Want a beautiful backyard on a budget? You don’t have to pay retail prices at the nursery or home improvement store.
Here are ten ways to get free plants:
1. Drive around your neighborhood on trash day. You’ll often find potted plants on the curbside, and healthy greenery amidst the landscaping “debris.”
2. Contact landscapers, and ask if you can have the plants they’re tearing out.
3. Ask local nurseries if you can have their old stock when they clear their shelves for new inventory.
4. Check community resources; some towns offer free trees for residents to plant.
5. Browse through offerings online at Freecyle.org and Craigslist.com.
6. Save seeds from your flowers and vegetables, and plant them.
7. Plant self-seeders. Your garden will grow fuller each year, with no additional work or expense.
8. Take cuttings from your current plants (or those of friends and neighbors), and grow new ones.
9. Make friends with gardeners. They’ll often give away extra plants when clearing their beds.
10. Invest in perennials. You may have to buy the first batch, but they’ll multiply over time. Individual plants can be divided about every three years.
Why spend good money on dirt? Instead, make your own fertilizer by composting; it’s eco-friendly, as well as financially-savvy!
Compose is a rich, dark substance formed by the decomposition of vegetable matter and plant waste. It retains moisture, and provides a hospitable environment for earthworms—thereby making it ideal for plant growth.
You can make your own compost simply by gathering waste from your yard and kitchen. Acceptable materials include grass clippings, leaves, twigs, cuttings, pine needles, paper towels, vegetable scraps, banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
For best results, you’ll need to layer and mix your compost appropriately, and turn your pile regularly.
Reference the following websites for further information, and detailed instructions:
How to Compost.org
How to Compost: Composting Instructions
Compost Guide – Composting Fundamentals
163 Things You Can Compost
Composting for Beginners | Plow & Hearth
Many communities offer agricultural resources to support local gardeners. Take advantage of these programs; you’ll save money, meet other green thumbs, and learn valuable techniques and information.
Here’s some resources you may expect to find in your community:
* Free mulch and compost from community recycling programs
* Free trees for residents to plant, to assist in beautification efforts
* Plots in community gardens
* Classes on gardening basics
* Workshops on native plants and local growing conditions
* Discussion groups for gardening enthusiasts
* An office of the nationwide Cooperative Extension Program. They offer soil testing; provide information on frost dates, pests, and other topics; and make volunteers available to answer gardening questions.
* Beautiful public parks. A wonderful way to enjoy nature without lifting a finger, or spending a dime!
Landscaping and lawn care can drastically increase your water usage—and water bills—during the spring and summer months. Here’s eight ways to conserve water, and still have a lush backyard:
1. Water only when necessary. Instead of running sprinklers on a regular schedule, water your lawn only when it needs it.
2. Water early in the morning. The cooler temperatures and calmer winds will minimize water lost to evaporation.
3. Water longer, but less frequently, to penetrate deeper into roots.
4. Position sprinklers to avoid wasting water on the sidewalk or driveway.
5. Install a drip irrigation system. It uses up to 50 percent less water than conventional sprinklers.
6. Capture excess water from household chores—like boiling pasta or rinsing dishes—to use on lawns and non-edible plants.
7. Install a rain barrel under your gutter system, to collect water for landscaping.
8. Xeriscape. Native plants thrive on natural rainfall, and don’t need to be watered.
Instead of swiping your credit card at the garden center, used recycled materials to meet your landscaping needs!
Here are some ideas for giving old items new life in your garden:
1. Use yogurt cups, egg cartons, or pots made from toilet paper rolls, to start seeds.
2. Use buckets, milk jugs, coffee cans, boxes, and baskets as planters.
3. Use old bricks, concrete blocks, and pavers for hardscaping.
4. Make a greenhouse from old windows.
5. Build a trellis from wood and wire.
6. Craft a bench from a discarded door.
7. Make mosaics from broken plates, pots, and tiles.
8. Use old lumber or scavenged rocks to border beds.
Be creative. You’ll not only keep items out of the landfill; you’ll keep a lot more money in your wallet!
If you’re just starting a garden, you may lack some of the basic implements. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay big bucks for them at the local garden center!
Here are seven ways you can save money on garden tools:
1. Buy used tools. Look for them at thrift stores, and garage or estate sales.
2. Browse Craigslist.com and Freecycle.org. Many people give away yard and garden supplies when they move.
3. Drive around your neighborhood on trash day, and look for freebies on the curbside.
4. Borrow seldom-used tools from other gardeners.
5. Organize a tool share in your neighborhood.
6. Shop end-of-season sales. You can get deep discounts on garden supplies when retailers clear out seasonal stock.
7. Care for your tools. With good maintenance, you may never need to buy replacements.