How to Save Big Money on Next Year's Lawn and Garden
This article shares tips from the newest episode of Dealista, our podcast that'll help you get more for less.
Brrr! It’s still cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn your mind to warmer thoughts and begin planning out how you’ll save on next year’s lawn and garden! The time to start is right now. Get the tips you need to save some green come spring time.
Yes, we know it takes a bit more time, patience, and sometimes, even special equipment. The fact remains, however, that the cost of a tomato plant from seed (usually pennies) is far cheaper than those beautiful, giant plants you can get at the nursery (usually $2-6!). While time is money, the great thing about growing from seed is that the time invested can pay off big time come planting season. Consider it if your budget is tight, or you want to have more control over the conditions your little plants are raised in.
Last year, I bought several heirloom seed packets (watermelons, tomatoes, etc), but had room to plant just a few seeds per packets. What did I do with the other 20 per packet? I traded with my mom. While seeds can be stored in cool and dry conditions for a year or two beyond the season you purchase them in (this can vary per species), why not spice up your garden with a seed swap? Have friends bring all their seed packets and trade out a few per packet for a free way to expand your gardening options. (Have the directions for each seed packet photocopied onto a sheet of paper for future reference.)
Buy Little Plants
Sometimes, even our best intentions will leave you seedless (or your dog may knock over all your tiny seedlings!). In the case of springtime approaching without having started anything, buying a plant is an OK alternative. Just go small. Those beautiful, arm-length plants with fruit already starting will cost you! If you can find small-rooted 4-packs that are less than 6 inches tall, you’ll usually get a greater discount per plant.
Garage sales and flea markets are the perfect place to stock up on supplies for growing. The best finds are usually clay pots, which can cost a pretty penny new from the store. Remember that some of the best finds may not look the greatest at the sale, so be prepared to dig through broken and dirty pots and accessories to get to the good stuff. It’s worth it!
Set Up Your Subscriptions
Subscribing to several mail-order catalogs is a great way to grow your garden. Not only can you learn a lot about planting and harvesting techniques, but you can also find out about new varieties you may not have heard of before. When you sign up, you’ll also get access to exclusive discounts and shipping offers. It’s the perfect way to save a bundle on some exotic plants or organic varieties. (Those who don’t want the paper waste may go ahead and search out the same companies online — but many of the colorful photos and charts may not be accessible this way.)
There are a few other tips you will want to know before you plan out that dream garden:
- Get the dirt on your supplier. To know if you’re working with a reputable company before you order, check out The Garden Watchdog, which is a free directory of over 7,000 mail-order companies, with ratings and comments from customers to help you get an unbiased review.
- Go Green! Organic and heirloom varieties are not only super-tasty, but they are great for reintroducing long-forgotten species of plants back into our environment. Consider getting these kinds of plants from a special supplier. A good list to start with is located at Green Promise.
- Hit the dollar store. Seriously. I got most of my potting soil, accessories, and even a few seed packets from my local store, for far less than what I would have gotten from a gardening retailer. (Many of the brands are exactly the same.) You’ll also want to check out retailers like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot after the summer season, to see what clearance items you can buy for next year!
- Get online codes. RetailMeNot.com continues to offer codes for big suppliers like Johnny Seeds and Spring Hill Nurseries. Try Googling your favorite seed company to see what codes may be available for your next phone or online order. (We’ve seen them as generous as 50% off an order, or free shipping plus gifts!)
How does your frugal garden grow?
If you enjoyed these tips you can find more in our show's archive.