31 Tips for Starting Your New Garden on a Budget

Are you excited about starting a new garden but intimidated by the potential cost? There are plenty of practical ways you can save money on your gardening project. Join thrifty gardening expert Liessa Bowen as she shares some of her favorite tips for gardening on a budget.

budget gardening. Close-up of a female gardener in denim overalls and a red plaid shirt digging soil in a garden bed using a garden trowel. The garden bed contains rows of Swiss Chard plants. Swiss chard plants showcase a vibrant and striking appearance with large, glossy bright green leaves and strong, succulent pale green stems.


Starting a new garden can be a costly endeavor, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. You can grow a great garden on a tight budget. There are a lot of creative ways to save money on your garden during each stage of your landscaping project.

If you love saving money, you will find plenty of opportunities to save. There is an abundance of free resources to help you in your gardening journey. Gather gardening ideas, inspiration, and wisdom from books, the internet, and talking with fellow gardeners. Obtain some free plants and learn ways to save money on others. Learn to make your own compost and find free mulch. Make budget-conscious decisions about your gardening tools and supplies.

With a bit of patience, creativity, and resourcefulness, you can start a vegetable garden or flower garden with very little initial investment. Work on your project slowly and carefully to maximize your savings over time. Expect to spend some money on your new garden, but if you’re careful, you may save a ton of cash. 

Read on for a bunch of useful and economical tips to help you save money as you start your gardening project.

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Walk Around Your Neighborhood

View of a woman watering her garden beds with a hose with a spray nozzle. The woman is wearing blue jeans and a beige shirt. The garden is surrounded by a wooden fence and contains wooden raised beds with various crops.
Stroll your neighborhood for inspiration, ideas, and cost-free knowledge.

You can get some amazing ideas, as well as fresh air and exercise, by taking a walk around your neighborhood. This is a great opportunity to get inspired and collect plenty of ideas. Observe what your neighbors are growing in their yards, and you will learn what grows successfully in your area. You’ll also see what types of landscaping styles work in your regional climate. And all the observations you make are absolutely free!

You will also get an idea of what does not grow well in your area. For example, when I walk through my neighborhood, I see that many people are trying to grow hostas, but all the hostas are chewed down to the ground.

Hostas are beautiful plants, but deer love to eat them. I know there are deer in my neighborhood, and since the deer have clearly enjoyed munching on my neighborhood hostas, I can save myself the time, effort, and expense of buying any hostas to feed the deer that wander through my yard. 

Talk to Your Neighbors

Two women gardeners communicate against the backdrop of the garden. The older woman is wearing a beige Panama hat, a blue shirt and plaid trousers. The younger woman is wearing a white striped T-shirt and light blue jeans.
Connect with gardening neighbors for tips and plant-sharing joy!

People who enjoy gardening often enjoy talking with other garden enthusiasts. If you tell your gardening neighbors that you’re planning to start a new garden, they will often offer you some tips and maybe even offer you some plant divisions to help you get started!

This is a good opportunity to ask other people what they have growing in their yards and whether these plants are easy to grow or require more maintenance. I have met multiple gardening neighbors who have graciously offered to share plants with me, as well as tips and advice.

Join a Garden Club

Close-up of four pairs of hands holding young seedlings with soil. These seedlings have thin vertical stems covered with abundant small leaves. These leaves are narrow, oval-shaped, dark green in color with a glossy texture.
Join a gardening club for a wealth of green knowledge.

Joining a gardening club is another excellent way to start learning the ropes. Gardening clubs offer abundant access to ideas, resources, and enthusiasm. Some garden clubs may have additional benefits, such as learning opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and plant swaps. You will have plenty of opportunities to socialize with other gardeners and swap not only plants but also a wealth of knowledge and camaraderie.

Participate in Plant Swaps

Two young stylish farmers, a man and a woman, harvesting crops in a garden with raised beds. The woman is wearing white pants, an orange shirt and a multi-colored scarf. The man is wearing white checkered trousers, a blue shirt and a hat. In their hands they hold a basket and a wooden box with freshly picked vegetables and herbs.
Discover free plants and new friends at plant swaps!

A plant swap is exactly what it sounds like. People who have extra plant divisions, cuttings, or seeds will bring them to the swap and offer them free to others. If you are just starting out and don’t have any extra plants to share just yet, don’t worry. Seasoned gardeners are usually happy to help out a newbie!  

Keep an eye out for plant swap announcements. If you see a free plant swap in your area, take advantage not only of the opportunity to get some free plants but also another excellent opportunity to meet some fellow gardeners. But don’t take more than you need. Usually, a few seeds, seedlings, cuttings, and divisions are plenty to help you start growing your own garden plot.

Take a Field Trip

Three multiracial farmer women laughing in the garden during harvest. The women are dressed in multi-colored plaid shirts, jean suits and denim overalls. In their hands they hold a basket and two wooden boxes with freshly picked vegetables.
Explore local gardens for endless gardening inspiration.

Check out locations in your area to learn more about plants and gardening. The library is an amazing free community resource. Borrow an armload of books from your local library with nothing but your library card. Most libraries have an ample selection of gardening books. Here, you’ll find many fantastic references for ideas, growing guides, landscaping tips, and much more.

If you discover a book you absolutely love, buy it later for your own personal library. Check out second-hand stores for cheap books, too. I always see gardening books at my local thrift store.

Other amazing resources include community gardens, botanical gardens, arboretums, local greenhouses, and even the local farmer’s market. Visit places that feature both gardens and gardeners. You’ll soon have a wealth of ideas about what successfully grows in your area and which seasons are peak for certain plants. The more places you visit and people you talk with, the more you will likely encounter further resources.

Start Small

Close-up of a container garden with clay pots and herb plants. On a wooden surface there are clay pots of different sizes, potted plants of Lemon thyme, Basil, Lettuce, Rosemary and Peppermint. Gardening gloves lie on the pot. A black garden trowel and red pruning shears lie nearby.
Begin small, grow sustainably, and enjoy the gardening journey.

There’s really no need to create a giant garden all at once. The most economical way to get started is to start small and work your way up. This also allows you to focus on a small part of your garden each year and not be overwhelmed all at once by designing, creating, and maintaining a larger garden plot.

You can start as small as a single potted plant. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try a container garden where you grow two or three different plants in a large container. Want to go a step further? Start a raised bed garden.

Raised beds are a fantastic gardening tool that allow you to create ideal conditions in a small area and maintain a sustainable garden system for as long as you want. You can expand one raised bed at a time as your space, energy, and funds allow.

Start Plants From Seed

Close-up of woman's hands planting tiny seeds in a starting tray. The starting tray is black, plastic, and consists of recessed cells filled with soil.
Grow your garden from seeds for variety and savings!

Starting plants from seed is one of the most economical ways to grow a plant. You can generally buy an entire pack of seeds for the same price as a single plant. If you buy a pack of seeds but don’t plant them all at once, save your seed pack for several years, planting the seeds as needed until you run out of seeds. Most seeds are viable for at least two or three years, sometimes even longer, before their germination rates decline.

Starting seeds offers another wonderful advantage as well. There are many more varieties of seeds than potted plants at your local garden center. Tomatoes are a perfect example. The garden center may carry five or six varieties of tomato, but you will easily find over 20 colorful and delicious tomatoes of all types that grow from seed. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s incredibly fun and rewarding to start your own plants from seeds. 

Do it Yourself

Close-up of a small vegetable garden in full sun. Various types of lettuce, purple-leaf Bok choy, beets, onions and other vegetables grow on a raised wooden bed.
Craft your garden with creativity and self-satisfaction on a budget.

Landscape designers and lawn maintenance crews provide valuable services, but budget gardeners will be more interested in doing their own work. You don’t even need someone else to design, plan, or implement your new garden. This is something that anyone can do on their own. There’s no right or wrong way to design a garden because gardens come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. 

Set yourself up for success by doing plenty of advance planning and preparation. Start by utilizing free services, such as the library and gardening clubs; these can be valuable sources of information and ideas. Then, with some basic tools, start small and begin building a beautiful garden plot. It won’t cost much money, and you will have the immense satisfaction of knowing that you created your garden yourself.

Plan Ahead

Close-up of male hands planting a young Kohlrabi sapling in a sunny garden. Kohlrabi seedlings are characterized by their unique appearance, sporting a rosette of rounded, light green leaves that emerge from a central stem. These stems are purple in color.
Plan wisely to nurture your dream garden affordably and efficiently!

Good advance planning will help you save a lot of money. Start by thinking about what your end project might look like. What kind of garden do you want to nurture? How large do you ultimately want it to be? Will it require trees, shrubs, annuals, or perennials? What types of materials will you require? Do you have specific timeline goals for your project?

Any of these questions that you’re able to answer will help you envision and develop a process. Make a list of what you will need and sketch out some ideas for your plan. A well-planned project will save you time, frustration, and cost. If you run out and buy plants without having a plan, you will most likely find yourself having wasted both time and money. Establish realistic goals and map out what you hope to accomplish each year. 

Location, Location, Location!

Close-up of a vegetable garden in full sun. Rows of green onions, beets, spinach and others grow in the beds. The soil is mulched with dry grass. The garden bed has a drip irrigation system.
Choose the right location to flourish with minimal costs.

It’s very true – location is tremendously important. By choosing the best available location for your garden, you will not only help keep your costs to a minimum, but you will also have a thriving landscape.

It’s easier to match your plants and garden to your existing landscape than to alter the landscape to match the plants. If you want a vegetable garden, for example, you’ll need a location with full sun. If your yard is very shady, you’ll be better off planning for and growing a beautiful shade garden. Do you live in a hot, dry climate? Do you live in a cold climate? Learn about your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and grow the plants that are best adapted to thrive there.

Take it Slow

Close-up of a male gardener planting a small bush of blooming roses in the garden. A gardener in purple gloves pours soil with a shovel into a hole with a freshly planted rose bush. The rose bush blooms with small pink flowers in the shape of a classic rose with double petals.
Grow your garden gradually, enjoying each step along the way.

Designing and establishing a new garden takes time. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to do everything all at once, nor do you need to. Instead, prioritize your gardening needs and focus on one step at a time. By taking it slow, you give yourself time to think, time to plan, and plenty of time to budget your finances. You’ll also discover that things you thought you might need turned out to be unnecessary, saving you some money. 

Start with just a few plants and then expand from there. I once started a perennial flower garden with a few pretty flowers around my mailbox. Each year, I expanded my garden by a few feet, slowly converting my grassy lawn into a flower and vegetable garden.

As my established plants filled in, I had plenty of time to decide what I wanted to grow next. I also never felt overwhelmed by caring for a large, brand-new garden. I eventually had to stop expanding because I ran out of space, but I loved the process of building my garden one small expansion at a time.

Use Space Efficiently

Close-up of a small compact garden with raised beds and hanging pots on a tall white fence. Raised beds are wooden, white, with installed supports for climbing plants. Various vegetable crops such as onions, lettuce, carrots, beets, beans, and others grow in the beds. Various flowering plants grow in the flower beds near the fence.
Maximize small spaces for budget-friendly, efficient gardening.

You can pack a lot of gardening into a relatively small space. A small garden is naturally budget-friendly, as larger gardens simply use more plants, more supplies, and more resources. But whether your garden is large or small, focus on using your available space efficiently.

For vegetable gardening, learn about interplanting and square-foot gardening. You can use these two intensive gardening methods to help you maximize your production. Vertical gardening is another method that can save you a lot of space. By training any vining or climbing plant to grow upwards on trellises, you’ll grow more plants closer together. 

Grow Perennials

View of a magnificent perennial garden in sunlight. The garden contains a variety of perennials including yellow spirea japonica, pink astilbe, white-flowered hydrangea, Juniper, fir-tree and others.
Invest in perennials and fruiting trees for lasting beauty and bounty.

If you are planning a vegetable garden, you will be working primarily with annual plants. If, however, you are planning a flower garden, perennials will give you the most bang for your buck. Long-lived perennial plants will also multiply and fill in their plot, allowing you to divide them and populate other areas with free plants.

Don’t forget about trees and shrubs. While these hardy plants may have a greater initial investment, they will also be a long-term addition to your landscape. Do you love blueberries? Plant a few blueberry shrubs, and you will soon be able to enjoy fresh blueberries from your own mini pick-your-own farm! Many fruiting trees and shrubs make excellent investments as both ornamental landscape plants and a source of food.

Learn to Propagate

Close-up of female hands with hydrangea cuttings against the background of black plastic pots. Hydrangea cuttings are woody, with roots and oval, green leaves with finely serrated edges and pointed tips.
Grow your garden and save with plant propagation!

Propagating your own plants can save you a ton of money! To get started, take cuttings or divisions of other people’s plants, with permission of course. Once you get your own plants started, take cuttings and divisions of your plants to increase your garden spread. You can also take your propagated plants to plant swaps and trade them for other varieties to further diversify your garden.

Taking cuttings is incredibly easy. Some plants, such as basil, Cuban oregano, and coleus, for example, root very quickly in water or a pot of moist soil. Take cuttings of these frost-sensitive plants and overwinter them indoors. Then, in the following spring, transplant them outside again. Keep your plants going for years using repeated cuttings, and never have to buy new plants!

Collect and Save Seeds

Close-up of woman's hands pouring chive seeds collected from dry flower heads into a white paper bag for preservation. Dry chive seed heads are characterized by slender, elongated stems topped with spherical clusters of tiny, dark brown to black seeds. Each seed head is composed of numerous individual seeds tightly packed together.
Grow your garden from saved seeds and shared treasures!

Many fruits, vegetables, and flowers can be easily grown from seed. And you don’t always need to buy fresh packs of seeds because you can learn to save your own! Any time you pick a ripe tomato, pepper, or squash, it’s filled with viable seeds that you can use to grow new plants the following year. 

It’s also extremely easy to collect and grow your own flower seeds. Most annual and perennial flowering plants will produce viable seeds. A few plants require special seed storage or germination conditions, but overall, if you collect the seeds, you can grow more of the same plant. Be aware, however, that self-collected seeds may be the result of cross-pollination. If you collect seeds from a red zinnia, for example, there’s no guarantee that all the resulting seedlings will produce red flowers, but that’s okay. Zinnias are beautiful in every color!

Another way to save your own seeds is to get to know other gardeners. Does your neighbor have zinnias growing in their yard? Ask to collect a few seed heads. They will probably be more than happy to share with you. Similarly, share your seeds with neighbors. Everyone benefits by saving money and increasing their plant collection. 

Buy Plants on Sale

Close-up of a woman in a powder sweater holding a wicker basket buying plant seedlings at a farm center. On the counter there are many potted African daisies with blooming bright pink flowers with yellow centers. There are rosemary and pepper seedlings in a wicker basket.
Score plant bargains in spring and fall for thriving gardens!

Look for great deals at garden centers, nurseries, and even farm stands. Spring and fall are great times for gardening, and you can often find perennial plants on sale during these seasons. Late fall, especially, is a prime season for garden centers to reduce their inventory before the winter months, and you can sometimes find great money-saving deals on plants.

Fortunately, spring and fall are also excellent times for planting. Transplanting perennials in the spring will jump-start your gardening year. Planting in the fall will allow your perennials to overwinter in their new home and then emerge in the spring, ready to take off with fresh vigor. If you see annual plants marked at a deep discount in the fall, skip these. They will die as soon as the first frost hits, so it’s safer to stick with perennials for fall planting.

Use Budget-wise Plants

Close-up of a small raised bed with lettuce, arugula and carrot plants growing. Lettuce plants produce rosettes of large oval leaves with smooth edges and a bright green color. Carrot plants showcase a distinctive appearance with feathery, fern-like foliage composed of finely divided leaves that emerge from a central stem.
Opt for budget-friendly, high-yield vegetables for efficient gardening.

Some plants are simply more budget-friendly than others. Artichokes, for example, are fun and interesting to grow, but each individual artichoke plant takes a long time to grow and requires a lot of space. In that same space as a single artichoke, you could grow several heads of lettuce, a bunch of carrots, or a couple of different herbs.

If you have extra space in your vegetable garden, go ahead and grow some artichokes, but if you are trying to squeeze the most economy from a small space, plant fast-growing, prolific vegetables instead.

Practice Succession Planting

Close-up of a female gardener in beige pants and a denim shirt watering a garden bed with a large metal watering can. Pepper and tomato plants grow in rows on a raised bed.
Maximize space and yield with succession gardening throughout seasons.

Another way to maximize your space is to practice succession gardening. What does this mean? Succession planting is a gardening technique that maximizes your yield throughout the growing season. In short, it can allow you to grow a lot of produce in a relatively small space.

For example, let’s say you want to start a small vegetable garden. In the spring, plant a few fast-growing, early-season crops like peas and carrots. As soon as you harvest the peas and carrots, plant your mid-season, heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers. Then, when the tomato and pepper plants are past their prime, plant another round of cool-season crops, such as lettuce and kale. 

Extend your growing season even longer by using a small enclosure, a temporary greenhouse, and floating row covers. Wouldn’t you love to prolong your cool-season harvest into the late fall and winter months? You can build an inexpensive enclosure to grow more plants longer!

Turn Kitchen Scraps into New Plants

Close-up of collecting seeds from sweet peppers in the kitchen. Female hands pick seeds from pepper on a paper sheet. On the table there is a wicker bowl with ripe red and yellow bell peppers. There is also a knife and a cutting board on the table. Pepper seeds are tiny, flat, oval-shaped, and light cream in color.
Turn kitchen scraps into thriving, cost-free garden treasures!

Did you know that you can grow free plants from kitchen scraps? Many fruits and vegetables that you buy from the grocery store contain viable seeds to save and grow! Collect and grow seeds from store-bought tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, butternut squash, and more. You can also grow an entire new head of garlic from a single clove, grow a ginger plant from a section of ginger root, and start multiple new sweet potato plants from a single sweet potato tuber. 

If you want to think larger than a tomato plant, you can also grow an entire fruit tree from produce scraps as well. Plant a cherry pit, lemon seed, peach pit, or apple seed to grow your own fruit tree.

Be aware, however, that any seed you plant is the result of cross-pollination, so you won’t know the genetic character of the plant you will grow. This may not matter too much for a fast-growing annual like a tomato, but if you want to be a serious fruit tree grower, you might want to stick with high-quality nursery-grown fruit trees to start your apple orchard.

Grow Cover Crops for Mulch

Close-up of Red clover ground cover in bloom. This plant presents a picturesque sight with its dense clusters of vibrant pink flowers atop slender, branching stems rising from a basal rosette of trifoliate leaves.
Boost soil quality inexpensively with cover crop gardening.

Quality organic mulch and compost can be expensive. But for the cost of a pack of seeds, you can grow cover crops during the off-season and turn these cover crops into your garden beds to create a nutritious organic soil enhancement.

Cover crops include several fast-growing plants, including red clover, peas, hairy vetch, and oats. These plants do a lot of hard work to improve the health of your garden soil. They will help fix nitrogen, bring nutrients to the soil surface, and improve soil quality and texture. Growing cover crops is very easy and economical and an excellent way to boost the quality of your garden soil.

Save Your Leaves

Close-up of a female gardener raking dry leaves and fallen dry pine needles with a large garden fork. A pile of fallen pine needles and leaves of decorative grapes lies in front of the fence.
Utilize free natural mulches like fallen leaves and pine needles.

Save a lot of money by using natural mulches that you may have access to for free. Rather than spending money on bagged mulches, look around your yard. Do you have trees that drop leaves and needles? Raking up tree leaves and pine needles is an excellent source of free mulch materials that can be used in and around your garden. 

Use these materials when freshly collected for making pathways, or create a leaf pile and let that partially decompose for later use in your garden. Use leaves to help enrich your compost pile. Enlist your lawn mower to help with the process too. Does your lawn mower shred and bag leaves? Don’t just toss them away. Rather than disposing of these materials, gather them and use them yourself!

Use Free Mulch

Close-up of a gardener with a bag full of wood chips in the garden. Wood chips feature various-sized pieces of wood bark or branches that are brown or tan in color. The gardener is wearing white gloves and a gray jacket.
Score free mulch from city programs or tree-cutting companies.

There are a few different ways you might have access to free mulch. Some cities, towns, and communities offer residents free mulch. This is typically yard waste that has been collected, aged, and then offered back to the community. Check with your local solid waste collection department to see if they offer free mulch. 

Another free mulch option is wood chips. Many tree-cutting companies will happily deliver a dump truckload of wood chips to your driveway. If you or your neighbors are having trees removed and the company has a chipper, ask if they can leave the wood chips for you. You may end up with more than you can use, but these free wood chips can be a great way to create walkways, edges, and borders or cover up unsightly areas of bare soil.

Make Your Own Compost

Close-up of a man holding a bowl of various kitchen scraps in front of a compost bin in the garden. The bowl contains various waste from fruits, vegetables, eggshell, coffee grounds and others.
Transform kitchen waste into rich compost for thriving gardens.

Making your own compost is an excellent opportunity to turn your kitchen scraps into nutritious garden nutrients. Turn any fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds, and even egg shells into compost. This also helps reduce waste and keeps these items out of your trash. Add leaves, grass clippings, and straw to make even more compost for your garden. 

Composting is a very simple process. Basically, you gather your kitchen scraps, mix them together, and allow them to break down. Sounds simple enough, right? As these organic materials decompose, you will create a product known as compost. Compost is a nutrient-rich soil amendment to mix in with your garden soil. Compost adds nutrients to the soil, improves your soil quality, and will help turn any average garden soil into a high-quality home for your garden plants.

DIY Compost Bin

Close-up of two wooden compost bins in a sunny garden. A wood compost bin presents a sturdy and rustic appearance, crafted from wooden planks arranged in a square shape. They are half filled with garden waste from dry branches, leaves and grass.
Make budget-friendly compost with DIY systems from everyday materials.

There are a lot of very fancy and very expensive composting systems available to help you make compost. The good news for the thrifty gardener is that you don’t actually need an official compost bin to make perfect compost. It’s possible to design a complete composting system with very little money or effort. 

To be perfectly honest, you don’t even need a bin at all. When I was growing up, my dad created a compost pile. It was, exactly as it sounds, a pile of compost in one corner of the garden, which served our family’s composting needs for over 20 years! Create an inexpensive upgrade to your compost pile by creating a round wire fence cage and putting your compost in here. This will help keep your compost pile better contained.

There are many other composting options as well. Create a compost system by drilling holes into a recycled plastic bin. You can create a compost system using recycled wood pallets. You can even drill holes into an old plastic trash can. If you want to get fancy with your DIY compost, try vermiculture and let worms break down your kitchen scraps even faster!

Build Your Own Trellis

Close-up shot of a raised bed with growing tomato plants in a garden. These plants climb up established trellis of bamboo poles. Tomato plants boast a lush and vibrant appearance with deep green, serrated leaves that grow alternately along fuzzy stems. These stems support clusters of round-shaped fruits with shiny green skin.
Craft budget-friendly trellises from found materials for climbing plants.

Do you have climbing plants such as ornamental vines, peas, or squash? You don’t need to invest in an expensive store-bought trellis for your vines. Build your own sturdy trellis system with materials on hand or other inexpensive options. Many types of trellis have an initial cost, but these can be used year after year, even many budget options easily lasting for many years.

Use sturdy sticks or bamboo poles to create an upright structure. Then use sturdy twine to tie your poles together or create horizontal lines for your plants to climb on. Use PVC pipes, rebar, conduit pipes, various wood scraps, and lumber to create an amazing array of different trellises. Another option is to use fence panels or cattle panels (a type of sturdy, pre-cut fencing) to devise attractive and very functional trellises for your climbing plants. 

Save on Creative Decor

Funny garden gnome against the backdrop of a blooming garden. A garden gnome statue features a whimsical and charming appearance, portraying a small humanoid figure with a pointy hat, colored clothing, and a mischievous expression.
Start with essentials, then repurpose or craft decorative items economically.

You can spend a lot of money on decorative garden supplies. First, ask yourself which supplies you actually need and prioritize your spending on the items you need most. There’s no need to add expensive decorations right away, either. Get your garden started on a tight budget by focusing on the basics, then add decorative items in the future.

Check for ways to repurpose decorative items for use in your garden. Do you want stones or statues? Try to find these items on sale. Check thrift stores, visit yard sales, or make your own! If you like to create art, add some decorative handmade items to your garden, such as painted stones or weather-resistant sculptures.

Repurposed Container Garden

Close-up of succulent plants growing in flower pots repurposed from old buckets and pans. All pots come in different sizes, colors and shapes. Succulents such as Euphorbia flanaganii, Red pagoda, echeveria and others grow in pots.
Transform everyday items into versatile container gardens for easy gardening.

Container gardening is an excellent way to create a small garden with very little effort. But what can you use as a container? You might be surprised how many things you can use for a container garden! Garden planters should be large enough to support a plant throughout the growing season. You need enough space for your plant to develop a healthy root system, and the container should be solid enough not to tip over as your plant grows larger.

Look for any type of sturdy tub, barrel, bucket, or large pot to grow plants in. You may have some large, unused containers at home, or you might find something useful at a thrift store. For example, if you have an extra 5-gallon bucket, drill holes in the bottom, fill it with soil, and grow a tomato plant in it. Reuse inexpensive nursery pots from trees and shrubs. Get creative, look around, and see what other large containers you can find.

Recycle seed containers 

Close-up of young tomato seedlings sprouted in a carton chicken egg box. The egg carton is yellow in color and has oval cells filled with soil. Tomato seedlings are characterized by thin, slightly hairy stems and pairs of cotyledons and true leaves.
Reuse containers for budget-friendly seed starting and gardening.

Another way to recycle containers is to reuse small containers for starting seeds and cuttings. Small yogurt cups, egg cartons, and even toilet paper tubes can make extremely economical seed-starting containers. All you really need to start seeds is a small container with a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Upgrade anytime to something fancier and more durable, but when you’re on a budget, there are bountiful options.

I find myself saving all sorts of little plastic containers for seed starting, but small yogurt cups are my personal favorite. I poke holes in the bottom and reuse them for several years. If you use paper egg cartons or paper tubes to start seeds, plant your seedling with its biodegradable container directly in the ground!

Use a Rain Barrel

Close-up of a rain barrel in a garden against the backdrop of beds with various crops growing. A rain barrel presents a large cylindrical container made from durable plastic in bright blue color. This barrel is filled with rainwater.
Save on water bills with a budget-friendly rainwater solution.

While buying a rain barrel can seem like a splurge, it is also an excellent way to save money on your water bill. You can, however, also save money on the rain barrel itself. Look for used rain barrels and opportunities to buy one on sale.

You don’t even need an actual rain barrel. You can also make your own system to capture and use rainwater. Before you start to gather rainwater, however, check to be sure your state doesn’t have any restrictions on the collection and use of rainwater.

Purchase Tools Wisely 

Close-up of gardening tools on a wooden surface. There are such gardening tools as white gardening gloves with wide green elastic bands on the wrists and green and yellow patterns, a trowel, a digging fork and clippers with black handles.
Start with essential gardening tools to avoid unnecessary purchases.

If you visit a garden center, you can be quickly overwhelmed by the vast array of gardening tools and gadgets available. Do you really need all those things? No, of course not. If you’ve never gardened before, it can be hard to figure out what you need first, but there are a few basic tools that every gardener should have.

The first garden tool to buy is a pair of comfortable gardening gloves to protect your hands while working with plants, tools, bugs, and plenty of dirt. Next on your list will probably be a trowel for small digging projects. If you’re working with anything larger than a container garden, you will also appreciate a shovel and a digging fork. Finally, a basic pruning tool, like a comfortable and sturdy set of clippers, is also very handy.

These are the tools I use the most often. A good rule of thumb to help prevent unnecessary tool purchases is to wait until you actually need something before buying it. This will help prevent you from spending a bunch of money on tools you may never use.

Grow Native Plants

View of the garden with blooming native plants. The following plants are blooming in the flower bed: Monarda 'Jacob Cline' (Bee Balm), Yellow Coneflower, Dense blazing star, Joe Pye Weed and others.
Save money and support nature with native plant gardening!

Gardening with native plants is a surprisingly good way to save money on your perennial flower garden. Many native plants can be easily started from seed, which we already know is a good way to save money on plants. Native perennials are naturally well adapted to their natural regions and will be long-lived and productive, helping you save dollars by only needing to buy them once.

Native plants also generally don’t require any extra fertilizers or insecticides, so you can save a ton of money on plant care and maintenance. Not only will you save money when you grow native plants, but you’ll also give back to the natural environment. Native plants support pollinators and wildlife and are super easy to grow. Plus, they’re beautiful!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many ways you can save money in your garden. Basically, just remember these key tips. Take it slow. You don’t need to do it all at once. Use any and all free resources you can, and there are many! From your local library to plant swaps to making your own compost and starting plants from seed, you can find ways to save money.

It’s also worth noting that just because you are saving money on your garden does not mean your garden is compromised. Budget gardeners can easily create a thriving, healthy, and abundant harvest with a little creativity and a lot of savings!

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