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Welcome to the Frugal Column, where I aim to inspire you to live your best life without breaking the bank. You can follow my award-winning blog Shoestring Cottage and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel. This month I am looking at ways to save money in the garden.
This month we officially hit summer in the UK. If you have a bit of garden, it is possibly running rampant right now. I know mine is!
It is easy to spend vast amounts of money on plants, compost, tools and seeds. Personally, I can get lost in a garden centre, and could easily get through hundreds of pounds if I allowed myself. However, over the years I have learned a few tricks to make our outside space beautiful on a budget. I thought I would share some ideas about how to save money in the garden.
It takes a little patience and forward planning, but growing plants from seed rather than buying them ready to go will save you so much money. You can also take cuttings from existing plants.
Perennial wallflowers are one of our favourites as they look pretty, fill a big gap and are super easy to grow from a cutting. You can literally take a piece and plant it in a pot of soil, where it will take root after a few weeks.
When you are on a budget, it makes sense to plant perennials rather than annuals. Filling your space with shrubs, bulbs and flowers that come back each year also saves time. Foxgloves and hollyhocks are beautiful plants and will self seed too, so you get flowers for free.
Don’t just search out the yellow stickers at the supermarket. It is always worth looking in the discounted section of the garden centre too. You will find plants there that are past their best, but can often be saved with a little loving care.
I tend to avoid annuals and vegetable plants in the reduced section, but will happily pick up hardy perennials and shrubs. They often just need repotting, regular feeding and a trim.
Another way to buy plants cheaply and save money in the garden is to look for them in less obvious places.
Supermarkets can be good value, but even cheaper are the stalls at boot sales and those with an honesty box outside somebody’s house. Summer fetes are also worth a look.
A wildlife patch in your garden can fill some space and add interest, as well as being great for birds and insects.
You can buy big boxes of wildflower seeds for just a couple of pounds. Add to them a pile of logs, some bug boxes and a small pond and the wildlife will really benefit. Allow the grass to grow longer in that area to allow bee-friendly daisies, clover and dandelions to thrive.
If you want a cheap and fun activity to do with the kids, the RSPB shows you how to make a simple bug hotel here.
When you are starting out in your garden, it can be tempting to buy lots of new tools. But it’s not difficult to find them second hand. Again, boot sales are your friend here, but it is also worth checking Freecycle and Freegle. If you put a wanted ad on either or both, some kind soul may well have just what you want gathering dust in their shed.
You can often find plants for free too – we often give away our excess seedlings this way.
We make some of our own compost with raw scraps from the kitchen, such as peelings and apple cores, lawn clippings, toilet roll tubes and old tissues, tealeaves, etc. Don’t add perennial weeds to your compost, however, or you will spread their seeds when you use the compost.
It is possible to buy plastic compost bins, but you can also make your own with old pallets. This YouTube video from Simplify Gardening will show you how.
Yes, you can buy lots of beautiful and expensive ceramic and terracotta pots for your garden. However, you can save a lot of cash by being creative. I often use my old welly boots as planters, and have seen old toilets, tin cans, metal oil containers, teapots and even a piano used to plant up people’s floral displays.
Use your imagination and see what you can come up with.
With food prices rising sharply, it makes sense to grow a little food if you have the space. Start with something easy, like salad leaves or a few herbs.
If you feel more confident, it’s not too late to start this month. This article from the RHS explains the types of crops you can grow in June.
Once you have your garden growing, it is important to keep it watered during dry periods. If you are on a water meter, however, your bill is likely to rise sharply if you put the hose on regularly.
A couple of water butts will be a good investment to keep your water bill down. Some county councils offer subsidised water butts (and compost bins too), so check your local council’s website.
Hopefully, these tips will help you save money in the garden and make the best of your outdoor space. What are your favourite tips to grow a garden on a budget?