How do you create the low-cost garden of your dreams? With a little bit of creativity, planning and the help of some local resources, you can grow and maintain a stunning garden in no time.
Starting a Garden on a Budget
1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
We’ve all heard people encouraging us to practice the three Rs. This spring embrace that mantra as you build your budget garden.
For example, you can reuse old flower pots, hanging baskets and even leftover potting soil (if you store it correctly, it will be ready to use year after year). Check out local estate sales to pick up garden tools at a fraction of the retail price. You can even collect rainwater to help water your plants — the ultimate in natural recycling!
Reduce packaging waste and repeat purchases by investing in anchor perennials. Unlike annuals that need to be replaced each year, perennials bloom year after year, making your initial investment grow along with your garden. Purchase budget-friendly annual flowers to make your garden pop with color and texture.
2. Winter dreaming
When the snow is piling up outside, the last thing on your mind is your spring garden. However, winter is the perfect time to get a jump-start on ordering produce and flower seeds. Many online seed retailers offer frequent sales in the offseason at great prices.
Garden shopping on the early side also ensures you get what you need — before the most popular seed blends sell out in early spring. Join email lists for local nurseries and online retailers to make sure you’re getting sale notifications. In many cases, you’ll also get free shipping.
3. Tap into your DIY skills
You can replicate those gorgeous — and pricey — hanging baskets seen at your local nursery with minimal do-it-yourself (DIY) effort. There are many step-by-step tutorials available, but the key is planning ahead.
Save your hanging baskets from year to year, rinsing them at the end of the season and storing them in a cool, dry place so they’ll be ready to go once the spring season has arrived. Layer your baskets with potting soil and flower starts, place them in the sun and water daily. Within a few weeks, your hanging basket will rival an expensive nursery arrangement — but for a fraction of the cost.
4. Keep an eye out for free plants
The only thing better than expanding your garden is growing it for free. Be on the lookout for Facebook marketplace postings, local plant-swapping clubs, gardening forums and even neighbors who might be looking to divide and give away fast-growing plants like hostas. Websites like PlantSwap.org also make it easy to connect with other local plant-lovers to share tips and find free plant donations.
5. Start a vegetable garden
There’s nothing better than having access to fresh vegetables in your own backyard. Get the best bang for your budget garden by planting vegetables in late winter that will grow all summer long.
Tomatoes, bell peppers, summer squash, beans and leaf lettuce are all cost-effective vegetable garden options. Growing your own food is also a great way to stay on a budget and eat healthily.
6. Propagate your plants
If you’re an annual buyer of certain plants and flowers, try propagating this season’s bounty by taking cuttings. For example, geraniums are easy to grow year-round with a little bit of patience.
When your geraniums are in bloom, take cuttings, add a rooting hormone to promote new growth and carefully plant the cuttings in potting soil. Depending upon your climate, you might want to cover the plant in plastic wrap or a large plastic bag to keep the environment warm and humid.
Propagating can be done with flowers, bushes or trees. You can multiply your yard’s landscape at a fraction of the cost of buying new — with the added satisfaction that you are growing your green thumb as well.
7. Sprinkle in some herbs
Nothing says summertime quite like snipping away in your herb garden while you’re cooking dinner. Instead of picking up a pricey container of basil or parsley when you’re at the store, reach for an inexpensive basil or parsley plant — typically in your grocery store’s produce section — to kickstart your herb garden.
Whether you live on acres of land or a high-rise apartment building with a sunny window, growing herbs is an easy and enjoyable summertime task. If you’d prefer to start from scratch, basil, parsley, rosemary, cilantro and mint seeds are inexpensive and typically yield plentiful results within just a few weeks. There are also many tasty summertime recipes to highlight your freshly grown herb flavors — bon appetit!
A low-cost garden is a thing of beauty
Creating a beautiful, bountiful garden doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep these tips in mind as you start a garden that brings you joy, sustenance and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your labor grow.