Spring is a great time to plant a garden. Brightly colored annuals can brighten your front porch and nothing tastes better than a tomato grown in your backyard. But heading to the nearest garden center andloading up on a cartload of plants can be an expensive outing.
Here are five ways to have a garden that is the envy of your neighborhood without breaking the bank:
Plan Before You Plant
The most expensive garden is the one whose plants do not survive because they were not the right choices for the climate, soil or sunlight of your yard. Watch the area whereyou want to plant flowers or vegetables and note the sun conditions throughout the day. While most plants at your local garden center should thrive in your yard, it is important to know your climate zone if mail-ordering since many plants will only survive specific conditions and temperatures. If you do not know your climate zone, you can check on the United States National Arboretum website. You may also want to have your soil tested at your local agriculture extension office.
You can also avoid costly mistakes by drawing a plan for your garden based on your personal preferences. If your family does not like radishes, but you plant a row them, then they will most likely go to waste. Pick vegetables that your family enjoys or would like to try. For flower gardens, browse free garden plans online such as those offered by Better Homes and Garden and Country Living.
Consider Perennials over Annuals
While a flat of petunias or impatiens can seem like a great deal because they are often the same price as a single perennial, in the long run perennials typically offer a better value. Annuals only last for one growing season while perennials will return for many years. You can also divide perennials once they are established and expand your garden for years to come without purchasing another plant.
Mail Order Garden Centers
Many mail order garden centers sell plants at a significantly reduced price and often offer discounts for each order. Some, such as Spring Hill, offers a guarantee for as long as you have the garden and will send you a replacement plant or give you a credit. While the plants purchased bymail order are typically much smaller in size than those at your local nursery, properly cared for plants will grow quickly.
Plant from Seed
Planting vegetables and flowers from seed is another great way to save money. You can even get a head start on your garden by planting the seeds inside and then transplanting them to your garden once the frost date has past. Some flowers, such as impatiens, can take a while to grow from seed and are typically better to buy as plants. Others such as zinnias, sunflowers and marigolds grow quickly from seed and add cheap color to your garden. Corn, melons, squash and watermelons are among the fast growing vegetables that are also great choices to plant from seeds.
Use Plant Clippings from Friends and Neighbors
You can also get beautiful plants for free by asking friends and neighbors for plant clippings. Most gardeners divide their perennials every three years and are typically thrilled to share their plants. And as an added bonus, it creates special meaning to know that the flower came from your grandma’s garden or that your neighbor Sue gave it to you before she moved.