Home » budget


Garden on a budget: how to save money on plants

Garden on a budget: how to save money on plants

Love to garden, but find that you can’t garden as much as you’d like because buying plants is so darn expensive? I’m with you… purchasing plants for your garden can get really pricey if you don’t have a plan. These tips and strategies will help you to garden on a budget. Now you can create a beautiful garden filled with lovely plants– without sacrificing your entire paycheck to your new hobby.

Garden budgets require good planning

When you garden on a budget, you must avoid a case of the “onsie-twosies.” What does this mean exactly? It means that you need to stop buying one-off impulse purchases of your flowers and plants. We all purchase plants on a whim at the garden center because they are beautiful. But, you need to think about where you would put this new plant in your landscape first. Also, do you have the proper conditions for this plant so that it will thrive with a minimal amount of maintenance like fertilizing, watering and amending your soil?

Think about good planning and design before you plant is the key to creating a garden on a budget. Plants are the very last step, especially if you are looking to create a budget-friendly low-maintenance landscape.

When you’re on a budget and plan out your project you’ll also be more perceptive of sales on hardscape materials and even plants that you want to include in your project. Perhaps you can buy these items off-season to save money. Without a plan you won’t be able to benefit from seasonal sales and discounts.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit

Simplify your planting design

The simpler your garden design the more money you can save in your budget. And if you take the time to plan out a design with beautiful native plants that can be propagated over time, you’ll be able to fill up your space without draining your bank account.

Choosing plants that will take up more space in your garden is another way to leverage a simple design to garden on a budget. Choose plants like classic groundcovers and ornamental grasses that will spread and take up more space over time. Be careful about choosing plants that are not vigorous or invasive because they will take over.

Choose the right plants

Choosing the right plants is so important when creating a garden on a budget. With a bit of planning you can create a low-maintenance landscape, which means that you’ll be creating a budget-friendly landscaping as well.

Think about what is right for the plant that you are choosing. Do you have the right growing conditions and water requirements for this plant? Make sure that the plants you choose will be happy and healthy in the conditions that you already have. This is one of the easiest ways to save money and time. Here are some resources for choosing the right plants for your environmental conditions.

Plant databases

Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder – sort through plants that will grow in the US by tons of different filters… like color, soil, light needs, deer-resistant, etc. etc.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Plant Database – plants that can grow in a lot of conditions across the US.

Quick Tip: Check out my posts on landscape layering to get more recommendations for great plants you can try in your landscape.

Consider drought-tolerant plants

Choosing desert or drought-tolerant plants will save you money. This is because the cost of irrigation can be expensive. If you are starting from scratch or redesigning your landscape, think about the maintenance and watering needs of the plants that you choose.

Divide plants to get more plants for your budget Garden
Propagate plants to create a beautiful, full garden without breaking your budget.

Propagate your plants

If you are trying to save money on your landscape and gardening projects you should learn more about how to propagate plants. In addition, purchase plants that are known to be easily propagating.

There is a trade off with propagation and that’s time. While you will save money doing this, it can take a year to several years for your plants to grow before they are ready to be divided. You’ll also have to invest the time in both learning how to do this and actually taking the steps to propagate the plants. But again if budget is an issue this is a great option.

There’s several ways that you can propagate plants to get more plants.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit

Propagate by division.

Check out my post on how to divide daylilies to learn how you can divide your plants. This same technique can be used on many herbaceous perennials. Most of them are quite hardy so it’s a great first option to try if you are new to propagation. This can significantly reduce your expenses when buying plants.

How to divide daylilies and other perennials with one tool – step by step

Just make sure you plan ahead of time so that you know how many plants you have room for. Remember that it does take longer to bring your landscape to a mature level when you do this. Every time you divide your plants they’ll be small again… and you’ll have to wait for them to grow to their adult sizes before your landscape will look full and complete.

Pro tip: You can also propagate your bulbs. So, if you have been growing flowers like daffodils from bulbs, after a few years you can dig up that bulb and you’ll see a large mass of bulbs. These can be broken apart into pieces and replanted as separate flowers! OMG, right!

Propagate from seed.

There are a lot of beautiful perennial flowers that produce seeds that you can use to make more flowers.

Growing seeds from your coneflowers is a great option to get more plants when you garden on a budget.

Think about the center of a sunflower or a beautiful coneflower. At the end of the growing season, you can take the time to pull out these seeds in order to make more flowers! At the end of the growing season take the seeds from the center of the coneflower to make more plants for next year!

I like to start by growing these in an egg carton with a little bit of dirt. Once the seeds sprout into a plant and it’s established enough to plant, you can put them back into your garden to have even more plants.

Growing more plants and flowers from seeds is a great way to garden on a budget. Image Source

Propagate from cuttings.

Many perennials– even shrubs– can be propagated from stem cuttings. One of the best things to use in this case is something called rooting hormone. If you snip off a piece of the plant and dip it in the rooting hormone, you can stick the plant right into a pot filled with soil and it should turn into a new plant.

For other plants, you will have to take a cutting and stick it into a glass or mason jar filled with water. Once the bottom of the cutting starts to grow some roots you can take it out of the water and transplant it into a jar. Before you know if you’ll have tons of beautiful plants when you only purchased one! It’s a great money-saving tip for budget gardeners.

Grow any plants from cuttings using natural rooting hormone | Garden on a budget

Purchase smaller plants

Purchasing smaller plants is another tip for creating a lovely garden on a budget. If you buy smaller plants, you’ll spend less money on your plants. This is because the nursery didn’t have to invest as much time to grow the plant. Again there’s a trade-off with time because you’ll have to wait longer for your plants to grow to mature size. But it’s a great tip to try if you really need to get started but are limited on money.

What I tend to do is invest more money to buy large evergreen shrubs and main focal point plants in my landscape. Then, I’ll sacrifice size for price for my other plantings. It’s all about balance and what you are able to/willing to spend and how long you are able/willing to wait to see the results. There are a few different ways you can purchase these smaller plants:

Buy small.

Garden on a budget by purchasing a smaller version of the plant you love.
Garden on a budget by purchasing a smaller version of the plant you love. Image from Lots of Plants

Usually at the garden center they will have a plant in multiple sizes. So, if you come across a plant you really like but it’s large and too expensive, take a stroll around. You may find a smaller version of same exact plant in another area of the store and you’ll save half or even a third of a cost.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit

Purchase bare root.

These are a lot younger versions of potted plants or balled in burlap trees. Although these “bare root” plants will be smaller, there are benefits beyond cost-savings.

garden on a budget by purchasing bare root

Bare root plants and trees are usually much more resilient to transplanting. So, you run less-risk of having your plant or tree die when you put it into your landscape. Image Source

Grow from plugs.  

If you go to the garden center, most of the plants you’ll see are potted. But, typically these plants are purchased wholesale as small plugs— not seeds. The garden center or nursery then grows these plugs into plants and sells them to you for a profit.

Garden on a budget by purchasing plugs

There are now options for individuals to purchase plugs wholesale online so you can “skip the middle man” and save some money. Plugs are actually really inexpensive– you can find them for less than $5. Image Source

The Pollen Nation is a great place to start shopping for beautiful, native plugs. Keep in mind that when you are buying plugs wholesale like this you’ll have to purchase at least 25 plugs per order.

Wrapping Up

There are plenty of ways to garden on a budget while still enjoying beautiful plants and a lush landscape. Create a plan so that you know what you need. This will help you to purchase plants and landscaping materials when they are off-season or discounted. Creating a simple planting scheme and considering your conditions will help to save you money. The less plants you kill, the less money you will need to spend replacing those hard-to-grow plants!

You can also save money by purchasing smaller plants or low-cost bare root or plug options. This helps you save money without sacrificing how many plants you can have. Also try choosing plants that can be propagated and split into more plants. This is a great way to save money! With these budget-friendly plant tips, you should be able to create a beautiful garden without having to worry so much about how you’ll afford it.

What did I miss? What are your favorite ways to garden on a budget and save money on plants?

More gardening posts you’ll love

Garden on a budget: how to save money on plants
Don’t forget to pin this post for later!
Get beautiful landscaping on a budget with these tips

Get beautiful landscaping on a budget with these tips

Creating beautiful landscaping on a budget sounds like an impossible task. But, it’s a common question that deserves an answer. Although landscaping can be expensive, there are ways to offset the costs. So, if you have huge landscape dreams but shallow pockets, here are some ways that you can get through this!

The balance between time and money

When trying to landscape on a budget, you need to be aware of the balance between your resources of time/effort vs. money. You can save money by spending more time and effort doing it yourself. Or you can get it done with less time and effort by hiring out the job. It’s all about maintaining the balance between how much time and effort you can spend and how much money you can spend.

Maybe you don’t have a large budget, but you have some money to spend. Are there some landscaping tasks that you really aren’t comfortable or capable of doing on your own that you can outsource? It may be cheaper to hire someone to do those specific tasks than if you hired out the entire project. This is a good way to save some money on your landscaping project without having to sacrifice quality or your precious time.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit

Prioritize your projects

Now that you understand the balance between time and money, let’s talk priorities. Landscape projects also consist of a balance between beauty and function. When working on a budget,  I recommend that you prioritize your functional needs over your aesthetic desires. You may need to sacrifice some beauty to make your landscaping functional. Before you make it pretty, you have to make it work.

Here are some ways to determine what’s most important on your landscaping to-do list.

beautiful landscaping on a budget
What’s already working in your landscaping? Take those ideas and run with them in other areas… like this beautifully naturalized meadow of daisies.

What parts of your landscaping are already working?

Are there spaces in your landscape that you already really love and enjoy? Consider how you can improve upon areas you already love. With a few slight tweaks, could make these spaces even better? This may be an easy budget-friendly project that will take a minimal amount of effort and money but produce a great result for you.

Also think about ways you can apply what’s already working to other areas of your landscape. You can you take pieces from the areas you love to create more function, beauty and comfort to other areas of your landscape.

If you’re landscaping on a budget, consider using leftover materials from the original project to complete your new project.

What’s definitely not working in your landscape?

Are there areas of your landscape that you really just hate? This is a good place to focus your time, effort and budget as well. To save money, you can consider just blocking the view to this unsightly area until you have more time and money to dedicate to fixing the area. Can you block, hide, cover or camouflage an area instead of actually landscaping it?

Quick Tip: Read my post on how to start landscaping your yard to learn how to get started with your first landscaping project.

Where do you spend the most time?

What are some of your most used spaces? What to do you walk across the most, relax in the most, view the most or experience the most? Prioritize the spaces you use most in your landscaping budget.

For example, consider how you access your front door from the street or your parking area. Is the walkway wide enough?  Do you enjoy walking to your front door? Are there any tripping hazards? Is there proper lighting? Is it clear for guests how they should get to the front door from the parking area?

Your property entry is a great place to start if you are landscaping on a budget. Improving the function and aesthetic appeal of your entry is something you can enjoy every day. It will also improve your curb appeal and increase the value of your home (more on this in the next section).

What landscaping projects will increase the value of your home?

What landscaping projects will give you the biggest return on investment (ROI)? A beautiful, well-kept landscape is the very definition of curb appeal. If you are landscaping on a budget, consider focusing your priorities on the areas that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Notice how the landscape doesn’t just hug the foundation?

Improving your front entry and foundation planting will boost your home value more than any other landscaping project. According to landscape economist John Harris, a beautiful and well-kept landscape can account for 28% of your home’s overall value.

Take the time to create a plan

My printable project planning worksheets will help you stay on budget during your next landscaping project.

So, you’ve decided on a budget. You’ve determined how much time and energy you can dedicate to your project. You’ve even prioritized your list so you know what’s most important. Now, you need to create a plan.

Many times, in an effort to save money, home owners will DIY their landscape project and actually create more issues. Before you fall into this trap, create a plan for your project and take the time to understand how to tackle the project.

Quick Tip: My printable project planning worksheets will help you stay on budget during your next landscaping project.

Pick your plants last

Notice that I didn’t say pick your plants first! Plants are kind of like the icing on the landscaping cake.

  • Start with a good plan (a recipe)
  • Execute the plan (bake)
  • This will create a solid foundation (cake)
  • Once all of this is done, you can ice and decorate (plants)

If you have a crooked cake you may be able to disguise some of the issues with the frosting… but it will probably look kind of crappy. But, if you didn’t follow the recipe or bake it long enough, it won’t taste good. It’s really hard to fix this without starting over. And starting over can cost you not only money… but time and effort.

Yarrow, catmint and salvia complimentary garden color schemes

I believe I’ve made my point! Start with a plan. Execute the plan. Choose your plants (LAST). Working with a plan will ensure that you do the project right the first time. I’m sure this sounds obvious, but it’s really important. Low maintenance and durable designs are more cost-effective and time-effective in the long run. So, invest in the knowledge you need to do the project right the first time. Otherwise, you’ll be spending your time maintaining or money replacing your mistakes.

Quick Tip: Check out my article on Landscape Layering when you’re ready to choose plants.

What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

Powered by ConvertKit

Start with a small landscaping project

beautiful landscaping on a budget

If you’re landscaping on a budget or are intimidated by starting a large landscaping project, there’s nothing wrong with starting a small project first. Instead of tackling your whole front yard, start with a front porch flag or a mailbox garden. Once you gain more confidence, you can continue to build upon that first small project.

Even when you start small, start with a plan. Dream big at first then break down your big dream into smaller, manageable projects that you can accomplish one at a time. Maybe you can’t afford a $10,000 landscaping project, but could you break that project down into phases that you could work on over the course of four or five years? This brings me to my next tip… working in phases.

Work on your landscaping in budget-friendly phases

When you break your landscaping project into smaller projects, you’ll be able to achieve your landscaping goals at a pace and price you can handle. Start small and only take on what you handle. This is a little bit of a tortoise vs. the hair analogy. Slow and steady CAN win the race.

There is a risk involved with taking on a project in phases: weeds. Make sure that you don’t tear up too much of your landscape at one time. Remember… phases. Cover any areas of bare soil in order to prevent weed growth. There are many options for covering the area. One of the easiest, aesthetically pleasing and budget-friendly options for this is mulch. Use the mulch as a placeholder to prevent weed pressure in your garden until you have time to finish the project.

DIY front yard landscaping ideas on a budget

Using railing boxes is another great small garden idea if you are short on space

Your front yard is the best place to start if you are landscaping on a budget. That’s because curb appeal can increase your home’s value and is the most visible area of your yard. If you’re looking for some DIY landscaping ideas for your front yard, try starting with these budget-friendly projects:

Budget-friendly backyard landscaping ideas

Brick paver walkway ideas

A beautiful backyard doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With a little effort and a lot of creativity, you can create a beautiful outdoor space without being house-poor. Here are some budget-friendly backyard landscaping ideas that are cheap, easy and guaranteed to turn heads.

Free materials to fit your landscaping project budget

With a little bit of effort you can find tons of resources and materials that are free or very low cost to help you have a beautiful landscape on a budget. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Wood chip mulch: A lot of local tree services are looking to get rid of their wood chip mulch and may offer it to you at little to no cost. So, I’d recommend contacting a pro in your area. You may see some sticks or dried leaves in this type of mulch, but from a distance you really can’t tell the difference.
  • Compost: Consider making your own compost. This will provide you with a great fertilizer for your garden beds and it’s also great for the environment. If you don’t want to get into composting, there are many local areas that give away or sell compost at a very low cost. So, check your local township or city resources to find out if this is available.
  • Leaf mulch: You can also collect leaves and use those as mulch. People bag them for you and put them on the curb. If you want to save money and aren’t easily embarrassed, just go around the neighborhood and pick up the leafs. Run them over with your lawn mower a few times and you’ll have beautiful leaf mulch. This will also add nutrients back into your soil and help your plants to grow up happy and healthy.
  • Education: If you invest in learning about landscaping and gardening, you’ll gain more knowledge and confidence. You’ll also be able to tackle more projects without the help of a professional. Explore your curiosity by taking courses, listening to podcasts and reading blogs, books and magazines. This is a fun and rewarding way to invest in yourself and also save money in the long term.

Wrapping Up

I hope you’ve found this budget-friendly landscaping tips and ideas helpful. Remember that in order to save money you may need to invest more time into your landscaping project. So, dedicate the budget that you do have to things that are really labor-intensive or you don’t have the skills to complete yourself. Once you understand this balance, you can set priorities for which projects will be the most important to you. There are many factors you can use to determine priority, like where you spend the most time, what will increase your home’s value or general likes and dislikes about certain areas of your landscape.

When you’re on a budget it’s important that you create a plan and stick to it. While you can dream big in your plan, try to chunk this down into small and manageable projects. Also look for ways to break down the project into phases so that you can space out the amount of work you have to do and also give yourself more time to save money for it. In addition, you can save a lot of money by simplifying your planting scheme and choosing plants that will naturally grow and fill up larger spaces. You can also use free or low-cost resources in your project…. Such as leaf mulch, wood chip mulch, compost, blogs, podcasts and even friends to help you with the work!

Are you a budget-savvy landscaper? I’d love to hear about some landscaping projects that you proudly completed on a budget. Comment below with the details or any more budget-friendly landscaping tips.

More great landscaping posts

beautiful landscaping on a budget
Easy porch sconce makeover with spray paint

Easy porch sconce makeover with spray paint

I was looking for a quick weekend curb appeal project now that spring is upon us, and I came up with the idea to paint porch sconces with spray paint. An afternoon later I completely updated my front porch lighting for less than $10!
Read More “Easy porch sconce makeover with spray paint”