Let’s discuss something that is certainly top of mind these days- saving money! Though sometimes thought of a way to save money on groceries, gardening can be an expensive hobby. Gardening on a budget is pretty tough. There are so many different factors in taking good care of your garden that it can be difficult to assess all the costs and budget accordingly. So to help, we’ve put together our top tips to save money in the garden. reference this handy list any time you find yourself wondering “there HAS to be a way to spend less than this!
How to save on plants
Plants are probably the first thing that come to mind when thinking of garden costs because they’re the most visible part of the garden, and kind of the whole point! But if you’re like me, you spend way too much money on impulse purchases in the garden center. Gardening on a budget requires bit more planning on plant purchases, but it can have a big impact on your total spending. Check out these tips below.
1. Start small
This will help save on everything, not just plants. And it’s an important tip if you’re just starting out. The larger your garden, the more those costs multiply. So start with a small garden on a good budget to get the hang of what to expect to spend. For example, consider starting with a few containers before jumping into raised bed gardening or re-landscaping your whole yard.
2. Start from seeds
It’s very difficult to save money while buying established transplants to plant into your garden. Ordering seeds from a reputable supplier is a great way to save on your garden plants. And starting your own seeds is easier than you may think.
3. Buy transplants from nurseries and plant sales.
If you do decide to purchase transplants, skip the higher priced transplants at big-box stores and garden centers. Instead, check the prices at your local nurseries and keep an eye out for plant sales from college programs or Master Gardeners sales. Your local cooperative extension service can usually help you find these options.
4. Save your plants for next year
Some plants that you may typically grow as an annual can actually be used year after year, if you know how to do it. Peppers are a great example. Most gardeners grow their peppers as annuals and then start new plants the following year. But, you can actually save the plant to grow year after year! You basically just prune the plant down and let it stay dormant, then let it spring back to life the following growing season. Here’s a tutorial on how to do it.
Of course, a similar concept applies with bulbs like tulips or your ranunculus corms. Instead of buying them each year, put a bit of extra work in and you can save them to plant for the next spring. I’ve seen some gardeners say they leave their ranunculus corms in the ground and replant new ones each year, considering any surviving from the past year a lucky bonus. I however, opt to store them in vermiculite then sift them out as seen below to plant in late winter. It has saved me a ton of money, and I have way more flowers than I ever would’ve wanted to pay for.
5. Grow from food scraps
You’d be amazed how many of your vegetables can be brought back to life in the garden. Most salad greens will simply regrow right from the base of the plant. Celery is another one. Most plants with leaves will regrow their greens as long as the base where roots grow is still attached. Check this list for more ideas!
How to save money on seeds
Seeds are always cheaper than transplants, but there are still lots of ways to further cut costs!
6. Save seeds from your garden
This one should be a no-brainer! You already have all the seeds you need growing right in your garden. Don’t let them go to waste. Instead, as you harvest and use your flowers or vegetables, set some seeds aside for next year. There is a slightly different method for some seeds versus others, but in general it’s pretty easy! We have a post that covers the basics here.
7. Keep an eye out for seed sales
Just like holiday decorations, if you wait for the right time you can get some crazy deals on seeds. Gardening on a budget requires some patience, but generally right toward the end of planting season you’ll see lots of seed sales pop up. It may be too late to plant them right away, but they should last until the following year.
8. Trade seeds with friends and neighbors
If you save your seeds, you know you have at least some of what you already want to grow. But, what if you want to try something new? That’s where your gardening friends come in! Talk to them and see if they’d be willing to trade or simply share some of their seeds with you.
How to save on soil and mulch
Next up, soil is probably not the first thing you think of spending money on if you’re just getting into gardening. There’s dirt everywhere after all, right? If you’ve been doing it a while, though, you know it can be quite expensive. Not only do flower beds, landscaping, containers, and raised beds need high quality soil to get started, but they will also require additional soil down the line.
9. Raised bed gardening on a budget
Filling raised beds can get crazy expensive. This is often the most expensive part of setting up a new garden. Instead of filling the whole volume of each box with expensive raised bed soil, save money by packing the bottom full of sticks, newspaper, grass clippings, or any other biodegradable waste you have available (more kitchen scraps!) Check out this article here for a guide on how to do this.
10. Use your yard waste
Even after filling those raised beds, your yard waste can continue to come in handy! Different things are great for different purposes, but most yard waste can be put to use as mulch in one way or another. For example, A thick layer of raked leaves will provide insulation in the fall, and slowly break down into nutrients as spring approaches. Grass clippings, on the other hand can be spread throughout the garden all summer as a light mulch that will break down more quickly. There’s simply no reason for any of that to go to a landfill.
11. Check your local municipality
Use other people’s yard waste, too! Many communities have recycling programs where you can use yard waste from other homes in the local area. This prevents waste and provides you with free garden materials.
12. Split bulk loads with a neighbor
If you need to get lots of soil, ordering in bulk from a landscape supplier is a much better deal than buying bags from a hardware store. If the source you find requires you to hit a minimum amount, try splitting a load with a friend or neighbor.
13. Talk to a tree service
Any time you see a tree getting cut down, it’s likely about to get mulched. And often times, you can simply take this mulch if you just ask. Simply pull over and talk to someone involved, or call local tree services and ask if they have any mulch available.
How to save on soil amendments
So your garden has plenty of soil ready to go… but have you thought about replenishing the nutrients and the improving the soil structure? Yep, these are things you’ll need to consider each season while gardening on a budget. Inputs like store bought compost and fertilizer can be pricey, but there are plenty of options that are less costly if not free.
Gardening on a budget means there should be no waste, so put those kitchen scraps to use! As I mentioned above, lots can be regrown. But if they can’t re-grow, use your scraps fertilize your garden by composting them and adding the compost to your soil. It may be hard to generate enough compost to amend your soil each time it’s necessary, but it will at least cut down on the amount you need to buy.
15. DIY Fertilizer
We’re staying on the topic of kitchen scraps for a minute. It’s tough to spend money on fertilizer while gardening on a budget, but many common kitchen scraps can come to the rescue. Some are particularly rich in useful nutrients for your garden and make for a great diy fertilizer. Lots of common kitchen waste products are actually great at targeting specific mineral and nutrient deficiencies in your soil. For example, eggshells make a great calcium amendment, coffee grounds are super high in nitrogen, and banana peels pack tons of potassium.
16. Source from local businesses
The easiest way to source fertilizer or compost material from local businesses has got to be with coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are actually a fantastic fertilizer- even higher in nitrogen than most manure. Lots of local coffee shops and even many Starbucks locations have programs to allow local home owners to take used grounds for their garden. My closest Starbucks leaves bags of grounds in a container by the door with a sign that says “grounds for you garden,” but if yours does not have that, simply ask if it is something they do.
Gardening on a budget- pest control
Pests can be really difficult to control, and an out-of-hand pest problem can require lots of different sprays or traps to solve it. Attracting the right predators is key, though it will take time. But don’t worry, there are plenty of quick diy solutions as well.
17. Attract beneficial insects and birds
This tip is so important. Not only does it save you money, but it’s good for the environment! If you take a few steps to make your garden an attractive place for an abundance of beneficial insects, they will do the work for you! Some ways to do this include creating a water source for insects, planting flowers they love, and providing shelter for them. Here’s a post to go into more detail.
Beneficial insects come up a whole lot more than birds in the sustainable pest control conversation, but birds do a lot of pest control too! In fact, if you deal with the dreaded japanese beetle, you may want to know that birds are extremely important in controlling them. Read up on birds’ role in pest control here.
18. DIY pest sprays
You can DIY your own pest sprays for lots of different garden pests. Check out this list for some good examples as well as preventative tips and tricks.
How to save on weed killers
Weeds are a pain. Especially if you end up paying for harmful chemicals to apply in your garden. Luckily, there are DIY and preventative solutions that can both save you money and protect your health.
19. Suppress weeds
Don’t give weeds a fighting a chance- get established ground cover in place. The competition from a healthy plant taking up the soil’s nutrients and blocking the sun should help to prevent weeds from thriving and spreading. To do so, begin with mulch to suppress weeds before they can sprout. Next, pick a good ground cover plant that will spread quickly (stay away from invasive species, though).
20. DIY weed killer
Stay away from that store bought weed killer. Save your money and your environment by making your own! We have a whole post on diy, natural weed killer recipes that you can easily make and put to use in your garden or yard. Using a natural, non-toxic alternative will help with the above points about promoting beneficial insects and birds, too.
How to tackle diseases while gardening on a budget
The best way to save money on controlling and treating diseases in the garden is to prevent them from happening. However, diseases are inevitable, so here are some ways to tackle them without spending lots of money on sprays and treatments.
21. DIY mildew spray
Powdery mildew and downey mildew are some the most commonly faced garden diseases. Luckily, there are easy diy solutions to control them using materials you probably already have at home, like milk!
22. How to prevent garden diseases
Of course, as mentioned above, preventing diseases in the first place is key. There are many simple ways to do this. Water the base of plants instead of from above, space plants well, and provide good drainage in your garden beds. Another tip- cinnamon has anti fungal properties! It is particularly helpful in small containers that have stayed soggy for too long.
Good luck and happy gardening!
I truly hope these tips and tricks help you out in the garden this growing season! While prices of lots of inputs have increased recently, these money saving tips should help a little extra. If these DIY solutions and preventative tips are your favorite, you should also check out our posts on DIY Natural Weed Killers, DIY Frost Tunnels for your Raised Beds, and DIY Self Watering Ideas.
Wow Remi, this post is just full of great gardening info. I will take my time to read it all carefully. I will keep coming back to it to discover more. Thanks!
Hi Janelle, I’m so happy you enjoyed the post. I hope these tips help you to save some money in the garden this season! Make sure you sign up for the newsletter for more tips if you’re not subscribed already!