Gardening needn’t be expensive. Indeed, there are many ways you can save money, from looking after your tools and swapping seeds and plants, to buying only discounted plants from the garden centre. But there are other, less obvious tricks to keep your pounds in check. Browse our list of the best ways to save money while keeping your garden blooming, below.
Buy bare-root plants
Thrifty tips – bare-root plants
Bare-root plants are available in the dormant season only. They’re dug out of the ground when dormant and come without any soil or pot around the roots. They’re much cheaper to buy – saving you around 60 per cent compared to pot-grown plants. You can buy trees, shrubs and some perennials bare-root. They require a little extra care initially to help them establish, but are otherwise easy to plant and grow.
Split perennials when you buy them
Thrifty tips – splitting perennials
Many herbaceous perennials can be divided to make more plants, so when you buy them from the garden centre or nursery, rather than planting them immediately, split them first. Depending on the plant, you can either cut the rootball in half with a bread knife or sharp garden spade, pull the rootball apart or pot on little offsets growing around the main plant. You can also treat supermarket herbs in this way. These will bulk up quickly, providing you with much more than you expected from your initial outlay.
Cut potatoes in half before planting
Thrifty tips – cutting potatoes in half
Before planting seed potatoes, cut each tuber in half to double your crop. Make sure each piece has a couple of buds, from which the stems grow. Allow the cuts to dry before planting.
Join your local gardening group
By joining your local gardening group you can make new friends with whom you can swap seeds and plants. Gardening groups often have plant sales where you can pick up herbaceous perennials and young veg plants for a fraction of the price you would pay for them in a garden centre. What’s more, day trips to gardens and other horticultural attractions may be subject to group discounts, saving you even more money.
There are many bargains to be had by buying plants online. Browse a variety of seed catalogues and nurseries before buying and check for postage discounts or seasonal sales. It’s worth signing up to newsletters from your favourite brands – they will always let you know when they’re running offers and discounted products.
Buy plants from the reduced section
In garden centres, plants that have already flowered and gone to seed, or not been watered thoroughly, may be sold at a discounted price. Often there will be a ‘bargain’ shelf where customers can find a wide range of plants past their best. For gardeners who know what they’re doing, many of these plants can be revived into full health, requiring only a little TLC.
Reuse plastic plant labels
Thrifty tips – using a pencil to mark plant labels
While it’s important to reduce the amount of plastic we use in the garden, we can do our bit by looking after the amount of existing plastic we have, so we don’t have to throw it into landfill. This includes washing seed trays and using a pencil to mark plant labels so they can be reused – this will save you money, too.
Join recycling networks
Join local recycling networks such as Freecyle, Freegle and Gumtree to find gardening equipment for free.
Find out if your council offers discounted products
To incentivise reducing waste and saving water, some councils offer discounts on compost bins and water butts. These can be bought much more cheaply than elsewhere, making you a saving while also providing you with a source of free compost and water. To save even more money, you could make your own compost bin.
Use old net curtains as netting
Rather than investing in expensive netting to protect your cabbages, why not use an old pair of net curtains? Old net curtains have the perfect dense mesh that forms an impenetrable barrier to egg-laying moths and butterflies.
Use toilet rolls as plant pots
Thrifty tips – using toilet roll tubes as pots
Toilet roll tubes make the perfect biodegrabable plant pots. Simply place them in a container and fill with compost, then sow seeds. When the plants are ready to plant out, you can place the toilet roll in the soil. The roots will grow through the wet cardboard as it breaks down, minimising root disturbance.
Use old plastic bottles to make plant labels
Thrifty tips – making plant labels from plastic bottles
Old plastic bottles, particularly opaque ones, can be used to make plant labels. Simply cut the bottle into label-sized pieces and write on them. Use pencil rather than pen to ensure you can reuse the labels next time.
Use old plastic bottle to make cloches
Thrifty tips – using bottle cloches
Old plastic bottles can be put to good use in the veg patch and allotment, helping to create a warm micro-climate around young plants while also protecting them from slugs and snails. Simply cut the ends off them, unscrew the tops and plunge them into the ground. Clean and recycle the bottles after use.
Swap seeds and plants with neighbours
You can save a fortune by swapping plants with friends and neighbours. The more you share with them, the more they’re likely to share with you.
Make a cold frame using a window
Thrifty tips – use an old window to make a cold frame
Cold frames can be expensive to buy. But it’s easy to make your own. Simply source an old window from a scrap yard or similar, and make a frame for it to sit on using old bricks or wood.
Pick up old plant pots from garden centres
Rather than buying new plant pots, see if you can pick up used pots from your local garden centre or gardening club. This will not only save you money but will help reduce use of plastic, too.
Use tin cans to make cane toppers
Old tin cans and plastic bottles can be put to good use by placing them over the tops of canes to protect you from injury when stopping down while gardening.
Reuse old pallets to make garden furniture
Thrifty tips – using pallets to make a bug hotel
Old pallets can be repurposed for many uses in the garden and allotment, such as compost bins, fencing and raised beds. You can also use them creatively to make planters or a bug hotel, pictured.
Don’t impulse buy
It pays to plan ahead when shopping for plants, as you can easily get carried away. Write a list of what you need and have room for before you set out, and don’t succumb to enticing offers on plants you don’t have room or the right growing conditions for.
Look after your tools
Thrifty tips – cleaning secateurs
By cleaning and maintaining your tools, such as secateurs, spades and forks, you will prolong the life of them and avoid having to spend money on new items.