Having beautiful flower beds doesn't have to be just a dream. I have found many frugal ways to fill my gardens with perennials, bushes, and trees.
Swapping: Everyone has something they are eventually going to divide in the garden to keep them neat and tidy. Contact all of your friends and inquire if they would like to swap some of your perennials that you have divided for something in their garden. Make sure anything you bring home is put in the ground immediately, along with some compost material, water, and fertilizer.
Contact your local Gardening Club: Your local club can be a wealth of information and valuable resources! Usually they are working with native plants and flowers and could give you expert advice and also lead you to great plant resources available at a much better price.
Your Local Dump: Amazing but true...people throw away some of the nicest plants into the compost heap at the dump. A little loving care for a week or less could show great improvement and soon you will be looking for a home in your garden for them. Grab some compost while you are there, it's normally free!
FreeCycle.Org: Place a want ad for perennials, bushes... anything, in FreeCycle.org. So many people thin their bushes or divide their perennials and this could be a wonderful place to find interesting plants to add to your garden. Ask if anyone is willing to give you cuttings to root or new shoots from bushes so you can give them some tending for your own home gardens.
Supermarkets: I like to check out behind big supermarkets as usually once a week they take all of the plants that are drying out and limp and throw them away. Usually you will find them in a heap somewhere out back. I also ask the store manager if I can help myself when they decide to throw away large amounts of plants. Most do not care if you would like them, especially if you are a customer.
Local Wildflowers: One of my favorite hobbies is to take walks looking for wonderful native flowers that I can use in my bare spots or in areas of the yard that need fillers. Each state has dozens and dozens of the most gorgeous and underappreciated flowers. The only thing you want to do is find out how evasive they are. Some you may want to plant in places you do not mind the spreading. Most are just perfect in any garden for a natural wildflower addition.
Seed Swapping: In the winter I like to do seed swaps with friends and family. Everyone has leftover seeds they did not use the year before and you may have some also. It's a great chance to try your hand in the spring at starting some new varieties. All you need is a place in the sun somewhere in your home to start in early spring!
Editor's Note: If there are laws against it in your area, do not do it. Also digging of native plants may be prohibited. Be sure to check your local laws. If you know the owner of the property always ask before picking or digging anything.
In the UK its illegal to pick wild flowers let alone dig them up - so may people used to do so we have lost many native species. As for taking plants from empty or abandoned properties - that would be called stealing here!
And in parts of Canada too. On most public land you are expected to take only pictures. Leave only footprints.
I agree wholeheartedly with the other 2 responses! DON'T STEAL wildflowers or plants from ANYWHERE! What if everyone stole plants from forests and public lands? You should try to leave as tiny a footprint as possible; NOT steal whatever you can get your hands on.
You also must be careful to ask BEFORE taking anything from a store's property. Many do NOT want customers rooting around in their dumpsters, etc. They would rather have you purchase the good plants they have for sale and not make a mess behind the store. You could be prosecuted even if it is technically in the garbage.
I add 2 positive tips:
1. Be sure to look at and identify what you have BEFORE pulling plants as a weed. It may be a pretty wildflower if left to grow so look up the plant before you pull out and throw into the compost heap. If you can't identify it online; try leaving one to grow and see what it becomes.
I've relocated a number of plants to dedicated garden areas. What once looked like a mess is now a pretty patch of Forget Me Nots, RoseRoot, wild geraniums, etc.
It's a GREAT way to diversify your garden and you already know the plants will grow well in your yard's conditions.
2. Look for end of season clearance sales. You can plant just as well in the fall. I often find plants at 75% off or more at the end of the summer. Just plant them and water as usual (don't fertilize until spring as it may fry the root system) and mulch well for the winter.
Share plants with friends, shop sales, look at public compost heaps but NEVER steal plants from any lands public or private!
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