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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to Save Money When Filling Raised Garden Beds
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Want to Learn How to Grow Flowers With Ease?
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- Helpful how-tos for container and cut flower gardening
- Graphs, charts, and lists to help you stay organized
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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.
- I like to use good-quality garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use to get underneath roots, loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I like to use THIS ORGANIC FERTILIZER for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- You need a sharp set of pruners and garden snips when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
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.
- 5 Quick Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden
- Easy-Care Cottage Garden Ideas
- Flower Garden Ideas for the Front Porch
- Why and How to Divide Perennials
- Perennials vs Annuals
- Flowers that Bloom in Midsummer
- How My Cottage Garden Grew in 2021
- Cut Flower Gardening for Beginners
- The Complete Guide to Roses Care
- The Basics of Hydrangea Care
- Everblooming Cottage Garden Design Ideas
- The Secret to Growing an Everblooming Cottage Garden
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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo