Sunday, October 05, 2008

How to Garden on a Budget: Four Ideas to Reduce Spending in a Recession (Updated)

Well, even if Congress does manage to pass the Paulson Plan, it seems like the economy may still be headed for a recession. My husband and I are actively speaking about how we can reduce our spending, so here are four ideas related to gardening:

1. Reduce spending at the gardening center/plant nursery.

a. To the extent possible, reduce the number of plants you buy: take divisions and cuttings from your own plants; grow plants from seed; over-winter tropical and non-hardy plants, bulbs, and tubers; and/or barter for plants with your friends.

b. When you do buy plants, choose them wisely: avoid the new cultivars which are usually more expensive and buy tried and true or heirloom cultivars; buy the smaller, less expensive specimens and let them grow to their full size; and/or buy them in the off-season when they are no longer in bloom and the nurseries are usually happy to move them out of their inventory.

c. Instead of buying ready-made containers and hanging baskets, create your own. You can even re-use last year's potting soil by refreshing it with soil amendments.

d. Make your own compost and mulch.

e. Consider building your own flower/vegetable boxes.

f. Be a faithful, regular, friendly customer. In my experience as a well-known customer on a first name basis with all of the help, my local garden center offers me specials and discounts on volume purchases.

2. Reduce spending with the landscaping company. It's expensive to hire someone else to install plants, mulch beds, pull weeds, and/or do any number of gardening chores. Sure, it's more work to do it yourself, but you'll save a lot of money and probably do a better job. You can get your spouse ("we'll save money") and/or children ("I'll pay you") to help.

3. Reduce spending at the grocery store/florist. You can grow your own food or shop at the farmers' market. You can grow and cut your own flowers.

4. Reduce spending on entertainment. If you make your home and garden a more desirable place to quietly relax, play with your children, and/or entertain guests, you are guaranteed to spend less money going out.


Kathleen said...

I spent the morning on your blog and found it very enjoyable.I love my gardens too.

JGH said...

Great tips, HG. Do you guys have Freecycle out there in Chatham? I've posted "offers" and "wanteds" for plants and found it a great way to meet other gardners and save money by trading.

mr_subjunctive said...

All good ideas, though as a garden center employee, I gotta say I wouldn't bet on item 1f. It's not that we wouldn't want to, but the economy's hitting us hard too.

heirloomgardener said...


I've never heard of freecycle, but that sounds like a great idea. There isn't one in Chatham, but it looks like there are some nearby. Thanks for the tip.


heirloomgardener said...

Mr. Subjunctive,

I really hope that didn't come off the wrong way. I'm a very regular (perhaps their most regular) customer at my local garden center and they actually offered a volume discount to me (without me asking).


Tim and Lisa Reitz said...

Great site! We are learning more about heirloom gardening and your site it fascinating! One of the best things I've found about being a thrifty gardener is having friends/family who also garden. You can share leftovers of vegetables, share seeds, share plants when they begin to overgrow, etc. It almost pains me to think of buying some of the plants that I did for our landscaping. Thank you for sharing your tips on saving on gardening! I know I will be looking for many ways to stay thrifty, in these times and even in a good economy! -Lisa (

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