Two things have always been true throughout my adult life: If I worked outside the home, I never have enough time to garden. When I was a stay at home mom and worked inside the home, I never had enough money. Since I love to garden I had to find ways to stretch the almighty dollar. I have bought a lot of plants over the years, but I have found, traded and been given many more than I ever purchased. When you acquire plants this way each plant comes with a story, not a receipt. Gardeners are a great group of people and they love to share their stories just as much as their plants. Here are some great tips to start gardening on the cheap!
- Don’t be too proud to pick up plants left on the curb. One day I passed a street of new model homes and saw a landscape crew ripping plants out of the ground. I stopped and asked what they were doing and was told they had decided to change the landscape. With permission, I loaded as many giant bags of plants as I could carry in my Volkswagen. I planted as much as I could in my yard and shared the rest with my garden club. I also came across a huge pile of Cannas that had been left out for the garbage. I took them and shared them with neighbors up and down my street as well as donated some to a local park.
- Check the trash at your local nursery. When new stock is on the way they will often toss plants that no longer look good. A good gardener can bring these little guys back with a little TLC.
- Offer to tidy up a friend or neighbors yard in exchange for the cuttings, seeds and new sprouts of plants you don’t have. Propagating plants is a great way to add to your garden, and it’s fun too!
- Harvest seeds and take cuttings from the plants you already have to share or trade.
- Look for the discount rack at the local garden center. My favorite store has a rack in the back of 50 to 75% off plants. I feel like it is my personal mission in life to save as many of these plants as I can. If there are exceptional deals, I will post it on my garden clubs web site so they can help me rescue even more plants. If they look really bad, the manager will usually mark them down further if I ask.
- Go to botanical garden and plant society sales. I went to our local Iris and Daylily Society sale this fall and bought plants for as little as $1 each! I looked the plants up on the internet after I got home and saw some selling for as much as $14 a piece
- Plant Swaps- These are by far my favorite way to acquire plants because they are so much fun! Join a garden club or find a swap by talking to other gardeners in you area on an Internet community like the one here on Garden .com!
One more great tip; check out your local recycling center for a source of free mulch. A garden doesn’t look finished without a fresh layer of mulch, especially the free kind. So get out there and start gardening, with or without money!