The number of gardeners in the United States is, well…growing. And at a pretty impressive rate.
A 2018 survey found 77% of American households are now gardening,1 a new all-time high. On average, $503 is spent per household each year, which is up almost $100 from 2017.
The good news is that gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some cost-friendly tips to help you get your grow on, without drying up your budget.
Plan before you plant. Learn what grows best in the region you live, and read plant tags and seed packets thoroughly. The quickest way to waste money gardening is to kill your plants, so make sure you know the essential info for each plant (like how much water and sun it needs) before you get going.
Start from seeds. It’s always going to be more cost-efficient to buy seeds than to buy full grown plants. For example, you can typically buy a pack of 100 seeds for less than two bucks, while it could cost about 50¢ per plant at a nursery.2 Here’s a pro tip: Seed swaps are quite common in the gardening community and are a great way to add some new plants to your garden for no cost. The Great American Seed Swap Facebook Group has over 18,000 members and counting.
Grow your own groceries. Growing your own food is a fantastic, money-saving way to put your green thumb to good use. It’s also healthy and incredibly rewarding. Here are 10 easy to grow fruits, veggies and herbs to fill your garden with.
Pick out some perennials. Perennials are essentially long-term investments. They are a bit more expensive and take longer to grow, but since they come back every year, you get a nice bang for your buck if you plan on staying on top of your garden year after year.
Make your own fertilizers. Healthy plants start with healthy soil. But instead of using store-bought fertilizer to treat your soil, try making your own. Everything from egg shells to bananas to coffee grounds can provide proper nutrients to certain plants. Check out this article for more details and instructions on how to make inexpensive homemade fertilizer.
Use cardboard to kill weeds. Cardboard is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to control weeds. All you need to do is lay down some cardboard over the unwanted plants, soak it with water, and cover it with a layer of mulch. It’s 100% biodegradable and should last a season or two.
Make your own pots and planters. Used (and cleaned) yogurt containers and egg cartons make for great seedling holders. You can also easily turn a stack of old newspapers into biodegradable seed-starter pots.
Borrow or buy used tools. Instead of buying new rakes, shovels or shears ask around to see if a fellow gardener has some tools you can borrow for a weekend. Craigslist, eBay, and garage/estate sales are also great places to find tools for dirt cheap.
Don’t hate, propagate. Propagation is the process of using seeds, cuttings or other parts from one plant to then plant a new one. So, if your friend or neighbor has some beautiful African violets in bloom, ask if you can grab some cuttings and then grow some of your own.
You’re ready to grow
As you can see, there’s really no reason to let your gardening habits become the root of your money problems. Follow these tips and both your garden and your budget will thrive.