7 Quick Tips to Garden on a Budget

4 years ago

I have some good news and some bad news about gardening. The bad news is that it can cost a fortune to have and maintain a garden… but the good news is that it doesn't have to! One mistake we all make when it comes to our gardens is not having a clear idea of how much we are willing to spend on it. We go into it without having a plan of attack, and end up spending way more than we had originally wanted to.

I am here to say that you don't have to have a small fortune to have a garden… you just need to know what is right for you, your wallet, and your garden. I've compiled 7 easy ways to garden on a budget to ideally save you a little big if time, headache, and overall cash!

Tip 1: Do It Yourself.

I know, this sounds like a no-brainer. DIY projects don't automatically mean you save money, but here are a few projects I recommend:

  • Making your own fertilizers or products for pest control.
  • Make your own garden beds out of reclaimed lumber.
  • Create your own trellises and other items for supporting your plants. I've seen some fantastic ideas on Pinterest for using branches and twine to create a trellis. This would cost very little.
  • Make your own rainwater barrels and compost bins.

Tip 2. Don't Buy If You Don't Have To.

Make arrangements with friends and family. Rent items you need, or find them on Craigslist (or comparable sites) and garage sales.

  • Tools can cost a lot of money, and if you don't have the tools necessary for the job… the job gets a lot harder. But you don't have to buy everything. A friend or family member who would be willing to let you use their tools is a great way to save money! (Be sure to return the tools in good condition; they are doing you a favor by lending these items to you, so respect the things they spent their hard-earned money on.)
  • Another alternative is to rent tools or equipment from your local home improvement store for a fee. These rentals are usually for 24 hours, so make sure you are ready to use them when you pick them up! Renting them then waiting until the next day to start your project is a huge waste of time and money.
  • Look at garage sales and sites like Craigslist for items like rakes, shovels, and maybe even a lawnmower. Be sure you're getting a good buy, though! Not everything is worth the smaller price tag.
  • Items like soil, lumber, rock, and manure can be found for free or at very low cost through Craigslist. You might even know somebody who is looking to get rid of such items. Just be prepared to do the work of loading and hauling your own stuff!
  • Get your seeds from people who have saved seeds from their garden. They might be willing to part with some, if they were able to collect a bunch in the previous season. (My mom gave me some seeds from her garden as part of a Christmas gift! I loved getting something that I can use for my garden later.)

Tip 3. Practice Regular Maintenance.

This one speaks for itself. Keeping the items you do have in good condition will extend the life of your investment. Spending time cleaning off tools, storing items properly, and maintaining your garden space will save money in the long run.

Tip 4. Splurge… a Little.

There are certain areas where cheaper isn't always better.

  • When selecting seeds and starter plants, be sure you are getting quality and a great price. The cheapest price tag tends to signify lower quality and value. However, you don't have to go to the other end of the spectrum to get great quality items, and a high price doesn't automatically reflect the quality. Do your research before buying to make sure you get the best quality for the best deal.
  • Also be careful with tools. These are an investment; something you probably want to use season after season. The lower the quality, the shorter the lifespan. Make your money work for you for years by spending money {wisely} to make your purchase an investment.
  • You may need to splurge a bit on soil. Having good soil is imperative to the life and success of your garden. Without it, your garden just won't do what you want it to, and all your time, money, and energy will go right down the drain.
  • When you are buying new, look for sales! There are times when there are always sales: Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, and at the end of a season.

Tip 5. Conserve.

  • Take your trash and make it into a treasure! How much do you throw out in food each week? After you mow your lawn, what do you do with the clippings? All this "trash" is really a treasure for your garden … and it's at no additional cost to you. Turn your leftover food bits, clippings, and other materials and turn it into compost for your garden. Make sure you read up on composting to learn how to get the most out of it. (My mom is able to just pile everything in a corner of her property and let it do its thing. I live in a townhouse, so I wanted to minimize pests, so I opted to buy a $15 trash bin to use as a compost bin.)
  • Water is a large expense for most gardens, so conserving water will help you save on overall cost. You can make or buy a rainwater barrel, and use what you collect to water your garden.
  • Save your seeds! Saving seeds will get you started next season, cutting down on the expense you will have later on down the road.

Tip 6. Plan Ahead.

How many times have you gone to the garden center and ended up buying way more than you needed? I have done that way too many times!

  • Planning ahead will give you a clear picture of what items you truly need to buy. Write out the list and your max budget before you leave your house! …and then stick to it.
  • Before buying your plants, seeds, soil, fertilizer, etc., know exactly what you need and how much of it.
  • When buying tools and larger equipment, do your research before you leave the house so you don't get sucked into buying something you don't want or need.
  • Make a plan for when you are going to buy which items. Not everything has to be bought all at the same time. Write your shopping schedule on your garden planner/calendar.
  • Schedule your garden days, and be ready to get your plants in the ground at the optimal times. You don't want to kill your garden by not getting starter plants in the ground in time. You also don't want to forget you have a garden and kill it by not watering it in time.

Tip 7. Have Patience! 

Patience is key when it comes to your garden. It doesn't grow and happen overnight.

  • You won't  grow your garden faster by adding "extra" fertilizer or water… in fact, that will kill it.
  • Whether vegetables, fruits, or decorative plants, buying smaller will save you money. Having the patience to watch your small plant grow into the garden it is a fantastic experience. You could even take photos each year to see just how much your garden has matured.
  • If you have to start with a smaller garden the first year because of budget constraints, then take your time and grow into your garden.

What other tips do you have for saving money?

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