By taking care of my own lawn and garden, I’m saving thousands of dollars of year by not having to hire a landscaper. Even with these savings, I like to save even more, which is why a recent “Gardening on a Shoestring” article by Mary Hunt caught my eye. It included some clever ways to have a great garden without spending extra cash.
Combining Hunt’s advice and mine, here are 5 ways to garden on the cheap.
- Find natural and inexpensive ways to get rid of bugs. Hunt likes to use the vampire trick to get rid of aphids–she places gloves of garlic near her plants. I’d always heard that spraying a soapy, non-toxic solution on plants kept them bug free. (I’m partial to Dawn dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle.)
- Keep costs down on tools by sharing and swapping. I recently researched a magazine article on how swapping stuff can save money. I came across a group called Neighborrow, which is exactly what it sounds like–an organized way to borrow things from people rather than buying new. In a pinch you can always borrow gardening tools from your neighbors, without a formal agreement or umbrella group overseeing the swap, and then you just return the favor when your neighbor needs something from you.
- Look for free or low-cost landscaping options. Hunt recommends asking about ripped bags of soil or mulch at home improvement stores, which, like a dent-and-scratch item, are usually marked down. She also recommends looking for the plant “graveyard” for nearly dead plants that could be nearly free. Another way to get free plants is to look for them on Freecycle (something I’ve done to boost my own garden) or go dumpster diving/trash picking. I got a flowering tree this way when I dragged it out of my neighbor’s trash.
- Skip expensive weed-prevention sheets. You want to know one of the best ways to keep weeds out of your garden–without having to weed? Lay down sheets of newspaper and then cover them with mulch. These will choke out any weeds that are thinking of sprouting up and help to keep your garden pretty much weed free.
- Make your own mulch and organic matter. If you ever have a tree taken down, don’t let the tree company take the wood away. Have them chip it up into mulch and leave it for you to use in your own garden. Similarly, if you’re planting new things, turn to your compost bin for organic matter rather than paying for someone to bring in manure.
What about you? How do you keep your gardens going when you’re on a budget?