Gardening is an exciting hobby that requires very little money if you are starting. However, a little resourcefulness and creativity can save you quite a bit. So, how can you cut costs in gardening?
Here are 17 tips on how to save money on gardening:
- Make your seed starter
- Buy seeds instead of seedlings,
- Make DIY mulch,
- Collect Rainwater,
- Repurpose old pieces of stuff at home,
- Grow suitable plants,
- Buy from direct local farmers,
- Make do-it-yourself compost,
- Save seeds from existing plants,
- Propagate/clone existing plants,
- Buy on-sale plants,
- Value your gardening tools,
- Attract beneficial insects,
- Be wise when purchasing plants,
- Make your free pest repellant,
- Make your homemade fertilizer, and
- Repurpose old plant soil.
Growing your garden in a budget-friendly way is possible as several gardening ways will help you save cash on your wallet. Stick around and learn about frugal gardening.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tips On Saving Money In Gardening [15 Hacks!]
- 2 1- Make Your Seed Starter
- 3 2- Buy Seeds Instead Of Seedlings
- 4 3- Make DIY Mulch
- 5 4- Collect Rainwater
- 6 5- Repurpose Old Pieces Of Stuff At Home
- 7 6- Grow Suitable Plants
- 8 7- Buy From Direct Local Farmers
- 9 8- Make Your Compost
- 10 9- Save Seeds From Existing Plants
- 11 10- Propagate/Clone Existing Plants
- 12 11- Buy On Sale Plants
- 13 12- Value Your Gardening Tools
- 14 13- Attract Beneficial Insects, Do NOT Buy!
- 15 14- Be Wise When Purchasing Plants
- 16 15 – Make Your Own Free (And Organic) Pest Repellant
- 17 16 – Make Your Fertilizer
- 18 17 – Repurpose Old Plant Soil
- 19 Takeaways
- 20 Sources
To understand how to save money while gardening, it is essential to understand the sources of expenditure first like:
- Seeds and accessories
- Pesticide or Repellant
Planters, soil, and water are those that many of my friends’ gardeners spend most of their money on. However, I do not! Indeed, with some resourcefulness, and creativity you can cut down costs too!
Here is what I do!
I will be sharing with you some gardening hacks that can save you bucks. Some of them are my first-hand experience, so I am sure you’ll learn from them.
Seed starters are made easily by waste materials available in the majority of houses. These are mainly packing such as:
- Paper/ Plastic cups
- To-go disposable food containers
- Paper towels
- Milk Cartons
Start growing seeds without buying starter pots. A DIY seedling planter made from reusable materials usually destined to the bin is an environment and wallet-friendly solution.
I have observed that most enthusiastic newbie gardeners like to spend much on fancy plastic nursery pots to get their seeds to sprout. But even with just a carton egg tray filled with fertile soil, any small plants will happily grow. Make sure that the egg carton has small holes in the bottom for better drainage.
When the seedlings are mature enough, you can plant the entire egg carton in the ground. Tear open the bottom part of the pot before planting so the roots will make their way easily on the soil.
Not sure? Well, I have a complete guide on growing seeds for you!
Seeds are much cheaper than seedlings. Sometimes, a single plant might cost the same as a packet of hundreds of seeds.
Purchasing a wide range of seedlings to put in your large garden would be too expensive. When you buy a single seedling at the nursery, it will cost you a few dollars. You can get a pack of seeds that will last you for at least two seasons for the same amount.
It would help if you had a lot of patience when sowing your seeds compare to planting an already mature plant. While starter plants can save you a lot of time, seeds can save you money.
Mulching is another method to save money when gardening. The mulch will help retain moisture from the roots, reducing the frequency of watering. It inhibits weed growth that means less expenditure on herbicides. Mulching enriches soil fertility, thus, lesser fertilizer expenses.
Although you can purchase mulch at the garden shops, making your mulch will save you a lot of money. During the fall season, collect dry leaves of trees to use as mulch. Fresh forage cuttings and hays are also suitable for mulching as long as it is free of pests.
You can also get free mulch from furniture shops and ask if they can give you wood chips and shavings. Rice mills have tons of rice hulls that are usually for free.
Rainwater is far more beneficial to plants than tap water. During the dry season, watering can get expensive, especially for vast vegetable beds. Collecting rainwater can lessen tap water usage and reduce water bills.
If you have a small garden, you can collect water by using buckets. However, for large gardens, making low-cost DIY rain barrels saves you a lot of money throughout the season. Be resourceful! Water barrels can be set up in any area of your house near your garden to save your time and effort hauling watering cans and water hoses.
Some governments regulate rainwater collection, and in some cases, it is outright illegal. So, check to see whether you’re breaking any rules before you set up rain barrels and start collecting Rainwater.
Plants grown in a container are best potted in lovely, dainty pots. However, fancy planters cost a lot of money. To avoid spending cash on new planters, make DIY planters through upcycling materials at home.
Upcycling is one of the most cost-effective garden solutions. You can turn your old fixtures at home into functional planters. Junked furniture like bathtubs, drawers, kitchen sink, and old desks can make a unique container for your outdoor succulent arrangements. Old bedsprings or wood pallets can be set up vertically as trellises for your vines and hanging plants.
I usually see old car tires used as large planters for veggies and flowering plants. Soda bottles, buckets, and household product containers can be recycled and made into vertical garden planters. If you have lots of old pieces of furniture stored in your garage, it’s time to let them out and use them.
Another excellent approach to save money on gardening is to grow the appropriate varieties depending on the area’s climate.
Before growing seeds or buying plants, it is essential to know if it is the right time and place to produce them. If you live in regions where water is not readily available, or rain seldom occurs, don’t grow plants that need frequent watering, such as pumpkin, turnips, and lettuce. Likewise, avoid growing sun-loving plants if you live in regions where sunlight is scarce.
I live in a tropical Asian region where the temperature and humidity are relatively high with abundant rainfall. I would not grow french tarragon outdoors as it is challenging to grow in a hot, humid climate. However, oregano and basil grow well in such environmental conditions.
If you grow plants not suitable in your area, you’ll end up wasting money on plants that will die in a month.
When planning to buy plants or vegetables, choose to purchase from local farmers or nearby plant shops. Plants coming from direct farmers are usually sold at lower prices.
Buying directly from farmers eliminates added costs from resellers and shipping fees, giving you a better value for money. Plants from your local area are well adapted and acclimatized to the condition, so there is a higher chance that they will survive.
When you buy from rural farmers, it will make you spend less and give you the pleasure of knowing that you helped your community and the farmers.
Producing homemade compost will only benefit the plants but also the wallet. DIY backyard compost is more effective and nutrient-rich than those sold in garden centers.
Why buy commercial compost from a garden shop when you can start making your own out of organic waste? Kitchen wastes, shredded papers, and organic garden materials can all be added to a compost pile. Incorporate animal dung from vegetarian animals into the pile for better results. Just make sure to allow the mixture to disintegrate completely.
Avoid throwing non-biodegradable objects, disease-infested plants, pastries, feces, oils, and other items in the compost pile. Composting requires a significant amount of time and work, but it saves you a considerable amount of money.
Saving seeds from existing plants in the garden is another cost-effective method to save money while gardening.
It will be costly to buy fresh new seeds every planting season, especially if you have a vast area to plant. Many plants easily reseed themselves, and you should save seeds for the following year as they mature. I have lots of easy-to-seed plants and vegetables such as sunflowers, peppers, and okra that I enjoy planting every year for free!
Seeds harvested from your plants can be stored for later use, traded with your gardener friends and neighbors, or you can even sell it. Harvest only mature and healthy seeds to obtain a high germination rate. Seeds should be kept dry and cool to be viable for the next season.
Growing new plants from the existing ones is a brilliant technique to spend less while gardening. Plants can be cloned or reproduced in so many ways.
Most plants can be propagated from an existing plant. It is sufficient to cut a stem of your plant just above a pair of leaves and stick the stem into the soil after removing the bottom leaves. This works wonders for basil, oregano, mint, and many other herbs. If unsure, check “propagation” by cutting and the name of your plant in google to see if this technique applies.
Almost all perennials can be propagated by cuttings, division, seeding, and offsetting. Branches of shrubs and trees can be cut and grafted or marcotted for propagation. Perennial vines are propagated by cutting the stalk and planting directly into the soil. Propagating plants from cuttings requires a bit of skill and patience, but it can save you from buying new plants.
It is sufficient to cut a stem of your plant just above a pair of leaves and stick the stem into the soil after removing the bottom leaves. This works wonders for basil, oregano, mint, and many other herbs. If unsure, check “propagation” by cutting and the name of your plant in google to see if this technique applies.
Not all perennial plants can be propagated from cuttings. However, some plants develop offshoots that can be separated from the mother plant. Dig up and separate matured nodes. Make sure to separate only those that have roots and actively growing plants.
Local plants shops often have their plants and seeds on sale. Sometimes, the provincial government hosts a plant fair that could be a good source of affordable plants.
A garden shop near me always offers discounted seeds and plants. It has a wide variety of plants, from ornamentals to vegetables. I have availed of their buy one get one cactus clearance sale, and it was fantastic. After six months, both cacti blossomed and produced seeds that I can sow and propagate.
Local governments sometimes organize plant festivals where local nurseries and gardening stores are invited to display and sell their plants. Here you can find great selections at a discounted price.
Tools should be kept dry and away from the weather. Give them value, and it will last for several years.
Give your tools good maintenance so they will last long. Sometimes when you’re too tired after long hours in the garden, you’d just want to leave your tools outside. But just go the extra mile and at least bring them inside.
Tools left outside are prone to rust. Careful handling of your tools will make them last as long as possible. After using your tools, especially the shears, wash them with soap and apply oils suitable for tools to preserve their surface, especially if you’re gonna use them again in the next season.
Before storing your shovel, make sure to get rid of the dirt on their surfaces as it may lead to rust. If necessary, sharpen your shears and knives and keep them away from elements to ensure they last and avoid spending money on new ones. Store them properly in a dry place.
Letting beneficial insects rule the surroundings will reduce the purchase of chemical pest deterrents.
You might have been frustrated with pest invasions such as aphids. They eat greedily on basils, roses, and portulacas, and you’d want to bust them off with costly chemical pesticides. However, a cost-effective way is to eliminate these pesky pests by planting aromatic flowering plants such as sunflower, dill, cosmos, and coneflower.
They attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and other pests predators. Ladybugs, in particular, are notorious for feeding on scales, mealybugs, and aphids. Some garden centers sell beneficial insects inside a screened cage.
Here’s a tip for you! Do not buy beneficial insects such as soldier beetles, ladybugs, and lacewings because you can’t keep them flying just within your garden spot. They will fly away, and it will be a total waste of money. Rather than buying them, attract them by filling the empty spots of your garden with aromatic plant varieties to keep them hovering around your area.
When purchasing plants, don’t just grab anything that catches the eye. Take time to check the plant’s condition before rushing to the cashier.
Here are two tips that helped me over the years when deciding to rehome a plant:
1- Do not buy plants that are small and sickly. You can save some cash, but believe me, you’ll just end up having trouble keeping the tiny struggling plant. It is way better to buy a half-damaged plant than a small one with apparent lesser damage.
2- Check the putting medium and roots of the plant, if possible. You can tell that there is an unpleasant condition going on beneath the plant if you can smell a foul odor and the base of the plant is mushy. If these signs are present, then do not buy the plant as it might have a disease or pests that make the root rot. If the pests are present, you’ll just put your other plants at risk if you happen to buy that plant.
Formulating a DIY organic pest repellant will also save money from buying chemical-based pesticides. Products available at home can be a lifesaver.
Pests cannot be eliminated by synthetic chemicals alone. Do you know that some products you use daily can save you money and protect your plant from pests? Take this, for example, with an Aphid. They cannot handle liquid soaps. Just a solution using liquid dishwasher soap and water is adequate to eliminate the majority of them.
Mixing fresh oregano leaf extract with the soap solution will double its destructive ability. The permethrin in oregano extract is a natural pesticide. Vinegar can be a great ally too. It contains acetic acid that can break and burn pests.
PRO TIP: The key to a successful DIY homemade pest deterrent is persistence. The organic substances mentioned above are less potent than the commercial rival; therefore, multiple re-application is required after few days. But it’s pretty gratifying for me to save a little money and decrease my carbon footprint, hence why you do see me in summer spraying soapy water on roses.
Household organic waste can be recycled and turned into a nutrient-rich homemade fertilizer. Some organic wastes at home includes:
- Banana Peel Tea
- Wood Ash
- Fishtank wastewater
- Coffee grounds
- Compost Tea
- Egg Shell Tea
Plant nourishment and soil boosters do not need to be expensive. The resources mentioned above can help enrich your soil without spending much on commercial fertilizers. Banana peels and eggshells soaked or boiled in water are effective ways of sourcing potassium and calcium for your plant’s nutrition.
If you have fish tanks or bowls at home, set aside the water when you change your tank and use it to water your plants. Fish tank water accumulates several nutrients, but nitrogen is the one that can be extracted in higher quantities from it.
Improve healthy green growth to your lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens by using fish waste as their soil amendments. Fish waste nutrients are beneficial in hydroponic systems.
Another way to save money on gardening is to reuse any old soil from last season. There are several possible ways to repurpose old dirt, such as:
- Adding to the compost pile
- Making garden beds
- Covering ground holes in the garden
- Re-potting plants
You can cut costs in recycling old plant soil, but you need to consider the risk of using used soil.
Often, used soil has depleted nutrients and contains harmful pathogens that can cause your plants to get sick. Reduce the risk by sterilizing the soil under the sun (or even in the oven) before using it with your new plants. Also, remember that the soil might be nutrient-depleted after a season, so do not be afraid to use some organic slow-release fertilizer or replenish old soil with organic fertilizer.
Another great way is to drop such soil in your compost bin. Also, new garden beds for your vegetables and flowers are another great way to repurpose old soil.
1) Frugal gardening can save you a lot of money, especially if you have the ability and skills to make do-it-yourself mulch, compost, and planters.
2) Collecting rainwater will significantly help you lower your water bill while providing healthy and mineral-rich water to your plants.
3) Be wise when maintaining and growing your garden and adopt the above money-saving tips because gardening need not cost you money.
- “Composting,” Joseph Masabni, Texan A&M University
- “Propagating Perennials,” Washington State University
- “Beneficial Insects,” National Pesticide Information Center
- “Pesticide residues as adulteration markers,” Journal of Food Chemistry
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