12 Free or Cheap Gardening Ideas
12 Free or Cheap Gardening Ideas
Here’s a list to help you get your garden going with 12 free or cheap gardening ideas! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to do some great gardening.
The first SIX free or cheap gardening ideas –
- Start seeds instead of buying plants – you’ll save lots! Buy seeds in the spring when they go on sale. Valu Home Centers , a hardware and home improvement chain in my area, always has seed packets on sale really cheap in the spring. This year, during two different sale weeks, they were on sale 4 packets for $1.00!
- Cut old plastic miniblinds up into smaller pieces and use with a Sharpie to name your plants in the planting beds. The first photo is what the blinds look like before you write on them.
- Newspaper is useful in lots of ways. Make pots out of old newspaper to fill with potting soil for your seeds. The second photo above shows miniblind plant tags being used and a really great example of newspaper pots for your plants. You can also lay newspaper down as a weed barrier (get it wet so it says put and doesn’t blow away!) and an excellent soil amendment.
- Make your own bug spray – Derek Markham at http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/8-natural-homemade-insecticides-save-your-garden-without-killing-earth.html has some GREAT recipes!
- Buy small trees from your local cooperative extension or farm agency in the spring. They usually offer a great variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, and more that are native to your area. The prices are also really reasonable. For instance, I am able to buy 10 blue spruce trees for $12.00 in my area in the springtime. These are almost always bare root, dormant plants. They may take a little while to start growing once planted, but after a couple of years, they have caught up with a pot-grown plant and maybe even passed them! Here’s a link to our local agency: http://www.niagaraswcd.com/TreeandShrub_2014.html. Although these are often pre-sale, the wait is worth it. You can also just go on the day of the sale and pick up some trees or shrubs because there are always extra plants.
- Horticultural societies also have great sales. You can often get the hottest new plants at prices that are cheaper than you would find retail. In the Buffalo area, we can buy from the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. They have a wonderful sale every year that is incredibly well-attended. It is pre-sale, just like the cooperative extension agencies, but that’s OK – the discounts are worth the wait. And, also like the cooperative extension agencies, you can often go the day of the show and pick up extra plants that are on hand just for walk-in’s or to supply people who just want more than they ordered. Here’s a link to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens 2017 ordering page: https://www.buffalogardens.com/collections/great-plant-sale-pre-order.
Here are even more great free or cheap gardening ideas!
- Garden Clubs are also a fabulous way to get wonderful plants for your garden at really cheap prices. Garden clubs usually have sales at least once a year to raise money for the club. The gardeners who belong to the club donate the plants for the sale. You can often find wonderful plants at these sales, and the prices are almost always great. Here’s a link to a local gardening club, the Wheatfield Garden Club. Although they don’t have a dedicated website, at the very bottom of the page, you can see details about their annual plant sale!
- Get mulch from your local municipality! Lots of municipalities offer shredded mulch to the residents of the municipality for free. At our local town garage, they will even load it into your truck or trailer. We can get it only at certain times of the year, and they don’t deliver. Your town might restrict the mulch because of certain insect pests that might be in the mulch, so be sure to ask about that with your town or municipality.
- Get cuttings from other plants. Your friends, family, and neighbors probably have plants that are easily rooted from a simple cutting. Coleus are a really good example: you just cut the end of the stalk with a few leaves, and put it in a glass of water. It will make roots in no time, and you can plant it directly into your potting soil or garden.
- Save seeds every year from your heirloom vegetables. Heirloom vegetable plants are really popular now because of their nostalgia. Many people don’t know that you can save seeds from heirloom vegetables and they will produce the same vegetable from seed, without the undesirable qualities that seeds from hybrids produce. Free seeds!
- Dig and divide existing plants. Many plants just do better when they are broken up into divisions every couple of years. Hostas, canna lilies, and daffodils are all examples of kinds of plants that you up and divide at the end of the season every year.
- Use black plastic garbage bags to warm your soil in the spring and to keep weeds down. Take the bag, cut it so that it opens into a sheet, and lay it flat over the garden area you want to plant. Hold down the edges with rocks (not pebbles!) or some other heavy object at the edges of the plastic. Early in the spring, this method is good to warm your planting area so you can plant earlier. You can also just cut holes in the plastic and plant your plants into the holes – the rest of the black plastic will cook and smother weeds in the hot sun.