Top Ten Ways to Save Money on Your Garden

10 Ways to Save Money on Your Garden

Gardening is often touted as a great way to save on the cost of fresh produce. But there is the cost of seeds, plants, soil, pots, tomato cages, lumber for raised beds, mulch… In fact, I’m finding there are a lot of up front costs when growing a garden. So how are some of the ways you can keep those costs low to have a frugal garden? I’ve got ten suggestions for saving on those costs.

2009 garden plan

By lauracreekmore

1. Ask Your Gardening Friends What They Grow – There are some seductive pictures in the gardening catalogs that arrive in the mail. But you may be throwing your money away on something that is not suited to your area. By asking your friends or finding local gardening resources – like your state’s extension service – for advice on what grows well, you won’t be wasting your money on plants that won’t produce good results.

2. Ask Your Gardening Friends for Starts – I’ve found that if you ask, you receive. Gardeners tend to be a generous lot, and when they have extras, they are happy to give them away.

3. Craigslist and Freecycle – I continue to be amazed at the things you can find on Craigslist! Manure, lumber, plants, mulch…it’s all there. For true inspiration on how to use Craigslist to your advantage, check out my reader Amy’s garden. I’ve learned a lot from her site! After you search Craigslist, get on Freecycle. Its another great resource for getting FREE gardening supplies. Place a politely worded request for what you need, and wait for the replies!

4. Barter – I posted recently about the Front Range Trading Post. It is set up so people can barter for goods – instead of exchanging money. If you can’t find a similar arrangement in your community, start one! You can also join in any gardening organizations in your area. They will often hold plant exchanges.

5. Pick Seeds Over Plants – A packet of seeds can lead to up to 100 plants for the same cost as one plant start sold by the nursery. Sure it requires more work, but the savings are real.

6. Grow What is Expensive in the Grocery Store – I plan to plant several bell pepper plants. My family loves them, but they can cost well over a dollar a piece for conventionally grown at the grocery store! (don’t get me started on the price of organically grown!) Most of us have limited room for our gardens. Pick plants that are expensive in the store and preserve them for the next year. This will save you money in the long run.

7. Harvest Your Rainwater – Use a rain barrel to collect your roof’s runoff. Use this water on your garden. Water can be one of the biggest expenses in your garden. Rain is free. Free is good. At the very least, have a bucket in your shower. Catch all that water that normally runs down the drain while you are waiting for it to get hot. Use it to water. I’ve done this for years on my pots.

8. Repurpose in the Garden – If you plan to grow your garden in pots, think outside the pottery pot. Do you have anything else around the house you could grow your garden in?

What about your garden border? Gather up your glass bottles and upcycle your glass bottles into a border for your flower beds.

Glass Bottles border flower bed

You can also use fabric scraps to tie up plants like tomatoes. Or use plastic knives to mark your crops. Use a clear shower curtain to shelter your rows. I’m sure you can come up with hundreds of ideas for repurposing in the garden.

9. Compost – Turn your trash into garden treasure. By composting your scraps, you have a free supply of nutrients for your garden. Who wants to buy dirt or manure anyway?

10. Swagbucks! – Join Swagbucks and turn those digital dollars into Amazon gift cards. When I decided to Sprout Microgreens over the winter, I used my Swagbucks to get the seeds for FREE! In fact, one $5 Amazon card bought me three packets of seeds. I’ve been sprouting the microgreens, and I have a packet of mesculan lettuce waiting to go in the garden! If you are new to Swagbucks make sure you read How to Earn Free Gift Cards in a Minimum Amount of Time.

AND  A BONUS #11! Read the Greenbacks Gal - No she didn’t! Oh Yes I DID! Shameless plug here. But when I find out about a deal like 25 packs of organic seeds for the cost of shipping, you better believe I’ll pass it along! (which by the way – they gave them all out in just two days, so I hope you acted fast!)

Now I’d love your ideas! Please leave me comments with your frugal gardening suggestions!

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  1. I keep thinking that I will plant a garden, once I graduate from college and get my own place. It seems like such a great idea and kind of fun. Sorry, I don’t have any tips for you. I come to you for the tips. lol

  2. I love suggestion #10!!!

  3. Excellent suggestions, Andrea!

    My Dad does a garden every year and they share the crops with all of us. There are some years he puts so much time, energy and money into it and then we have a late freeze/frost that wipes tons of plants out, or seeds/plants were bad and did not produce, or a pest of some sort kills some of the crops. I always feel so bad when something like this happens. His garden is his baby and he is so proud of what he grows!

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great ideas! I was planning on starting a garden this year but I have moved the money in that budget to the “re-do the den” budget, maybe next year, sigh.

  5. Oh you are making me want to plant a veggie garden!

  6. Great ideas! I am inspired to go hunting for great manure – there’s always an ad in our local paper for free “alpaca beans.” I think veggie gardens are going to be an even better investment this year – food prices seem to be going through the roof!

  7. i dont plant veg but when i first started gardening, experienced gardeners where more than happy to give me cast offs to help me get started!

  8. No tips to add, I actually came looking for tips so thanks. Love the idea of the wheelbarrow and I love reading the Freecycle emails for our neighborhood, people give away some pretty awesome stuff.

  9. These tips are great! Thanks for sharing them, I’m sending them on to my mom, too. Frugal runs in the family.

    I also have to add that the end totally cracked me up. You totally caught me off guard with the “No she didn’t.” Classic!

  10. ConnieFoggles says:

    Not a gardener now, but it brings me back to when I was. Very helpful tips on saving money for healthy and delicious produce.

  11. Thanks for visiting my site recently and commenting on the foraging post. That’s the best way for me to find other like-minded folks out there in the wild. Completely agree with your tips here on the garden. While I was lazy and bought mine complete, i know folks who got components for huge rain barrels from craigslist for a steal. And, for composters, you can go the cheap and easy route of a simple box, but you can also find many counties offering subsidized compost bins and rain barrels in the Spring season. We got fabulous, secure composters for about 70% off that way.

  12. A terrific list. We collect rain water, compost, and share seeds and produce with friends and neighbors. Gardening seems to bring people together.


  13. Thanks for this list. I really must buy some seeds to grow from as I’ve been growing from seedlings. I think I’ll brave the seed world now thanks. I really loved number 11 made me laugh so much! Look forward to reading more.

  14. Also, if stored properly (cool and dry), seeds are good for a few years, not just the one year they were packaged for. Save money by not buying more than necessary (unless you’re like me, and forget what you have in the box, and buy a pack here and there on sale or on a whim, then you have this growing collection of seeds… this year I made a list of what I’ll need for next year, and put it on my google docs ongoing shopping list, so when I’m at the store, I can check my list and not buy more of something I already bought more of).

  15. Great tips! I hadn’t thought of checking Craigslist for supplies! I recently bought my Heirloom Seeds and can’t wait to start planting! I do have one tip, if you don’t like to or don’t have time for weeding, buildings raised beds or plowing you can actually plant your garden in Straw Bales! I just learned about this & I can’t wait to try it out, I just wrote a post about it on my website….(sorry I’m not trying to be spammy & plug my site! It is relevant to the topic though!)
    I also love your tip to use the recycled glass as a border! That will look so pretty in the sunlight! Thanks for the tips, I can’t wait to start planting!


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