Thursday, September 9, 2010

Play in the Dirt Cheaper; New Ways to Garden Less Expensively

Gardening is a great way to see the transformation of a seed to a beautiful plant or vegetable. It is a calming end to a stressful day. However, there isn't a gardener around that wouldn't want to save time and money on her landscape. Below are tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Save your cash!

Tip #1- Buy what you need and only what you need. If you are only going to use 2 or 3 tomato plants, don't buy a couple of flats "just in case". Also, buy plants rather than seed; but if you just love seed make sure that you plant the seedlings directly into the ground. Doesn't sound like a huge tip until you calculate up the price of peat pots and potting soil, etc. For the excess seed you can stage a seed swap or a plant swap with the community. That way you get rid of your excess and are able to get viable alternatives instead.

Tip #2- Get yourself some free mulch. Contact your local landfill, dairy farm, tree care service, and disposal company. They may have ways to use you as a dumping ground for leaves (a great mulch or compost ingredient). The dairy farm may have loads of manure you can get for free; and the tree care service? It's always a good source of wood chips.

Tip #3- Buy out of season. Most plants, if you do your homework, can be planted in the fall and you can rack up some great discounts in the process. Those dead looking plants can sometimes be dormant waiting for spring. Don't always think of spring as your main planting season.

Tip #4- Don't buy plants at all! Separate the perennials you have in your garden and use them throughout your landscape. Request to take cuttings from your friend's or neighbor's garden. Attend a plant swap put on by a local gardening club. One perennial can make tons of smaller segments to use throughout and will mature up to the same size as bigger store bought plants.

Tip #5- Take advantage of the sales. Most mail order companies will have great fall coupons, some saving more than 50%. Look around and you may find just what you are looking for without spending your whole gardening budget.

Save your effort!

Tip #1- Try a raised flower bed. These are the perfect way to keep from bending several times a day and creating fatigue. Make sure you don't forget that straw hat to stave off heat exhaustion too. The perfect height seems to be just to your fingertips when you are standing.

Tip #2- A centralized water bucket keeps you from lugging heavy containers to and from while you water your plants. If you can afford it, install sprinklers for centralized spraying (This also is a money saver. Sure there is a moderate payment, but it cuts down on your bottom line by watering more efficiently). Keep an eye on the weather too, so that you don't spend the afternoon watering right before a rain.

Tip #3- Think perennials, shrubs, and trees instead of annuals. With proper mulching program to stave off weeds most perennials can be a plant-once-and-forget deal. Plus perennials can be used as a money saver by dividing it and using it throughout your landscape or garden.

Tip #4- Don't forego the mulch. A small layer of newspaper under the mulch of choice will also provide an organic biodegradable landscaping fabric. Mulch will break down over the season and will help enrich the soil. It may sound less work to not mulch your garden, but you'll lose out and have to weed all bloom season. Also with any leftover mulch, consider making a compost pile. Rich humus will be yours all next season.

Tip #5- Buy one of those cheap tool aprons to carry your small ergonomic garden tools with so that you don't have to make so many trips or bend as much to pick them up. You can also consider a small child's wagon to roll around your plants so that you don't have to carry them. This may seem a bit lazy, but remember that you can garden longer and get more accomplished when you aren't as tired.

As you can see, with just a little foresight, most gardeners can bask in the glory of a wonderful colorful garden without putting stress or strain on their body or wallets.

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