Spring is here and people everywhere are getting their hands dirty in the garden. It’s a great activity, and like every hobby our clients are involved in, it can come with unexpected expenses. Let’s talk about how to keep your gardening activities on budget.
- Get organized—start with an inventory what you have. If you packed up all of your gardening supplies a year or two ago, you may not remember which gardening tools and supplies you have on hand. Avoid buying the same thing twice by completing an inventory before you shop.
- Research carefully—the internet can teach you almost everything you need to know. Learn how to prune your trees yourself, and plan your garden without having to hire a professional. Our advice: start with YouTube; there’s a video for everything
- Get creative—you can recycle old junk into planters, or if you’ve got plastic food containers you’re about to throw away, wash then and consider using them to start your seeds, or use your empty egg cartons to start a dozen new plants. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas for how to upcycle waste into usable gardening supplies.
- Buy seeds—it’s cheaper to buy seeds and start them yourself than to buy seedlings. You can trade seeds with neighbors as well; get together and split up bulk seed purchases.
- Ask around—Nextdoor.com or Craigslist might have info about free local items you can take off of someone’s hands. Nextdoor is particularly great because you can ask your neighbors what grows well in your area, etc. If your neighborhood isn’t on Nextdoor yet, you can get together with some neighbors and start a Nextdoor page yourself.
- Garage Sales and Auctions—be on the lookout for estate sales or garage sales—gardening tools are the kinds of things that can last forever, and ceramic pots can be cleaned up and re-used. There’s little reason to buy new when shopping for planting gear.
- Get free compost—look into trading with your town’s yard waste collection for free compost. If your city doesn’t offer this, you can make your own compost inexpensively. First, see if your city offers a free composter. If not, you can make one from 5-gallon buckets rather than buy a composter. There are lots of good ideas online for getting started; visit the EPA’s site to learn more.
- Look into square foot gardening—it needs less water and results in less work for you, as weeds are kept to a minimum, fewer tools needed, etc. Learn more at org.
- Don’t be afraid to think small. If you’re new to gardening, don’t go all out your first year. Start with a small area or a single planter and get into the habit slowly. If you enjoy it and you have enough time for it, you can expand your garden next year. But in the short term, save money and time by dipping your toe in the water first.
- With trees, think long term. The benefits of a tree can last a lifetime, so the costs should be budgeted out over 10 years at least. That means a tree will be more expensive than the typical gardening purchase, so you will want to budget for it in advance. Do some homework about what kind of tree you’d like, what kind of maintenance it is going to need, and how big you can start. If you’re looking for fruit-bearing trees, start with the oldest tree you can buy so there are fewer years to wait before it bears fruit.
Gardening is a way of life for many people; there’s a lot of free information on the web about how to get started and how to save money while doing it.