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Saving Money on Gardening

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Gardening does not have to be too expensive to enjoy. This is a guide about saving money on gardening.


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By 4 found this helpful
January 15, 2009

Have a green thumb and a tight budget? I have found that if I go to garden centers in the big box home improvement stores on the day after their vendors go through the plants, I can find some real bargains. I have bought some puny plants that were in planters which cost more than the plant was reduced to!


Generally all the plants need is a little water and some TLC. I bring them home, put them in a shady spot, and keep them well-watered for several days before planting them out.

The stores usually have them on rolling carts toward the back of the garden section. If you don't see them, ask someone. The folks in the garden center are happy to show you to help get them out of there.

Don't be afraid to ask if they will reduce something that is less than vibrant. A little clipping, plant fertilizer and watering can revive most annuals which are droopy. I have been doing this for several years and have lost very few plants. At the price I got them for, that didn't amount to much money.

By Sandy from Elon, NC

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August 14, 2008

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 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!


By Pattie

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.

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By 1 found this helpful
January 20, 2013

I have a large yard with a lot of trees that requires a lot of work. I am always having to pick up limbs, spread mulch, etc. Then I came up with the idea to use my 30 gallon large garbage can on wheels that I had purchased from a discount store. I can roll it like a wheelbarrow or pull it. It holds more. It has a lid and a handle on the side that is easy to pull or push around the yard.

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April 5, 20070 found this helpful

Here are some money saving tips on gardening equipment and supplies from the ThriftyFun community. Post your own here.

Tools & Other Supplies

I have two answers: the first is for cheap gardening. I always buy supplies and equipment after the growing season! Late fall is the best time to buy all supplies for next season. Check your local home store for clearance items. I also share with a neighbor. She uses my equipment and vice versa.

By Lisa

Flea Markets

Flea markets are good places to scour for used garden equipment. These are especially fun in August and September during small town harvest festivals. You can find piles of old farm and garden tools and other useful tidbits that even if a bit rusty, can be resurrected into service with a bit of oil and elbow grease. Also scout out estate sales and yard sales. If you need to use larger tools, like a roto-tiller or trimmer, consider renting them for a day or a weekend and splitting the cost with a friend or neighbor. Good tool maintenance practices will extend their life.

Yard Sales

When I moved into my first house, I didn't have any garden supplies at all. Since we had just closed, and money was tight (isn't it always) I went to yard sales looking for anything I could come across. I found lots of stuff, including a shovel, a pick, a pole saw, an axe, and others. The pole saw was $10, but still a good deal (I got it at a flea market). The other stuff was $1 or $2. I also recall seeing spreaders (the kind you use to fertilize the lawn) for around $5.

The trick is that you have to go real early on the first day of the sale. There were a couple of places that had yard tools advertised, but by the time we got there, they were already gone.


Compost, Tools and Seeds

One thing you can do is have a compost pile. This makes good fertilizer, and really does enrich the soil. They have commercial bins you can buy, or, for a small pile just find a spot in the backyard. They are stinky, so be prepared for that.

Cheepie small garden tools, hand trowels etc., work just about as well and for as long as their more expensive counterparts. You can pick them up at the grocery or drug store for about a dollar each.

If you are planting seeds, there are opportunities for seeds from freebie sites on the web. There are hundreds of freebie sites, and most have ads for others. There are lots of free things available.


Multi Use Tools, Plant Swaps And Other Ideas

When I buy tools I try to buy one that will have multiple uses. For example, I don't use a spray bottle that contained fungicide for misting so I have to buy 2 spray bottles. But instead of buying a typical spade, I bought a shovel with a 12" long skinny blade, slightly rounded on the tip. It works great for general digging, edge, and post hole digging, like for my mailbox.

Also, instead of buying replacement wood edging (flat on 2 sides, round on 2 sides, goes around flower beds) I will be taking an old edging post and make a mold in sand. Then I will make smaller edging pieces from cement. They will last much longer than treated wood. But they have to be made smaller, like 12" segments, because they are heavier.

Also, I did not buy a pair of small pruners, because large pruners can be used for large and small jobs. But I did buy a pair of large pruners which can be sharpened by myself easily.

We also have a local plant swap twice a year. Everyone brings plants to swap. If you want to take 4 plants, then you bring 4 of your own to swap. Every 5 minutes the coordinator announces it's time to pick 1 plant. We all go around and pick one plant we like. When everyone has their plant, we take another turn.

There are always lots of plants left over that people just wanted to get rid of, so those are just freebies you can take. We also have lunch before the swap so people can browse what is there and what they want to pick first. This group has a Yahoo email group where you can request people to bring certain plants you like and they will just give it to you at the swap. They are very nice!

I also save clear plastic bottles to be used as sun hats outside in the spring when the weather is a little cool. I can also use them to start seeds. I cut the top but not all the way off. I leave a little plastic to make a hinge and a little greenhouse. Then I put in dirt and seeds and keep it moist. A little 10:1 water:hydrogen peroxide solution keeps mold from growing.

By Bulrush

Seeds, Forums, Recycling, Composting and More...

The easiest and most inexpensive way to acquire seeds, plants and shrubs for your garden is to swap with fellow gardeners. If you're just getting started with gardening, consider offering to trade recipes, home-made baked goods, craft items or services like weeding, dog walking or baby-sitting, in exchange for garden goodies.

Another great option is online garden forums. Many gardeners have extra seeds that they are willing to share. Again, if you're just starting out and you don't have anything to offer in exchange, offer to pay the postage. Send a pre-paid envelope and enclose you're favorite recipe as a gesture of thanks.

Many odds and ends around the house can be recycled into useful implements for the garden. For example, nylon stockings can be used to secure bending plants, to store spring bulbs or slipped over ripening tomatoes to prevent chipmunk damage. Broken blind slats make great plant markers. Plastic cat litter containers can be cut in half and used as growing containers or seedling cages. Store seeds in glass jars, plastic food container with lids or paper bags. Before you toss things out, try to think of ways to use them in the garden.

Organic weed and pest control is cheaper for you and better for the environment. There are hundreds of books and websites (including this one) offering recipes and tips for controlling weeds and pests using common products that most of keep around the house.

Start composting-indoors or out. Nothing is better for your plants and your throwing out the waste anyway.

By Ellen Brown

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By 0 found this helpful
April 20, 2009

I'm frugal, but do afford myself the "luxury" of buying the small plants for my backyard raised garden and flower beds. Today I decided to get started with the planting and stopped to by a few plants from a mom and pop's roadside stand not far from home.

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February 6, 20091 found this helpful

Spring is right around the corner. Here are some tips for saving money on gardening. Post your own ideas here.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 16, 2009

We're encouraged to use raised garden beds for our veggies here. Aside from our incredible compost bin, Chris wanted to mix Black Cow with the soil he'd bought. He chafed at the price specially after deciding he needed one more bag.

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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh0 found this helpful
May 17, 2007

Spring gardening can sometimes add up to quite a chunk of cash. Instead of burying your money in the soil, plant some of these seeds and grow some savings.

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April 28, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about save money shopping end-of-season plant sales. One easy way to save money on plants it to shop at the end of the season.

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September 25, 20130 found this helpful

This guide is about saving money on seeds. End of the season and discount stores seed packs, as well as, seed exchanges can reduce the cost of planting your flower and vegetable gardens.

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July 2, 20130 found this helpful

This guide is about starting a garden on a budget. With some work there are many ways to get what you need for a garden.

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September 20, 20050 found this helpful

Ask your local gardening center for any torn or broken bags of mulch, potting soil, woodchips, fertililzer, etc. They sell these at discounted prices to move them out.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 3, 2009

I just moved into a house at the beginning of March. I am excited to finally have a yard, but have found that supplies to beautify the yard are very expensive. I would appreciate any suggestions. Namely, any ideas about where to get free plants?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By tjest from Loveland, OH


June 3, 20090 found this helpful

You can buy seeds very cheaply. Dollar Tree often sells them for 10 cents a package. Start them in the house and then put them outside. If you want to spend a bit more you can buy coleus seeds. Keep the plants in pots and bring them inside when the summer is over. They will continue to grow and you can root more plants from cuttings.

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

The best way to make a garden is to build a raised bed,this picture may help you,do not have to remove grass,just put down several layers of news papers or plastic,put cement blocks around it,on top of the paper or plastic to hold it down & to keep the grass & weeds from growing, then fill it with composted manure from Lowe's,get a bag of 10-10-10- fertilizer from the same place. After you have it filled sprinkle a light layer of the fertilizer on top then rack it in with a yard rack, you are ready to plant. I have done this for many years it works, You do not have to rebuild a garden any more, just add more manure as needed in about a year. I do all this with a wheel bar, hoe, yard rack & a bucket, about a 3 gallon or 5 gall will help you. If you plant tomatoes you will need to stake them if they get tall enough to fall over,you can also locate any info online, search for "how to grow" tomatoes & etc. Good luck.

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

Ask, ask, ask! Most of us with established gardens would happily share cuttings and divisions of plants. The same with tools and some other materials. I bet there are lot of us who have an extra trellis, or planter in the garage that would love to share! Garage sales are a great place to find shovels, etc. Watch the clearance areas in the garden centers or garden parts of stores. Often plants that are past their bloom time will be on clearance.

But don't be hesistant to ask people! Put a note up at church, make a few calls, check craiglist! Good luck!

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

You guys are wonderful! This is one of my favorite sites! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful suggestions!

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June 3, 20090 found this helpful

I moved into my home 4 years ago & also didn't own any gardening supplies. I found some of my larger tools at garage sales, some of the smaller ones I bought at the dollar store (buy 2 because they break easily) & some of the best deals I got at liquidation stores like Big Lost. Big Lots sells quality garden hoses & tools for half the price of Home Depot.

Top get my plants I propagated my own English Laurel hedges (nearly free). All it took was 2 bags of playground sand in a flat box that I lined with a garbage bag. You'll have to buy rooting soil & just Google "Propagating" or the words "rooting plants". Some root better than others.

And don't forget about Farmers Markets for less expensive plants. I bet you could also work for some of these people in exchange for plants! There are also seed exchange clubs on the web.

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June 4, 20090 found this helpful

Check out the website I don't know if you are wanting to plant flowers or veggies, but this site is good for flowers. Please know that if you sign up for you will get posts that will let you know everything that is being posted, but everything on this site has to be be patient. (you might find other things you are looking for for free ie gardening supplies) Every so often there is a post stating 'free xx flower come get and you can have'. As for veggies....farmer's market. I live in central IL so I thought that the idea of a farmer's market would not be near me. I found out differently. They are great! Enjoy your gardening!

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June 12, 20090 found this helpful

Get to know your neighbors! The first week we were here(april) we met our across the street neighbor. She asked if I wanted some plants and of course I said yes. I helped her dig up the bulbs and got to know her while digging. About 75% of my yard came from her yard first. I plan on giving plants to new neighbors from mine in the future. It is a great way to find a good friend. My neighbors are fantastic!

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March 16, 20110 found this helpful

Hi, I don't know if you have ever heard of Freecycle but, they have been a huge help for our family and friends. we were able to receive and donate tons of usable items all for free and they are based all over the USA. Their website is Basically, how it works is you have to sign up which is free.And before you can ask for an item, they like to see you offer something (I think 2 items) for free 1st. Just to make sure you are not a spammer or troublemaker.

You would go to the site and I'll give you a couple of examples. If you were giving away something. You could type"Offer, (your town) little girls size 6 sweatsuit, good condition. Then in the paragraph, you can elaborate and say when you would like the item picked up etc. The best way to learn is by reading other peoples postings. Then, when it's your turn to post, it could be something like "Wanted, any perennial plants, or gardening items, close vicinity to (your town) if important. Or you could put within 10 miles, etc.

I'll tell you, I have given away so much stuff to people who really appreciated it and my daughter got 2 highchairs, a jogging stroller, assorted baby clothes and toys,etc. I've received sewing machines that I cleaned up and donated,got tons of fabrics, craft stuff, yarns, etc. Just beware. LOL. You may accumulate more things than you need! Take Care, Elaine on Long Island

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