Gardening on a budget and save money

       

Kylie Anderson

A beautiful garden is good not only pleasing to the eye but can also be fulfilling and rewarding work for the gardener who created it. However, as any gardener will tell you there is blood sweat and tears involved in making even the simplest garden shine. Starting and maintaining a garden has endless benefits including the ability to grow your own fruits, vegetables, plants and flowers at your convenience. It is also a great hobby to pick up that can save you lots of money on fruits and vegetables (and also those gym fees). In spite of all of these positives, maintaining a garden can be pretty expensive, and unforeseen garden expenses could lead to needing an emergency loan if care isn't taken. There are however, several ways that you can garden for less and we plan to share some of these tips with you in this article.

Saving the green pennies

There are several methods by which you can save while gardening, and most include making things yourself and choosing organic options for maintenance. We have listed a few suggestions below regarding areas in which you can cut costs.

Hoe or fork?

Don't go overboard when buying tools at the start as you probably won't end up using half of the stuff you buy. Also remember when buying gardening tools, cheaper isn't always better as these are tools you're going to use for many years to come. You therefore want to buy quality tools over cheaper ones as they will often last much longer. When looking for tools, check end of season gardening sales and look for in-store or online discounts. Local supermarkets tend to be cheaper than your average garden centre, so compare prices between the two before you buy. Alternatively, look for garden tools second-hand. You can try the back of your local paper, car boot sales or indeed check out your local recycling centre.


Gardening tools

Seed pots

Did you know that you can make seed starting pots yourself using something as inexpensive as newspaper? They are biodegradable and easy to make. All you need to get started is a sheet of newspaper for each pot you want to make, some empty soup or bean tins, a waterproof tray to help when filling the pot with soil and your moistened seeds. For more detailed tutorials on how to make them, you can always check online.

Check out the list below for some easy grow flower plants and seeds for beginners:

  • Sunflowers
  • Sweetpeas
  • Nigella
  • Aquilegia
  • Californian Poppy
  • Marigold
  • Fuchsias

Compost

Why go to the store and buy compost when you can make your own at home? Making it yourself will save you a lot of money and it's also a great gardening skill to learn. To make compost, all you need to do is layer organic materials such as vegetable scraps, dry leaves, garden clippings, shreds of paper and a bit of soil and you will have your compost magic. You'll have to water the compost pile regularly without adding too much water so the microorganisms don't drown and the pile doesn't rot. Additionally, turn the pile once weekly with a garden fork so that it gets enough oxygen. At the end of the process, the pile should have decomposed into a dry crumbly brown substance and you should have saved yourself a pocket full of money. Cold composting could take up to a year to decompose, while hot composting takes between one to three months.



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Soil improver

Not maintaining good soil could result in your plants not growing properly which then leaves you at a financial loss if you have to start again. Things you can do to ensure your soil remains healthy are adding compost regularly, applying fertiliser and lime rate, and avoiding soil erosion. If it is within your budget, you can always get professional advice about how best to maintain your soil by having it tested. Depending on the type of test you're getting, it could cost from £7 to over £30 per soil sample.

Plant propagation

Getting new plants from the ones you already have sounds like a good way to get more for less. Multiplying your plants through plant propagation is a relatively simple method to help you save more. To do this, you'll need to remove the bottom set of a leaf, preferably a healthy donor plant as it has plenty of stems, and dip that end into rooting gel. This should encourage root growth as it will seal the cut plant tissue. Once you've done that, place the cutting into a small pot with your choice of a soilless potting mix. Try to keep it out of direct sunlight, but ensure it's in a warm and brightly lit area. It may take a few days or months for the cuttings to develop roots but once they have, replant them in another container with moist potting soil. Continue to monitor them until your plants are finally fully developed.

Mulching

Mulching has several money saving benefits including reducing the appearance of herbicides and need for weeding, saving water, preventing random plants from popping up, and improving soil fertility to name a few. To mulch your garden, clear the areas you want to mulch of all weeds. Ensure the ground isn't too dry, but if it is, wet it thoroughly and then apply mulch at least two inches deep. Make sure you clear the mulch away from the plants stems and then use a rake to level out the surface.


pruning

Maintenance

Not maintaining a garden may be a way of indirectly lining yourself up for an unexpected expense. Maintenance is one of the best ways to garden for less as you will curb many unexpected costs by nipping them in the bud (no pun intended!) before they arise. Here are a few low-cost ways to maintain your garden.

Weeds

You need to stay ahead of problems such as weeds or you could end up with a devastating number of damaged plants. Although there is no way of permanently eliminating weeds, there are ways to reduce them and keep them under control. If you're looking for both an organic and effective means of tackling weeds, you can try using cardboard. Just cut the weeds to ground level and place the cardboard pieces on top. Lightly soak the cardboard with a hose and then cover it with a thick layer of mulch or rock for a cheaper option.

Pests

Pest damage can result in major loses, so it's important you minimise the risk through taking preventative measures. Research the type of pests that are common in the area you're planting in before-hand if possible. You can then choose plants and fences that these pests will be resistant to in order to reduce the risk of collateral damage.

Natural resources

There are several inexpensive ingredients from around the house you can use to maintain your plants and garden.

Vinegar

There are so many ways that vinegar will save you money in your garden. It can be used to keep your garden chemical-free as well as keep garden destroyers like rabbits, cats, dogs, and moles away as they hate the scent of vinegar. It's also useful in killing weeds, extending the lifespan of cut flowers, eliminating insects and fruit flies, cleaning rust from your garden tools and saving your plants from fungus. You would probably agree that you can get an overwhelming amount of value for your garden from an inexpensive bottle of vinegar.

Tea bags

This common item has many uses such as adding nitrogen and good bacteria to compost. Additionally, they repel pests, fertilize acid-loving houseplants, are a natural fertiliser for potted plants, give roses a boost, speed up composting and are great plant food. They also improve soil structure and are food for earthworms.

Citrus peel

Chemical pesticides cost money, so there is a better way to deal with pest infestation if it's mild. You can try tearing citrus peels into relatively small pieces and putting them around the affected plant. It isn't guaranteed that it will entirely tackle the problem, but it's definitely a cheaper and more organic solution.

Waste water

Whenever you happen to steam some veggies or eggs, remember that water is useful for fertilising your plants. Don't pour the water when it's hot, wait for it to cool down and then put it to good use in your garden or add to your water butt.

How to set up a garden

If you don't already have a garden but you're considering setting one up, this section is for you. There are a few simple steps you'll need to take to get things up and running. If it happens to be your first garden, you might want to start small just so that if anything goes wrong, it isn't a massive drain on your time and wallet. However, learning by making mistakes is not a bad way to go about things. Once you've done all of the ground work, you'll need to plant the seeds and water them according to their individual needs. Traditionally the best season to begin digging and planting is spring, while summer is usually spent watering the plants, uprooting the weeds, and watching the plants and/or flowers grow.

To find a great location takes a little research as most plants need at least six hours of sunshine a day. The good news is, some plants tolerate shade as well so don't get too bent out of shape if you can't find a perfectly sunny spot. Observe the place you have in mind and see what the sun movement is like throughout the day and if it will suffice for the particular type of plant you are considering planting.

Soil is one of the most important aspects of gardening, so if you don't have good soil, you most likely won't breed good plants, flowers or vegetables either. To begin, you'll need to prep the ground by clearing the area of all grass, weeds, and anything else that will get in the way of your new plants' growth. You can also consider buying soil improver if your current soil is really bad. Once this is complete, you'll need to invest in some muscle power to dig in some bulky organic matter and fertiliser. Alternatively, you can get your soil tested before attempting to improve it in order to get a professional opinion on how good it is and what measures you should take to make it better.

There are an endless number of plants to choose from depending on what type of garden you choose to have. You'll need to do your research and bear in mind the type of soil you have, how much time you can invest, the lifespan of each as well as how long they take to grow. To save money, long and slow growing plants may be the best bet as they may require low maintenance.

Conclusion

Gardening can be a rewarding hobby and also one that saves you money you would usually spend buying vegetables and fruits from your local supermarket. Maintaining it, however, is something that takes time and dedication, and quite a bit of money if you don't budget and maintain your garden. Hopefully we've been able to give you useful tips on how you can enjoy the pleasures of gardening for less, as well as ways to avoid needing an emergency loan through preventing as many garden disasters as possible.

Let us know on our social media pages what methods you use to save money when you're gardening and what you find is your biggest expense. Feel free to share this article with a fellow gardener who could use some gardening saving tips today! If you need more information why not check out the RHS website.