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8 ways to garden on the cheap

By on May 20, 2010



Garden season doesn’t have to be costly. If you head out to a retail store and buy everything all at once, it’s going to add up quickly. But if you do some careful planning and are patient and creative, you can enjoy a beautiful garden on a shoestring budget.

What ways have you saved on gardening? Here are a few ideas to enjoy frugal gardening.


Look for ads or place an ad. Many people, when they’re moving into a home and/or are redoing their landscaping, will offer plants for free and ask that you remove and haul them. Some people might have garage/yard sales that include plants, too.


Sign up for a few garden and seed company catalogs or newsletters. Many offer promotions and specials with their catalog. This is especially true for first-time buyers. Look on their websites for specials and search for coupon codes, too.


Some nature centers have native-plant sales. It’s a great opportunity to meet fellow gardeners, too.


Many garden centers pull plants that aren’t perfect quality and place them in the clearance section. Check this area frequently. They aren’t in prime condition, so they might not have pretty blooms this year, but they will look great next year. While you’re there, join their garden club. For example, you can sign up for Home Depot’s garden club in-store or online by visiting You’ll receive garden tips and exclusive savings. And speaking of garden clubs, join your local garden club, plant club or botanical society. You’ll have opportunities to learn more and possibly swap plants and seeds. Don’t be afraid to call nurseries, florists and garden centers, and ask them to contact you if/when they are planning on throwing away any plants. Check to see whether anything can be salvaged. If you do find yourself tempted to buy plants that aren’t on sale, opt for smaller, starter plants, which are cheaper than mature plants.


Many people simply toss away garden plants and supplies. While out and about, keep your eyes open. You might see bricks, plants or signs advertising a plant sale at someone’s home. If you happen to see construction crews or landscapers hauling materials, stop and ask whether they have any plants or garden materials (many tree and shrub branches can be rooted) they plan on throwing away or composting.


Ask whether they have plans to divide perennials. Offer to help them, and ask whether you can have a few divisions. In the future, you can swap plants.


Don’t forget to save seeds from plants. Visit for a list of seed-saving possibilities, such as coneflower, columbine, poppy, marigold and lupine to name a few and information on how to save the seeds. Once you have seeds saved, not only can you expand your own garden, you have something to trade with other gardeners, too.


Don’t overlook plants being sold at your local markets. The prices are often far less than you’ll find at retail stores. You’ll find large and starter plants. Some of these vendors will be open to haggling, too.

photo by opalandtheidiot


  1. Sabrasue Miller

    5/20/2010 at 4:58 pm

    I have a number of plastic flats and plant trays I have saved over the years. Do you have a use for them or a place to recycle them?

    • Carla

      5/20/2010 at 5:17 pm

      Check your local garden centre and see if they take them back. Ours has a big bin where they collect them for reuse/recycling

  2. Karen

    5/21/2010 at 12:02 pm

    I just planted the entire front bed of my house with free plants (all perennials!). One of my neighbours had a large quantity of ferns she was trying to get rid of, so I took a bunch of them. I then placed an offer to swap plants on Kijiji (I had mint, chives, raspberry canes and hollyhocks to offer). A woman responded who had many plants in her back yard she was giving away – I completely filled in the rest of my bed with these plants. I’m so thrilled that I was able to do an entire garden bed for free, and it’s going to look fabulous, too! It is totally worthwhile to get to know other gardeners in your area and start sharing plants. I think it would have cost me well over $100 to purchase everything I received for free.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Food Waste Friday: The Avocado Got Me! =-.

  3. frugalwarrior2

    5/21/2010 at 5:23 pm

    We have always gotten our best plants at school rummage sales when parents bring in their extra plants.
    Greenhouses like Bordines sell perennials at the end of the season for a fraction of the cost. If the rootball isn’t dryed out they’ll bloom for the next year,just get them in right away.

  4. Kathy Davis

    5/27/2010 at 2:06 pm

    I get fruit or Veggies at the grocery store/farmers market. When I use the Carrots, I don’t throw the top away, plant it and you will have carrots. I also plant the bell pepper core and last year I got two small bushes one had a baby bell pepper on it. I got apples and oranges and lemons from the grocery store, when I cut the fruit, I carefully remove the seeds, and plant. I have some apple seeds coming up as well as lemon seeds. I love to watch things grow, and the benefit is that I control what is in the soil. I got some mint from a family member, it is really growing. Last year I cut some roses back and got some cuttings from my Mother in law, they are doing great. I add the damp coffee grounds to the soil, roses love it!!!

  5. anna

    8/4/2010 at 2:35 am

    Don’t forget to save those seeds in the winter in dry plastic bags, seal them up and keep them in the refridgerator over winter. This preserves seed vitality for the following year.

  6. anna

    8/4/2010 at 2:38 am

    You can start your own plants, from ones that you like, simply by taking a cutting in the summer and dip in rooting powder, then stick in potting soil.

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