It's possible to maintain a handsome yard and garden without spending a huge amount of money. With some planning and ingenuity, you can garden for less. Frugal gardening allows you to not only save money, but to do your part to save the planet. You can save on everything from plants to water bills by changing how you garden.
Seek Out Other Gardeners
Gardeners are almost always eager to share ideas. Other gardeners in your area can be a great source of information, and offer opportunities for swapping seeds, cuttings or divisions of perennials. You may be able to arrange the shared purchase of an infrequently used garden tool with a neighbor.
Visit the Library
Free inspiration and information is as close as your local public library. Look for how-to manuals if you need to learn the basics, or want to create a specific type of garden. Borrow some big, lavish "coffee table" gardening books too--they can be a source of new ideas.
Grow From Seeds, Cuttings, or Divisions
Instead of purchasing expensive flats of annuals, try starting them indoors from seed. You can also harvest seeds from many types of plants after they finish blooming. Keep the seeds in a dry, cool place and plant them the next year. Many shrubs and perennials can be started from cuttings. Do a little research to find the best time to make cuttings of your particular plant. Most perennials can be multiplied by division.
Save on Nursery Plants
Large 1-gallon perennials can be prohibitively expensive. If you purchase plants in small nursery pots, provide the best possible culture and add organic material to help them achieve their mature size more quickly. Watch garden centers for sales--often perennials which have finished blooming can be had for a fraction of their original price. They may not look like much, but they'll be beautiful next summer.
Save on Watering Your Lawn
EarthEasy.com recommends giving your lawn a long, thorough soaking, as opposed to a few short sessions with the sprinkler, and using sprinklers in the cool part of the day to avoid evaporation. Avoid sprinkling on windy days. During periods of extended drought, consider allowing your lawn to go dormant. It will quickly green up again when wet weather returns.
Save on Watering Your Garden
Keep your trees, shrubs and garden plants mulched--a mulch adds nutrients to the soil and helps conserve soil moisture. The most efficient way to keep your garden watered is with drip irrigation, using a soaker hose--a porous hose with many small holes--to give plants a slow soaking. The soaker hose can be buried beneath mulch or just left on top of the soil. Some gardeners save rainwater with an old-fashioned rain barrel, then use it as needed in their garden--there are many types available in gardening catalogs.
Avoid having to purchase garden waste bags and fertilizer by starting your own compost pile. Find a spot in the back yard to pile your grass clippings, fallen leaves and any excess plant material. Soon you will have a source of rich organic material to add to your soil or use as mulch.