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How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery

Transform your garden without emptying your wallet. Uncover savvy strategies to save big at the garden nursery and cultivate a beautiful, budget-friendly oasis.

As a gardener who is always at the garden nursery, I’m always looking for ways to save a little money.

Because let’s face it, gardening can become an expensive hobby if you find yourself shopping all the time!

However, we can still find joy in gardening without dropping 1000s of dollars every time we go.

There are ways to cut corners and save money while still growing beautiful gardens at the same time.

Follow these budget-friendly gardening tips as you design, plant, and grow your gardens this year.

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How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery

Because gardening is my passion, I buy a lot of plants, garden supplies, and tools. So I am always looking to save money when I shop at the garden nursery.

And the savings can be huge if you time and do it right!

Are you looking for ways to get a little more bang for your buck? Here are some budget-friendly gardening tips to try this year.

Dividing Plants

If you grow perennials in your garden, it’s important to divide them every few years to keep their size in check and maintain plant health.

An additional benefit of dividing perennials, is you get more plants for free which means far fewer trips to the garden nursery to fill beds and containers.

This might seem obvious, but even I have to remind myself that it’s much more cost-effective to split plants that I already have rather than running to the nursery to buy more stock.

Gorgeous garden that attracts hummingbirds with buckeye, false indigo and alliums on beautiful sunny day

Make Your Own Compost

Instead of tossing food scraps and garden debris, make your own compost with it.

Since it is a good idea to amend your soil yearly with compost anyway, you can save so much money at the garden nursery if you make your own instead of buying it.

It is eco-friendly, provides nourishment for plants, and improves overall garden health.

close up of farmhouse with beautiful front porch buckeye tree, baptisia, hosta and container gardens filled with flowers

Buy Stock in Mid-Late October

This is one of the best-kept secrets. Fall is the best time to buy perennials, shrubs, and trees.

Why?

Because garden nurseries are selling their inventory off before winter. They mark down their stock by 40% and sometimes 50-60% to move it before the ground freezes.

So if you are looking to plant more perennials, shrubs, and trees, hold off buying them until October.

The pickings might be slimmer, but you’ll save a ton of money on plants. Not to mention, it’s much easier to establish plants in the garden when you plant in the fall.

What does that mean?

It’s easier for plants to establish a root system from fall into winter and spring versus going from spring into a hot summer and then fall.

So when I go to plant shrubs and trees, I almost never do it in spring and instead, wait until fall gardening season arrives.

view of our 1850 farmhouse with front porch and beautiful flower gardens from the pool garden with green fence - has roses, bearded iris, buckeye tree, viburnum, and baptisia

Buy Pansies in the Fall

When you buy pansies in fall, they can return in spring depending on your hardiness zone.

So instead of purchasing pansies twice, once in spring – once in fall, only buy them in fall because if left in the ground, they will overwinter and bounce back in spring.

If you aren’t sure whether this will work in your climate, I encourage you to try it in the fall. Instead of pulling them at the end of the season when you do your garden clean up, leave them be.

In spring, see if they start to green up. But give them a little bit of time. They don’t look amazing as soon as spring flowering bulbs emerge from the ground. But you should see a little bit of life on the plant.

Feed them with some fertilizer and let them do their thing!

While there are so many colors to choose from, select pansies that will look good in both fall and in spring.

I typically gravitate to yellows and purples because they not only look great in fall, but also look beautiful with my spring flowers.

close up of purple pansies and violas

Choose Spring Annuals That Will Carry Into Fall

This is a tip that applies more to spring than fall and is similar to what I just mentioned about how to purchase pansies in fall.

When you shop for spring annuals, choose colors that will not only look amazing in spring but also look good in fall.

By doing this, you won’t need to buy as many fall annuals because your spring flowers can do double duty.

Here is a short list of my favorite flowers that you can shop for a spring through fall look in your garden.

There are lots of others, but these plants are pretty easy to find and depending on the color you buy, can transition well between the seasons.

close up of orange marigolds in at sunrise

How to Save Money on Potting Soil

If you use large planters, they can get weighed down if you fill it with a lot of potting soil.

Now, let me stress, how important it is that containers have soil in them so plant roots can grow down.

But some planters are SO big and the root systems of say, summer annuals don’t need to go that deep, that we can cut a few corners to save a little money on potting soil, at least in the first year.

If I’m starting a brand new planter that is quite large, I fill the bottom of that planter with crushed-down nursery pots.

close up of angelonia and superbells in black urn in the flower garden

It’s a great way to reuse them and it helps take up a little bit of space in the bottom of planters while keeping them a bit lighter.

Do no more than 1/4-1/3 depending on the size of the planter and the type of plants you intend to grow.

Because again, plants need soil to grow. So don’t think you can fill it up with pots 3/4 of the way and that your plants will do well, because they won’t.

Fill the planter with potting soil and plant.

Because that soil will need to be freshened up the following year, I tend to pull those nursery pots out in the second year, and then add fresh soil for the next season’s plantings.

close up of whiskey barrel planter with pink geraniums, calibroca, bacopa, latte superwave petunias, euphorbia, coleus and canna lillies

By doing it this way, I can save a little bit of money that first year on potting soil and keep those planters light enough so I can more easily move them around.

Why the Pool Noodle Trick Is Not Helpful

As an aside, I keep seeing home decor and DIY influencers on Instagram and TikTok promoting using pool noodles on the bottom of planters. And I really question why you would spend money on pool noodles specifically for this purpose.

That is a total waste of money. Not to mention, they are overfilling their planters with them. When you do that, there is not enough soil for plants to grow a healthy root system.

If they don’t grow a healthy root system IN SOIL, those plants will decline, die, and you’ll feel like a failure. And leave the experience thinking you can’t grow stuff.

So please do not follow this advice because it is not a good long-term plan if you really want to grow plants in containers. If you are going to spend money on pool noodles, you might as well just fill the whole planter with soil.

And I know the short-form videos look fun and they sound like they know what they are talking about, but they aren’t giving you the best advice.

close up of planter in the zen garden with licorice plant, calibrocha, bacopa, pink geraniums, lemongrass, euphorbia and coleus.

How to Save Money When Filling Raised Garden Beds

If you are putting together raised garden beds, filling them with raised garden bed soil and compost can get quite costly.

To lessen the cost of filling the beds in the first season, fill about 1/4-1/3 of the base with sticks, leaves, small branches and other garden debris.

Then add a layer of cardboard on top to help flatten it down. This garden debris will eventually break down into soil while raising the base of the bed so you can purchase a little less soil this year.

Next, backfill the beds with raised garden bed soil, compost, and humus. And you are ready to plant.

view of my 1850 farmhouse from the potager garden with raised garden beds and outdoor dining table

Keep in mind that you do not want to overfill the beds with garden debris. Use no more than 1/4-1/3 because again, your vegetables, herbs, and flowers will need soil to grow a healthy root system.

But this method does help you spend a little less money. And when you are filling several raised garden beds, it adds up!

When the next gardening season arrives, you’ll notice the filled bed will look a lot less. And that’s because all that garden debris on the bottom broke down (or is still breaking down) into soil.

Before planting in the next season, top off your beds with fresh raised garden bed soil and mushroom compost to give plants a healthy start.

close up of the potager garden raised beds with seedlings and dahlias

Don’t Buy Garden Mums Too Early

This is a big one.

When you see the garden nursery, big box stores and markets put chrysanthemums out in August and early September, resist the temptation to buy them.

Unless you are hosting a party or styling a photo for your social media, it’s not worth buying garden mums that early.

August and even early September are just too hot for them. They are not bred to bloom for long and will only last a few weeks as it is. Add the summer heat too and their lifespan will be even quicker.

When you buy them that early, oftentimes you’ll find them drying out faster and not making more than a few weeks.

This means, you’ll wind up buying them again to get the fall color when you really want the fall color in your garden.

Save your money (and your time) and hold off buying those garden mums until you really need them.

I can’t tell you how many chrysanthemums have gone to waste because I bought them way too early.

The temptation is strong…I know. But resist the urge! You’ll thank me later.

close up of pink garden mums

More About Saving Money at the Garden Nursery

Do you have any budget-friendly gardening tips that you use? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

fall front porch with cottage garden filled with gomphrena, sedum autumn joy and rudbeckia with pumpkins

Want to Learn How to Grow Flowers With Ease?

If you’ve always wanted to grow flowers but struggled with where to start or how to create something beautiful, I got you. I wrote a book that shares all the things you need to know to grow a beautiful and easy-care flower garden.

  • Have you never met a plant you couldn’t kill?
  • Have you dug around in the dirt with nothing to show for it except a sunburn and a sore back?
  • Do you currently enjoy growing flowers, but are looking for more tips and ideas to level up your gardening game?

Then the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Garden Book is for YOU!

the bricks 'n blooms guide to a beautiful and easy-care flower garden

What’s in the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide?

  • Gardening basics to set you up for success
  • Great garden design ideas with ready-made plans for you to follow
  • Easy-care instructions for a wide variety of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs
  • Helpful how-tos for container and cut flower gardening
  • Graphs, charts, and lists to help you stay organized

My book publishes on February 6, 2024, but you can preorder now and get a special pre-order bonus chapter you can’t get when the preorder period closes.

Preorder your copy here and get a free, downloadable guide that shares bonus information with tips and unique garden designs to get year-round color in your landscape. Offer ends 2/5/24.

close up of creme caramel coreopsis

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons

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How to Save Money at the Garden Nursery
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Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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9 Comments

  1. Stacy
    These tips are all so helpful and I agree about the pool noodles. I’ve used packing materials to help fill some of my containers! Thanks for all your tips.