Just because your budget is tight doesn't mean you can't enjoy a colorful, healthy and productive garden. With a small amount of imagination and effort, you can save money on the basics like tools and plants, improve your soil and learn new skills. Thrifty garden ideas help you spend your money wisely so you can enjoy your garden more.
Buy trees and shrubs in early fall. Nurseries often discount shrubs and trees sharply beginning in late summer, even though in many parts of the country, fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Watch your local paper and community websites for plant swap announcements. Plant swaps are a source of free or inexpensive plants and give you the chance to re-home some of your excess plants. Buy your bedding plants as late in the season as possible to take advantage of lower prices, and plan to overwinter some for even greater savings next summer.
The right garden tools make your work easier. Shop late summer sales for discounts on garden tools. Hit the yard sales early in the morning to look for tools---they are a hot item at most sales and tend to sell quickly. Before you purchase a big-ticket, limited use item like a wood chipper or log splitter, do the math. It may be a better value to rent once or twice a year rather than incur the high cost of purchase and maintenance.
Your garbage is valuable. Learn how to compost your kitchen waste and yard debris to create a free, nutrient-rich soil amendment. If you live near any type of livestock farm, consider offering to cart away some manure, an excellent and easy-to-compost materials. Visit your local coffee house for free coffee grounds, an excellent soil acidifier.
Flea markets, junk yards and tag sales are the thrifty gardener's best friends. Don't limit your shopping to traditional garden tools. Be imaginative--an old metal bed frame can be a trellis and a cast-off tractor tire can be transformed into a raised planting bed.
Fertilizers and Chemicals
Test your soil to be sure you need to apply fertilizers, chemicals and other soil amendments. Tests are available at nurseries and garden centers. When using fertilizers and chemicals, read label directions and measure carefully so you don't use more than you need; a lot of people over-do it, which wastes money.
Free Info and Classes
Read your local paper and watch community bulletin boards for garden club and agricultural extension classes. These free or inexpensive classes and seminars are conducted by experts in the gardening and landscaping fields. Many home centers offer garden and home improvement classes and offer discounts on the materials needed to complete the projects at home.