Test Your Soil
Before you even begin planting, it will likely be worth your time to do a simple soil test. This will allow you to pinpoint exactly what nutrients your soil lacks. As a result, you won’t end up spending money on unneeded additives to help things grow. A lot of soil tests also recommend which plants are best for your soil type, which means you won’t waste money buying plants that are unlikely to grow.
Select Hard-working Plants
If you’re trying to keep your costs low, one of the best things you can do is select plants that look good for more than just a few weeks of the year. For example, while forsythia may look gorgeous for a couple of weeks in spring, it offers little by way of beauty for the rest of the year. Perennial geraniums such as Rozanne, however, bloom from early summer right through to the first frosts, keeping your garden looking lovely for most of the year. Another great alternative is fothergilla, which offers lovely white flowers in springtime and then presents you with fabulous red and yellow foliage come fall.
Focus On Quality, Not Quantity
While you may be able to seemingly save a lot of money by purchasing in bulk or by buying from discount suppliers, this could end up costing you more money in the long run. When you’re selecting your plants, focus on quality, not quantity. Buy specimens that are healthy enough to grow and won’t fail the second you leave the store. You’re always better off choosing plants that look to have a bright future. Plus, if you buy plants that aren’t 100% healthy, it’s likely you’ll end up wasting more money and time trying to nurse them back to health. Less is more, as they say.
Purchase Small-sized Plants
When you’re choosing plants, you may find your budget stretches further if you avoid buying fully-grown specimens. While large plants will instantly transform your garden, they’re likely to also drain your budget much quicker. Instead, choose saplings, small-sized plants and growing from seeds.
As a result, you’ll likely get more for your money and in time you’ll still end up with the same beautiful garden. Similarly, when you’re planting, remember to keep in mind what the mature sizes of your plants will be. While your garden may look sparsely populated at first, this is better than facing an overcrowding issue once your plants begin to grow. This means you won’t have to waste time and money relocating them.
Invest In Quality Tools
The quality-over-quantity rule applies even when it comes to your gardening tools. Though an $8 shovel may be hard to pass up, bear in mind it’s more than likely going to break in the short term. While buying higher-priced, quality tools may not look good on your bank balance at first, you have to remember that they’re an investment. They’re far more durable, and therefore they’ll last longer so you won’t have to waste money replacing them every few months.
Share and Trade
If you have friends or neighbors who also have green fingers, this could be advantageous when it comes to stretching your budget. By teaming up with friends, you’ll be able to share and trade, which will help you get more for you money. For example, if you’re all ordering online or by mail order, you’ll save on postage fees by putting it through as one order. Also, it’s rare that you actually need to use an entire packet of seeds, so why not only use half and trade for a half a packet of someone else’s seeds?
This is a great way to grow a wider variety of plants in your garden at a much lower cost. Similarly, you’ll be able to trade cuttings with each other, too. Sharing the cost with friends also makes it much easier to purchase things in bulk; however, if you choose to do this, bear in mind tip No. 3 and focus on quality, not quantity.
Choose Native Plants
Choosing plants native to your region is a great way to stretch your budget. By selecting species that grow naturally in your area, you’re likely to avoid costly endeavors such as pampering them throughout winter, focusing on soil correction and splashing out on extra water.
Doing a little bit of research into what does and doesn’t grow in your region is a great way to ensure your plants will thrive and that you’ll have a beautiful garden without breaking the bank. While this tip may limit your choices of plants somewhat, you’re still guaranteed to have hundreds of alluring options available to you.
Grow Your Own
Even if you just want a flower garden, you should consider devoting a small area to growing fruits and vegetables. The simple reason for this is because after just a year or two, you’ll find the fruit and vegetable plants save you money on grocery shopping. You will recoup the money you paid for them, and then some. You’ll reap the benefits and delicious taste of homegrown food, and you’ll be able to save your hard-earned money so you’ll have more of it to spend on improving your garden.
Believe it or not, watering bills can be one of the highest costs when it comes to gardening—an irritating fact considering water is essential if you want your garden to bloom. You can, however, cut down on your watering bills using a variety of methods that could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
First, choose the time you water carefully. For example, if you water in the morning hours when the day is still relatively cool, your garden will lose less water through evaporation. Second, it may be worth investing in a soaker hose to ensure water is delivered directly to plant roots.
Also, while mulch seems to be a “love it or leave it” subject, there’s no denying that the use of it helps keep your plants cool and moist. It may also be worth asking whether you can have a separate water meter installed that is specifically for outdoor use. You’ll find water that is metered for outdoor use is often charged at a considerably lower rate due to the fact there’s no reuse or sewer charge.
Get Free Advice
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to do with your garden or aren’t sure when to carry out particular tasks, there are plenty of places and people who will gladly share free information with you. This means you don’t always need to pay for professional advice. Your local garden center is a great place to start. All of the staff there will be knowledgeable on the subject of gardening and they’ll be more than happy to help. There are also lots of websites that offer free and helpful advice, or you could simply continue reading Maximum Yield!
Of course, there will be times when it’s necessary to spend a little extra on your garden materials, but provided you’ve saved costs where you can the impact won’t be so great. Ensuring your garden blooms on a budget is all about balance, tightening the purse strings where you can and splurging where necessary.