Gardening can be both time-consuming and expensive. Whether your garden produces fruits and vegetables, or is more decorative in nature, with flowers and shrubs, there can be a lot of upkeep. This may require multiple trips to the garden center, or nursery, for the appropriate plants and supplies. The time and money spent on those trips can really add up if you're not careful and don't pay attention to store offers and savings. So what should you do if you want to cut the costs and labor involved in your gardening process, while still maintaining a lovely or useful garden? The following are a few gardening tips that will save you time, money, or both.
- Start from seeds: This is more of a money-saver, but can be a time-saver if you pick the right plants. Seed packets are less expensive than potted plants, so if you plan your garden using seeds, you will save. The University of Illinois Extension published an article, Gardening on a Budget, which explains that some varieties of perennials, like coreopsis and gaillardia, will bloom the first year if they are planted directly into the garden from seeds. You can also sow seeds for annuals, like cosmos and bachelor button, among your perennials. These plants will reseed themselves for several years, which means you won’t have to go out and buy more seeds or plants each year, and you won’t have to spend as much time planting.
- Compost: Composting is a way to save on expensive fertilizers. According to Mother Earth News, you should try not to waste any of your food scraps, or yard waste, as it all can become part of your compost. There is satisfaction in knowing you used everything you could, to minimize waste and save money. You can also save time by digging trenches in your vegetable garden to throw your scraps into, thus composting on the spot. This is a great tip to follow to not only save a little green, but go green!
- Use Mulch: SanDiego.gov explains that using mulch has more than a purely decorative purpose. Mulch is generally used to protect the surface of the soil and allow air and water to get through. Mulching can also lower your water bill, because it helps to maintain the moisture of the soil, so you will need to water less often. And it reduces the need to weed regularly, which cuts the amount of time you actually have to be working in your garden. Mother Earth News suggests saving fallen leaves for use as mulch later. You have to rake those leaves in autumn anyway, why not put them to use in a way that will cut out the cost of store-bought mulch.
Keeping your garden healthy can seem like a never-ending chore that can put a real dent in your wallet. It’s true that you have to invest some time and money to maintain a garden. But there are ways you can save on both. By starting from seeds, and using what you have to compost and mulch, you will cut back on money spent and save time as well.
This piece was written and contributed by Elizabeth Baker of Frugal Dad.
Thanks, Elizabeth! - Bonnie