How to Save Money in the Garden

Ask Miss Jean!


Jean Lovell, long-time Resource Central volunteer and former master gardener, tackles your gardening questions!

Submit your question(s) for Miss Jean to:

Q:  What are some ways to cut down on the costs of gardening?

A: Yes, gardening can be expensive. Here are several ideas to reduce those costs.

1- Make your own compost.

2- Use mulch – less watering means fewer weeds, so no spending money on herbicides. 

3- Water wisely – water in the cool morning hours to cut down on losses to evaporation. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water directly to plant roots.

4- Use cooled cooking water from veggies, pasta, and eggs for watering/fertilizing.

5- Save the water from when your shower is warming up. Use a bucket to capture the cold water as your shower heats up. Use for watering plants.

6- Test your soil – learn if you need fertilizer.

7- Leave grass clippings on the lawn – saves up to 25% on lawn fertilizer – leave only short clippings, those left from mowing every 5 days when grass is growing fast in the spring; otherwise, they may mat atop the lawn.

8- Look for beauty in aged materials; instantly add charm to even the newest gardens. Old bricks from a demolished building, for example, for edgings, pathways, walls for raised beds. Resource Centrals Materials Reuse Facility has great stock of used materials for great prices.

9- Invest in quality tools – it always pays off. Get tools for the long run and you may never need to replace them. It’s better than purchasing a new shovel every couple of years.

10- Share and trade plants, tools, or a load of mulch, etc.

11- Think small – mail-order nurseries sell bare-root tree, shrub, and perennial seedlings for as little as $5 or less and often offer a better selection than local garden centers. Google “bare-root plants”, or “bare-root trees”, if you are seeking trees specifically.

12- Select hard-working perennial plants – those that look good for more than one season.

13- Plant kitchen scraps.

14- Garden centers often put perennials on clearance at the end of the season.  Exception: Ornamental grasses. Buy young grasses early in the season and let them mature through the summer into the larger plants nurseries often sell at four times the cost.

15- Propagate plants from your own garden and transplant them where you want them.


Join us next month for details on plant propagating methods.