Thursday, March 13, 2008

10 Cheap Tricks to Great Gardens

Let's start by saying that if you have the money to spend on your garden than by all means spend it! But most of us have to be budget conscious when we plan or prep our gardens. And having an inexpensive garden doesn't have to look cheap. And spending a lot of money doesn't always guarentee a beautiful garden. I like to think that what my garden lacks in cash I make up for in blood, sweat, and tears AND CREATIVITY! Here are some of my tips for a cheap and fantastic garden:

  1. Invest in longer living plants. Perrenials will give you a longer bang for your buck but they may not provide the instant WOW you're looking for. But still with a little patience perrenials will provide years of blooms.

  2. Choose disease resistant varieties. While there is always controversy over heirlooms versus disease resistant I always choose the latter. My reason is simply I hate to spray chemicals on any plants. Chemicals cost money so I'd rather spend the money on a disease resistant plant and avoid the extra work and worry of spraying.

  3. Join a Garden club. You know I can go on FOREVER about the benefits of a garden club but seed and plant swaps are invaluable! Also you know who to call when you have questions regarding your newly swapped plant.

  4. Visit your nursery on shipment day. This is a no-brainer but it took me years to figure out~LOL. Grab the healthiest plants before anyone else has a chance.

  5. Maximize your harvest by planting in Raised or Framed Beds. These provide better drainage and better soil opprotunities.

  6. Group your plants by how much water they need. While this just makes good basic garden sense it is often overlooked when it comes to saving money. Just think how much you could save on the water bill if your not running out to douse the whole garden everyday when it actuality only a few of the plants need that drink.

  7. Spend time in the Garden. If you don't have money to spend then spend time. After all, the more time you spend the quicker you'll notice pests, disease and other problems. And the quicker you spot a problem the more likely you can "nip it in the bud" so to speak.

  8. Be helpful. I've found many benefits to my garden by helping someone else in theirs! Anytime a gardener says, "I'm not feeling well" or "I have to scale back." Offer your services. If you can help the gardener my maintaining their garden while they recover from surgery or illness they'll be grateful. And more likely to share, cuttings, seedlings, etc. If you can't convince the gardener to continue with their large gardens offer to help them with the "heavy" work as they scale back. Then ask if you could adopt some of the plants they no longer have time for. Obviously, I like to be helpful even if I don't get anything in return but gardeners have big hearts so that rarely happens.

  9. Someone else's compost may be your really great garden. Don't be afraid to find plant material in odd places. I got most of my garden material for my backyard bed from a compost pile of a gardening friend. I have another friend who has 5 gallon buckets and garden shovels in the back of her vehicle at all times in case she spots a roadside "must-have".

  10. Don't be afraid to ask. A great compliment will you get you just about anything. Another friend was working in her front yard when a local exerciser called to her. "I really love that plant of yours. It's magnificent...What is it?" They delved into coversation. The next day my friend waited for this exerciser to make her way past the house again. When the runner came along she hurried out and gifted her with a small piece of the plant. They've been good friends ever since.

These are simple money savers that can really change the way you garden and the way your garden looks. Be choosy, Be helpful, Be thrifty, Be kind...and your garden will reap the rewards.


M Sinclair Stevens (Texas) said...

As someone brought up to be extremely thrifty, I appreciate this list. I find that I follow a lot of your suggestions, too.

One difference it that, rather than invest in perennials, I grow a lot of annuals from seed. I choose plants (like larkspur) which self-sow in my climate. And I've learned to make a garden with plants that grow readily (like certain yuccas and agave) rather than always longing for difficult plants.

I've had mixed results with perennials. We have quite varied weather conditions (drought one year, floods the next) that I have a difficult time keeping them going. I decided initially that in some cases one expensive perennial (because it was large and took up the space of a dozen annuals) was actually cheaper than annuals. But after losing a lot of my perennials in the drought of 2006, I'm getting back into annuals...especially growing food plants in with my flowers.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Great post ! .. and I actually follow almost everything you have covered , so that makes me happy knowing I'm on the right track !
I get to know my garden center managers .. it helps me feel comfortable asking questions about their suppliers and suggesting plants that I would love to see come in .. that I know I'm not the only gardener, with a full garden, looking for some special ones .. sometimes they will actually order those just for me, or at least find out where I can go to get them.
It always helps getting to know these people in charge .. Sometimes they just help me out so I will stop pestering them too ! haha

Anonymous said...

Great ideas, CJ. Thanks!!! My mentor, Ben Franklin, would be proud of you!!!

Frances, said...

Great tips, but I must make a comment about that roadside digging, some places it is illegal and /or the plant might be protected for some reason. In the past I have dug many a plant that way, and realize now that times have changed and laws have been passed affecting this seemingly harmless way to get more plants. Even though you are doing the plant a favor, maybe saving it from a construction site where it will be demolished, they have weird laws about it. Sometimes even with the permission of the property owner, you could get into trouble. Sorry to be a downer here, but I don't want anyone to be embarrassed or worse!

Shady Gardener said...

Nice post! I appreciate that you were one of my first visitors on Blotanical. I'm still trying to find time to mosey around over there. But I certainly appreciate the site's intent! :-)

May I add a link to your site on mine? I'd like to remember to visit more often.

CJ said...

M~Thanks for the great comment! I think that a garden should be enjoyed without worry as to the cost of a single plant. It seems like you've done exactly that!

Joy~I think that every customer ought to use they're garden suppliers like that! After all, if we want a garden plant someone else will want it too...

OurfriendBen~Great minds think alike!

Frances~Your absolutely right! and if I did it I would get caught! LOL. However, the laws aren't that strict here...yet. My friend is always very careful to take a single plant living among many but I know others aren't always so kind. Thanks for the reminder.

Shady~Your Welcome! I love getting a chance to say hi to new members. And of course you may link to my blog. And please feel free to subscribe if you'd like a more automatic way to read my posts.

Kylee said...

Hi CJ! I left a note on the reminder page about you winning the book, as well as on the original post page under your comment. I haven't heard from you yet, so I'm thinking you maybe didn't see it. Anyway....


You can e-mail me through my profile page to let me know where I can send it!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Saving gardening dollars and getting the most bang for your buck is important! These are great tips.

Kylee said...

Now I'm back to really read this, and what wonderful advice you've given! I do much of it myself and couldn't agree more.