Time for another garden journal post! This one is all about planning a budget for your garden and tips for saving money on your landscape and garden plans.
If you're thinking that late-June is a strange time to just be putting flowers in containers, I'd say you are probably right! But being in Italy for the month of May and then turning around to spend a week in Dallas in mid-June has me WAY behind on my yard/landscaping/garden aspirations. But the good news is, I live in hot and humid TN, so I expect to have a good 3-4 months to enjoy the flowers I am putting out now!
Ryan and I have discovered that at our "new" TN house (we've been here since Nov. 17), there is AMPLE space to plant things - so much so that we can't seem to fill up all the spaces and not spend a fortune! There are a grand total of:
- 7 hanging basket hooks between the front and back porch
- 5 hanging boxes on the back porch
- 5 raised garden beds (3'x 5')
- 4 huge containers (probably big enough to grow lemon trees in)
- 2 corner beds with trellises to grow vining plants
Whew! That's a lot of space!!! Ryan and I quickly figured out that it wasn't in our budget this year to fill all of the spaces with all of the things - and that's ok! A few empty spots is fine when you're just starting out, figuring out your yard, what will grow well, getting companion plant plans laid out, and learning what you are doing in general!
Read on for some of the tips and strategies we have learned (and are STILL learning!) for planning your garden and landscape in a way that isn't overwhelming and won't break the bank!
My Favorite Tips for Gardening on a Budget
Contact your local extension office:
I cannot stress how valuable this has been for us! Our extension office sent the resident community garden expert to our home for free (!) to do a personalized consultation. She spent over an hour walking through our yard with me and helping me to identify all of our plants, trees, shrubs, weeds, problem areas, and specific issues with our turf. It was so helpful to learn all about what we had, what we could repurpose or improve upon, and how we should ideally care for our yard in a way that is cost-effective and good for the environment. It was an amazing learning experience, and Ryan and I are both considering enrolling in TN's Master Gardener program in the fall as a way to learn more and volunteer in the community!
While we continue to make plans for our landscape and garden, Ryan and I are both reading a lot about companion planting. Apparently there are many cut flower varieties that you can plant in or next to a vegetable garden that will help prevent the need for pesticides/chemicals, attract beneficial insects and other creatures to enhance the garden environment. I highly recommend the book Vegetables Love Flowers Book if this is something you would like to learn more about. We are gaining so much practical knowledge from what we have read in the book thus far!
Learn to start growing things from seed or bulb:
You can save tens or hundreds of dollars by starting perennials and late-season annuals from seed! Sprout the seeds indoors in repurposed plant containers, tend to them inside for 2 weeks or so, transition the seedlings to outdoors for a few hours per day, and then they are ready to plant and become established! This year, we have done this successfully with tomatoes, arugula, carrots, leeks, and cucumber. I tried my hand at planting Dahlia bulbs for cutting flowers early in May and am loving the results!
Ask neighbors, friends, or family for transplant cuttings:
A lot of times, established yards of family and friends contain plants that need dividing. Liriope grass, milkweed, creeping Jenny, periwinkle, and sweet potato vine are all plants that we've been gifted cuttings of and have enjoyed planting in our own landscape as part of beds or containers. An added bonus is that you can think of the person who gifted it each time you look at the plant, which I love! Just be sure to share the love and pay it forward by gifting cuttings to someone else next year! Below is a photo of some creeping Jenny that Ryan's mom was kind enough to give us:
Plan your budget the first few years around obtaining garden tools and adding a few annuals:
It truly is surprising how much stuff you need to actually start gardening! Ryan and I have spent the past 3 years scouring yard sales, discount stores, and end-of-season sales to procure all the items we need to simply tend to our yard/garden. It really adds up cost-wise, so don't be discouraged if your plant budget is small the first few years of owning a home. This year, we planned to spend around $50 on annual flowers for our baskets/containers/boxes and seed for the garden beds. The rest of our yard budget this year has been spent on purchasing a lawnmower and filling all of those containers/raised beds with garden soil!
Below is a photo of the annuals I found to be an affordable option for the planter on my front porch: coleus and begonias. This area hardly gets any direct sunlight, so that's why I chose those specific plants. I just learned that the coleus can be divided, repotted, and grown indoors during the winter months, so I'm excited to try that later this year and will be sure to report back on how it goes!
Avoid buying pre-filled containers with plants and fill your own
All of the pretty hanging baskets filled with flowers at the store can really add up cost-wise. Especially when you have as many hooks as I do for hanging them! I figured out that I could save quite a bit by purchasing my own hanging flower baskets from Amazon and then filling them with some lower-cost flowers. The baskets that I purchased are ones that I can use for several years and just refill with a bit of fresh soil and annuals each summer.
Purple and white vinca, coral-hued celosia, and creeping Jenny were the plants I chose to fill my baskets with - for only $38 I was able to fill seven 12-inch baskets, one window box, and two 6-inch pots! A few containers of flowers really went a long way, and I know that as the summer goes on, these little plantings will get much bigger and look nice and full in the pots. Additionally, I'm happy to know the startup cost of the hanging baskets is not something I will have to account for in years to come!
While I'm FAR from being a gardening expert, I do think it's helpful to share what I'm learning along the way! I know there are a lot of new homeowners/beginner gardeners out there who are "thirsty" for tips and information about getting started, so I hope that by passing along what I'm learning, someone else's gardening journey might be a little easier - and budget friendly! If this is you, please leave me a comment below to say hello and let me know what you're working on in your landscape/garden this year.
And for all of experienced gardeners, thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear any tips, suggestions, or feedback you might have that's helped you in your gardening!
Below you will find links (some affiliate) to the items I've mentioned in this post or show in the photos:
- Find your local extension office
- Hanging Planter Baskets
- Vegetables Love Flowers Book book
- Overall shorts
- Gardening gloves
- Rose print tee (similar here and here)