Frugal Gardening

How to Save Money Gardening

Senior Man Working In Garden
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It's easy to get carried away planting a garden. Even after you've bought all the necessary tools and supplies, there are always more plants to cover and new gadgets to try. But that doesn't mean your garden has to turn into a sink hole for your money. Some of the best gardening tips don't cost a cent and some will help you save money for years. Here are 10 no-pain ways to save money and resources while gardening and still have the garden of your dreams.

  • 01 of 10

    Start Your Plants from Seed

    The price of a packet of seed keeps going up, but so does the price of plants. Seeds are still a great deal. Since you usually get more than you can use, why not set up a seed exchange with your gardening friends. Growing perennial flowers from seed take some patience because it will be a few years before the plants are sizable and flowering. But you can grow dozens of annual flowers for a fraction of what you’d pay for cell packs. And the savings from growing vegetables from seed will literally pay for the rest of your garden.

  • 02 of 10

    Make More Plants: Collect Seed, Take Cuttings, Make Divisions

    Take seed starting a step further and become a seed saver. Only open pollinated plants will grow true from seed. Heirlooms and old-fashioned flowers are good candidates. You can also multiply your plants by taking and rooting cuttings and by dividing perennials. There’s no law that says you have to wait until a perennial “needs” dividing before you can divide it. Divided younger plants may start out small, but they will catch up fast.

  • 03 of 10

    Start With Smaller Plants

    Plants are priced by size. It’s nice to have an instant garden, but if you’re trying to save money, buying smaller size plants can cut your bill by two thirds. And small plants can often make the transplant adjustment easier than larger plants, so they will quickly fill in. Another option is to buy one large plant and divide it immediately into two or three smaller plants.

  • 04 of 10

    Host a Plant Swap

    Host a plant swap with your gardening friends. Everyone has too much of something. While you’re dividing and redesigning in the spring, have everyone pot up some extras to exchange. It’s nice to have a tag with the plant’s name, color, and growing preferences. It’s also fun to have each gardener show and tell a little about the plants they brought. This is a wonderful way to grow some memories in your garden.

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  • 05 of 10

    Pull Your Resources and Buy in Bulk

    Bulk purchasing always cuts costs. Bulbs, in particular, are a real bargain when you buy large quantities. But who really needs 1,000 daffodils? Get 5-10 friends and you’ll still have a large swath of daffodils in your yard, at a fraction of the cost.

    You can also go in with a friend or two to buy an extra large plant, then divide it so that you each get a piece. This is a clever way to get pricey, unusual plants at a bargain price.

    Bulk buying is also great for things like mulch, fertilizer and plant stakes.

  • 06 of 10

    Make Compost Happen

    This is such an obvious money saver, it shouldn’t need to be mentioned. But it’s amazing how many gardeners let their garden clean-up go to waste. Even if you don’t have the enthusiasm to do more than piling it all in a corner of the yard, you will eventually have compost. Ditto those leaves you push to the curb in the fall.

    Dried leaves make a wonderful compost in as little as a season. Half-rotted leaves are called “leaf mulch” and there is nothing like a layer of leaf mulch on your garden to attract earthworms and all kinds of beneficial insects and organism. That’s what nature does in the forest. And it’s much cheaper than bark mulch. Heck, it’s free.

  • 07 of 10

    Recycling and Salvage

    We throw away a lot of things that could serve a purpose in the garden. Newspapers make great weed barriers. Shredded newspaper is even good at the bottom of containers, to help retain moisture.

    Bottles of all sorts can be used to protect seedlings in cool springs. Yogurt containers are great for starting seeds. The cardboard rolls from paper towels and toilet paper can be used as cutworm collars.

    And if you have a good salvage yard near you, it’s a great place to look for cages, stakes and unusual supports for climbing plants. You may even find some interesting containers.

  • 08 of 10

    Collect or Re-Direct Water

    Water is one of those gardening expenses we don’t really notice until the bill comes. Yet a garden can go without water for long. A rain barrel has got to be one of the easiest garden tools to use. You insert your drainpipe into the hole in the barrel and wait for rain. They’re making it even more tempting these days with some very attractive rain barrels designed to complement different house styles and materials.

    Re-directing your faucet or washer isn’t just a money-saver, it’s a water saver. This is such a no-brainer in drought-prone areas. It takes a little work and you’ll probably want to call in a professional, but the savings are long term.

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  • 09 of 10

    Install Drip Irrigation

    Yes, this is a money saver. There are a lot of little pieces and it looks very complicated and expensive, but I promise you it is neither. All those pieces just snap together as you walk down your garden and lay it out. Even drip irrigation that is programmed to go on several times a day will use less water and money than a good soaking with a hose. Less water is lost to evaporation and less water is needed because it is going straight to the roots on a regular basis.

  • 10 of 10

    Yard Sales

    Antique prices have gone through the roof, but yard sales are still a great place to look for bargains. When someone finally gets around to cleaning out their garage, tools, buckets, netting, pots, gloves and all sorts of things they’d forgotten they had because they’d long since stopped gardening are trotted out to the tables on the driveway. No one wants to drag it all back in, so prices are good and often negotiable. Or maybe you’re the one who should be having the yard sale. How many pruners do you need, anyway? Have a yard sale and designate the proceeds to your garden.