Having a beautiful garden doesn’t have to require mega bucks. There are plenty of ways to slash gardening costs while still creating an outdoor showcase that will be the envy of family and friends. In fact, gardening on a budget may be even more satisfying than gardening without a budget, so follow these cheap gardening tips with pride.
Harvest seeds in the fall for the next year’s spring. Harvested seeds not only will give you a head start on your spring garden, but can be valuable “currency” to trade with other gardeners for plants or seeds. They also make useful and appreciated gifts for friends and relatives who are gardeners.
Start plants from seed. Starting plants from seeds is not just a frugal way to stock your garden, but can be fun, very satisfying and, if you start seedlings indoors before the weather turns, a welcome harbinger of spring.
Join a local garden club. Not only is joining a garden club a great way to meet other gardeners in your area, but it can be a terrific resource for free plants. Many garden clubs have exchanges where members can trade seeds, cuttings and plants from their gardens with others. If your local garden club doesn’t have an exchange, start one, or simply make one-to-one deals directly with other members.
Get free plants from local garden centers. If you are not shy about asking, you may be surprised to find that local garden centers will let you have discarded plants and cuttings for free. This process can be time consuming, since you may have to call many nurseries before you find one that will work with you, but the effort could pay off in a big way.
Contact local landscaping firms. Scope out commercial and government buildings in your area that replace their landscape plants every few months, find out who does this work and ask them what happens to the plants. If the plants are going to be discarded, you may be able to get them for free or for a small charge.
Price shop for garden supplies. Dollar stores and discounters can be great sources of both practical and decorative garden supplies, and, of course, shop the sales for even better prices.
Spend today to save tomorrow. While some garden supplies can safely be purchased at discount stores, in other cases, spending more for quality will pay off in the long run. For example, the investment in a few well-made, high-quality tools that will last for years can be well worth the money.
Practice target watering. You can save a bundle (and burnish your natural resources conservation credentials) by using drip irrigation to water some trees and shrubs. Also, mulching around plants will reduce water evaporation and help to keep them well hydrated.
Purchase a water barrel. Place a water barrel under a drain spout to gather rain water for use in the garden and to water potted plants.
Save on fertilizer (and protect the environment) by composting kitchen and yard waste. Check out http://compostguide.com for information on why using compost is a great frugal gardening strategy and for tips on how to make your own compost.
Take advantage of pre-season sales and early-order discounts. Get on mailing lists for gardening catalogs. Not only can leafing through catalogs be an enjoyable activity on a snowy winter afternoon, but you may be able to score some great deals for preordering bulbs and plants.
Get municipal mulch. Some municipalities turn Christmas trees and other yard materials into mulch and then make it available to residents for free or at only a modest cost. You probably will have to pick it up yourself. Find out if your local municipality has such a program. If not, suggest that it start one.
Lili Pintea-Reid, www.bellaonline.com, Cheap Gardening – Frugal Living
www.frugalgardening.com, Frugal Gardening – Landscape Firms for Free Garden Plants
Dean Fosdick, www.houmatoday.com, tips to make gardening cheaper in lean times/HoumaToday.com