It’s that time of year when the weather really makes us want to get out in the garden and create some loveliness. My head is full of plans, wish lists and jobs to get done outdoors, and any spare time spent inside feels like a bit of a waste.
All this planning and excitement can end up costing you a fortune though; I think this is the hardest time of year to control your spending on the garden. I’m definitely guilty of getting it wrong and wasting money as a result, especially in my early gardening days. With that in mind, here’s my list of gardening blunders and how to avoid them, so you can be a thrifty gardener.
Obvious, but probably top of everyone’s list for ruining all good thrifty intentions. A moment of weakness at the local plant market, a 3 for 2 deal at the garden centre, or just plain old desire for beauty – it’s really, really hard to resist buying more and more plants. But if you can make yourself think about exactly where each plant is going to go in your garden, you stand a chance of only buying what you can fit in and not wasting money.
Use your existing plants to make new ones
I’ve only really got the hang of this one recently and it’s a real light-bulb moment when you work out that you can make loads more plants from the ones you already have. For free! Most plants can be propagated by dividing, taking cuttings or collecting seed. Give it a try, there’s nothing to lose.
Look after your kit
Being a thrifty gardener doesn’t stop at plants. It’s common sense, but we’ve all neglected expensive things like secateurs, lawnmowers and frost-tender terracotta pots. A little bit of maintenance can make your equipment last longer and save you a fortune.
Match your plants with their ideal conditions
A shade-loving plant won’t thrive in direct sunlight; a plant that needs alkaline soil will struggle in acidic conditions; a ‘thug’ of a plant will take over a border if left unchecked. Read the plant label before you buy and if you can’t provide the right conditions, put it back on the shelf (you’re allowed a longing sigh) and move on.
We all want our gardens to look amazing right now, thank you very much – but try to think longer term and put things in place that stop you wasting money every year. Instead of buying annuals, build up your stocks of perennial plants that will bloom year after year for free. Get yourself set up with a compost bin, and you’ll spend far less on things like fertiliser and plant food. Buy smaller and therefore cheaper plants which will get bigger over time rather than splurging on older, bigger ones. Which brings me nicely onto:
None of us has endless time to dedicate to gardening, but this is a hobby where neglect can cost so much money. If you know your gardening time is likely to be a bit stop-start, then choose tough plants that can cope with being ignored now and then. It’s far better to be realistic than to waste money on high-maintenance plants that just won’t survive.
If you garden as a hobby, by nature you’re not going to get it right every time. But I think we can all learn from each other, and it’s just as important to share our failures as it is our successes. Hopefully my mistakes will help someone else save some money and turn their garden into a thrifty thing of beauty – and if you’ve got any more thrifty gardener tips please share them! You could also check out some more thrifty garden tips from Becky over at Thrifty Home.