Much to my husband's chagrin, I watch a lot of HGTV. In his eyes, this equates to more work for him.

Much to my husband's chagrin, I watch a lot of HGTV. In his eyes, this equates to more work for him.

I can't help it. All those shows make every project seem attainable and they all look like something our house or garden needs, too.

I particularly like the show "Biggest Bang for Your Buck" or whatever the title is. This is the show where three different couples have completed a huge (insert project here: kitchen, backyard, master bedroom) home improvement project, spent mega bucks -- and are still married! The show's hosts then get to decide who got the most "bang for their buck."

I like this show a lot because I can live vicariously through these people's lives (and checkbook) and imagine what my house/garden would look like if I had an endless supply of money to throw at a project of that magnitude.

Lucky for me I don't have a big pile of money to put toward a gigantic home improvement project. Wait! Did I say lucky? Yes, I did.

Most of us are living in a reality where we work to pay the bills and hope there's money left over to make our lives more enjoyable. I'm lucky a bright pot of sunny yellow Gerbera daisies makes me happy when I pull into the driveway.

I'm also lucky I live in Ohio where, after the kind of snowy winter we had this year, we are able to move outdoors for half the year and truly appreciate the garden. After being cooped up all winter, I feel like the square footage of our house doubles when we start digging in the garden and relaxing on the patio.

Here are a few tips on how you can get the most "bang for your buck" to improve your outdoor living space:

Put the right plant in the right place. Even though you dearly love azaleas, if you don't have a shady spot or you don't give them acidic soil, you cannot be successful with this plant. Know where the sun hits (or doesn't), know if your soil is marshy or dry. Also, read the tag of the plant before you purchase it. How tall does it get? How big around does it get? What type of sunlight does it require?

Fertilize your plants. Yes, this costs extra money, but with Ohio's clay soil, you cannot count on your plants to find what they need on their own. There are tons of different types -- water-soluable, granular, slow release. Something is better than nothing.

Give your plants breathing room. Just as humans tend to spread germs faster in a crowded room in the winter, your plants can share fungus, mold and diseases more readily if they are packed in too tightly.

Mulch. It may not seem like it now but we all know it gets hot in Ohio in the summer. Your plants especially know this when their roots are not quite deep enough to find their own water source. Mulching after the ground warms up (usually early June) helps retain much needed moisture. Please use a type of mulch like hardwood that will break down over time and give extra nutrients to your soil. You may have to reapply every year or so, but your plants will thank you for the extra feeding.

Finally, enjoy your garden. It's not worth a penny if you don't have a spot to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Just remember, you don't need to spend a fortune or a ton of time to get the most for your buck.

Now if I can just convince my husband an outdoor fire pit area won't take up much of his time ...

Bee Fisher Kocher, and her very handy husband, Brian, own and run Fisher's Gardens in Olde Reynoldsburg.