If you have an affinity for gardening, this is your time of year. Every garden center, home improvement store, and local grocery store is brimming with blooms, ready to transplant to your yard, patio, or balcony. Those with the gardening bug tend to throw the budget out the window in springtime in their rush to stock up on plants, pots, and potting soil.
Because Billshark is always on the lookout for ways to help you save your hard-earned money, we’d like to offer six ways you can have a lush garden for less cash.
If you don’t want to break the budget, first you have to have one. Check your budget to see how much you’re willing or able to spend on gardening supplies. Be sure to factor in the cost of fertilizers and pest control, as well as plants and shrubs.
Whether you have a five-acre spread or a five-foot patio, it’s easy to over-estimate both the space you have available and the time you’ll have to devote to your passion. Before you buy anything, you should also know how much light your garden gets, and which plants do best in your climate area. This can keep you from making expensive mistakes in acquiring plants that won’t survive.
Seek out seeds
While it’s nice to pick up work-free, ready-to-plant market packs, you can save a bundle if you start plants from seed. Many plants, including cosmos, marigolds, zinnias, and various vegetables, pop up perfectly in garden soil within seven to 10 days. A pack of seeds yields around a hundred plants and goes for under two bucks. A market pack of four or six plants can cost up to five dollars.
Tip: Planting from seed is best for annuals, as perennials often don’t flower until the second year.
If you have friends or neighbors who are into gardening, they may have extra plants they’d like to share with you, and vice versa. You can also ask to take cuttings from their plants. Many are ridiculously easy to root, like coleus or geraniums: Just pop into a jar of water until there are enough roots to pot up the plant in soil. Other cuttings may take a bit more work (and a bottle of rooting hormone), but the bottom line is, they’re free.
Garden centers have beautiful but pricey plants. You’ll do better by sticking with Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Home Depot. Smaller, non-chain grocery stores or hardware stores in your area may also have even better prices than the big box stores because they often buy from local farmers.
For pots and gardening utensils, look to the dollar stores, where you can pick up gloves, spades, pruners, and other gardening supplies for much less than you’d spend anywhere else.
Plastic pots and planters are relatively inexpensive, but if you have a lot of container plants, they can add up. And if you move into the more attractive ceramic-type planters, you’re also getting into serious money. So look around your home or to yard sales or Goodwill for anything that can hold water.
Old coffee pots, teacups, plastic-lined baskets, fish bowls, even an old toolbox or wheelbarrow, can serve as charming, unique planters. Just be sure to add a layer of rocks, sand, or packing peanuts on the bottom to allow water to drain away from roots.
The key to gardening on a budget is to restrain your impulse to have an instant garden. With a little thought and planning, you can have a lovely display for much less than the garden centers hope you’ll spend.