It is possible to spend a lot of money on a garden, but it is not necessary. You can get good results without spending a fortune. After all, plants have been growing in dirt for thousands of years without human help. Start with a few plants from a friend, some broken pottery and a few gallons of compost and you will be well on your way to a beautiful garden.
Start from Seed
A seed packet usually costs less than buying one mature plant. Yes, you will need to invest some time and materials, but it will be worth the effort. Starting plants from seed also allows you to expand your selection beyond what is offered at the local supermarket or garden store.
Annuals such as pansies and impatiens may seem cheap when you are trying to fill out your garden bed, but they will cost you more in the end. Instead of filling your garden beds with annuals, set aside some money from your budget each year for perennials. If you are consistent with this strategy, you will be able to spend less and enjoy your garden more each year.
Divide and Share
Many perennials can be divided in order to produce more plants. The new plants will be smaller, but they will grow in time. In the case of plants such as irises and daylilies, regular division is necessary in order to keep plants blooming. Trade your divisions with your neighbors so that everyone's gardens can flourish.
Do Your Research
Every gardener is entitled to have the occasional fling with an exotic plant that calls her name--but these flings can be expensive. Take the time to research what will grow well in your area, how much sun or shade your intended plant requires and what soil condition it prefers. Once you've made sure that all of these conditions are met, you will know that your money is well spent.
Before you throw something in the trash, consider how it would look in the garden. A broken teapot is not just okay in the garden--it may be ideal because of the added drainage. The stranger the object may be, the more interesting it will look in your garden. On the more practical side, think about alternative seed starting containers like egg cartons and yogurt containers. Save the plastic pots that you get from the nursery to use for transplants. Just make sure that you wash them with a 10 percent bleach solution to kill any pathogens.
Timing is Everything
Although fall is the best time to plant perennials, many gardeners are thinking more about carving up pumpkins than laying out new garden beds. Check out the sales during this time as you will find many nurseries are trying to unload stock before winter. Buy seeds at the end of spring. You will want to check the expiration date on the seed packet, but they are generally viable for more than one year.
Compost and Mulch
In order to keep your garden beds healthy, add compost and mulch on a regular basis. Save your money for plants by making your own compost. You can make your own compost bin out of a few pallets and some fencing. Likewise, you can pile up fall leaves to use as mulch. If you do not have the space or patience to do this yourself, check with the city. Many cities compost their own yard waste and provide it free or at a very low cost.