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Money saving tips for gardeners

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Get a green thumb

Gardening is a popular hobby to indulge in during the summer months. You take great pride in how your garden looks, and considering how hard you work on it, you should. While it can be a source of relaxation, creativity and even exercise, one thing it doesn't have to be is expensive. In order to cut costs when your summer garden is concerned, keep your cash in your pocket and your green where it belongs - on your thumb.

Gardening on a Budget

Your tools

Staying within budget when your gardening tools are concerned should be relatively easy. Simply visit garage sales, thrift shops or even Craigslist for cheap shovels, hoses, wheelbarrows, rakes, etc. Also in order to make your tools last so you don't have to buy new ones every year, make sure you take good care of them by cleaning and drying them before you put them away.

Free plants

A great way to save money on the plants you want in your garden is to get them for free! Just like resale stores, you can receive some quality hand-me-down plants. Join a garden club or plant society where you can swap with fellow members. Check out Craigslist for people who might be offering their previously owned plants. Also ask your local nursery or landscaping crews if they have plants they will be tossing out and take them home for a little TLC.

Go organic

By not using toxic pesticides and fertilizers, you'll not only be an eco-friendly gardener, but you'll save some money in the process. Instead of using chemicals to rid your garden of bugs, look to your kitchen for simple homemade recipes. For example, by spraying vinegar on your trouble spots, you can kill weeds and deter ants, as well as prevent your cats from walking on or digging at your garden. Vinegar will also help your fresh cut flowers last longer by adding two tables spoons of vinegar and one teaspoon of sugar to each quart of water. As Frugal Gardening suggests, combine one tablespoon of dishwashing soap with one cup of cooking oil and then add three tablespoons of this to one quart of water. Spray this concoction directly on your plants to rid your garden of unwanted insects.

Plant perennials

Although they may be more expensive then annuals and less colorful, they are the more economical choice because they come back year after year. Annuals only bloom once, and then you have to shell out cash for new ones the following year. With perennials, you can buy them once and you're set.

Free fertilizer

Instead of purchasing fertilizer, look for ways to accomplish the same thing for free. If you live on a farm or know people that do, animal waste is a brilliant way to fertilize your garden. You can also use wood chips or sawdust from companies that have an excess of it and are willing to give it away. This will not only fertilize your garden but will also cut down on the need to water it. Coffee grounds and decomposed yard waste are also great sources.

Recycle

The best way to save money in your garden is to get creative and use the things you already own.

Instead of buying a watering pail, use an empty milk jug to give your plants a drink.
After enjoying a refreshing popsicle, use the stick to mark your plants.
Take your computer mouse pads and use them as knee pads when getting down and dirty in your yard.

The options are endless for saving money. All you need is a little creativity and imagination.

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