We’re knee deep in our patio makeover here at our house, and I have to tell you it’s kind of crazy, but really exciting! We spent the weekend working on landscaping, because really, what’s the point in having a beautiful patio if your backyard just looks like a big old mess.
I think what I was most naive about when we became homeowners was how expensive landscaping could be. Not only are plants more expensive than I realized, but you also need mulch and pots and tools and compost and on and on the list goes. Before you know it your dreams of a beautifully landscaped yard are being replaced with massive dollar signs. This was really discouraging for Phillip and me when we first bought our house, but through a lot of trial and error, we have figured out there is a way to make your landscaping dreams a reality without killing your budget. And so friends we bring you: 13 Ways to Start Gardening on a Budget.
- Get online: one of my go to places for looking for plants and gardening decor at a steal is Craigslist. Just like yard sales, people often advertise plant sales when they have a surplus of plants they need to get rid of. You’ll also see local nurseries advertise on there if they’re having a sale. Keep an eye out for “moving sales” or “liquidation sales”. You can score some serious bang for your buck there! Remember to check regularly to find good deals. If you don’t see anything at first, don’t get discouraged, just keep at it for a few days and you may be surprised at what you find.
- Pay attention to local yard sales/plant sales: again, a lot of these can be found online, but people love to sell plants and gardening tools at yard sales and plant sales. Many areas have yard sale facebook groups you can join too to make searching even easier!
- Chat with friends and neighbors: one of the smartest things I ever did was start talking about my desire to become a better gardener with people I knew. Suddenly people were coming out of the woodwork to share their tips and tricks. It was awesome. But what was even more awesome was when those same friends started bringing me their surplus of perfectly good plants they needed to get rid of. They didn’t have the room for what they had propagated, and because I had shown an interest I was their first call. Free plants, people! All because of a conversation.
- Don’t shy away from younger plants: often times we gravitate towards more mature plants when we’re shopping. They’re fuller, prettier, hardier, etc. The problem is with maturity comes a bigger price tag. But if you’re willing to put in some time, you can save a little money by opting for that same plant’s younger counterpart. And in a few months, you’ll never know the difference.
- Shop around: often times local nurseries have competitive prices compared to big stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Price compare. In our experience too, local nurseries also do a great job catering to your area’s horticultural needs (you like that fancy gardening term I just slid in on you?! Horticultural! See, we’re learning here friends!).
- Ikea: I would never in a million years have thought to buy plants from Ikea, but seriously, they have awesome deals on things like succulents and popular house plants. It had become pretty regular for me to see succulents for around $5 when I was shopping around (not horrible, but still it adds up), but then color me surprised when I’m munching on some Swedish meatballs and find those same succulents for $2! Needless to say, all of my mature succulents have since come from Ikea.
- Propagate your own: I LOVE propagating plants! Now don’t go getting all freaked out, because if you’re like me, propagation sounds like a super advanced gardening term. But it’s not! All it means is you can grow new plants from pre-existing plants. So for example, those succulents I bought from Ikea? Yea, I’m knee deep in propagating almost TEN new succulent plants from the ONE I bought. How cool is that?! That’s ELEVEN succulents for $2 people! Sorry for the “all caps”, but I find that crazy exciting, and I don’t even like math.
It’s not just succulents that do this. If you’ve ever heard of someone growing a plant from a clipping, that’s propagation in action. With a quick google search, you can find out how to properly propagate the plant you want, and you’re on your way. It’s a lot of trial and error, but when it works, you get free plants. Score!
- Grow what you eat: there are a good bit of plants you can grow from leftovers. Weird I know, but things like celery, green onions and lettuce can all regrow from leftovers. Do a quick google search and you’ll be amazed at how many plants can grow from your leftovers. So think before you throw it away.
- Do your homework: I think one of the reasons I really struggled with gardening for so long was because I didn’t want to do the work. I would buy some plants, stick them in the ground, water them and forget about them. Spoiler alert: they always died. Turns out plants don’t like my lazy gardening methods. Essentially I was wasting money (aka: blowing my budget up) by not doing the research. But when I did a little bit of reading on the plants I had, I learned what conditions they needed to thrive. Suddenly I wasn’t wasting my hard earned money on plants that didn’t stand a chance with my
lazybeginner gardening skills. So save yourself money and time and do some homework on the plants you want.
- Don’t waste your money on plants that don’t grow in your area. It’s like throwing money away!: This is part of the homework process, but I’m pointing it out in particular because it’s kind of a big deal. When you enter into the world of gardening you’re going to hear people talking about “zones”. I had no idea what they were talking about. Turns out we’re broken up into zones based on our climates and conditions to help us determine what plants grow best in what region. The National Gardening Association has a great map database that helps you figure out what zone you live in.
Now my problem was I wanted to grow things didn’t grow in my zone. Again, I didn’t do my homework and wasted money. Bottom line: respect your zone, respect your budget.
- Jump on sales: pretty self-explanatory, but keep your ear to the ground for when your local nurseries and home improvement stores have their plant sales. Jump on these! And if you hear the words “moving sale” or “liquidation sale” RUN, don’t walk, to that sale! You will find steals in those situations.
- Farmer’s Markets: these are sometimes hit and miss for me just because I sometimes find farmer’s markets can actually be a bit pricier if I’m not paying attention. But I’ve also scored some really great deals there too. So it could go either way, but it never hurts to look.
- Plant Festivals: check your local events for plant festivals and Earth Day festivals. We have one here locally that happens every year where you can get some really great plants for really great prices. Also, you can score things like free mulch and other gardening necessities for great prices!
Learning to garden on a budget has been a definite adventure of experimentation, but it has been so exciting to see our hard work begin to pay off. And Phillip and I have only started to scratch the surface! Gardening doesn’t have to be the big money pit it can be if you’re not careful. All you need is a little bit of homework and a good bit of patience, and you’ll be well on your way to your affordable landscaping dreams.
Any seasoned gardeners have any tips and tricks they’d be willing to share? What are your favorite ways to save money on gardening? I’d love to hear about them!