weeds at bay, which means less time maintaining your garden.

Long Needle Pine Straw

Save money in key garden locations with long needle pine straw which Wade says takes much longer to deteriorate.

Buy in Bulk

Chip Wade recommends buying stone and rock in bulk at landscape suppliers to save money. Wade takes large landscape bags to the suppliers and has them filled and then stores them in a less used section of his yard so he will always have rock or pebbles when he needs them. You'll save lots of money if you don't have these materials delivered. Wade used these stones beneath a gutter to hide an erosion issue. "Frequently, that looks good and solves the problem," he says.

Water World

How does Chip Wade's Atlanta yard stay so green and lush? The secret is an extensive irrigation system including an irrigation ring around each tree and in every pot. It costs more on the front end but saves time and money in the long run.

Embrace Color

A blue geometric-printed rug brings a bright, colorful accent to the beige outdoor living space.

Spiral Staircase

Save space and expense too in the garden and unite garden levels with a spiral staircase rather than wooden or stone steps.

Create Garden Vignettes

You don't have to spend a lot of money to create lovely vignettes in the garden with chairs or benches, landscaping and containers.

Buy With a Guarantee

Buy expensive trees and shrubs from a garden center that offers a warranty on plants.

Outdoor Art

Buy inexpensive art for outdoors to add a splash of indoor color.

Backyard Paradise

Thanks to a lot of DIY work and attention to detail, Chip Wade's Atlanta backyard has a naturalistic look that will become even more beautiful as plants and trees mature. Save money by buying smaller plants and enjoy the process of watching them fill out.

Rethink Your Pebbles

Small pebbles are a big landscaping mistake says Wade. They get kicked and easily washed away and go everywhere he warns. Wade also recommends coarse versus slick gravel for landscaping.

Small Trees

A small, pruned Japanese maple is the perfect punctuation to Chip Wade's front yard landscaping. Compact trees are a great choice in both front and back yards.

Shop Related Products

Next Up

A Fixer Upper Bachelor Pad? Get Chip + Jo's Single-Guy Design Tips

See how the dynamic duo mastered a masculine look for this party of one. (Plus, Jo's tips to get the look!)

7 Spring-Cleaning Tips

Check out these ways to make the yearly chore less of a chore.

Easy Floor Cleaning Tips

Keep all types of flooring clean and avoid premature wear with these simple tips.

10 Tips for Growing Lavender

Texas farmer Debbie McDowell shares her expert advice on growing fragrant, flowering lavender in your garden.

Car-Cleaning Tips

12 ways to give your wheels a fresh start.