The Home Depot Garden Center was hopping the last weekend. With many of us experiencing beautiful spring weather it is fun to get out in the yard and make our lawns look welcome and inviting, and keep our neighbors happy. It is easy to get carried away with all the products available to help beautify the yard or grow some veggies. Here are a few frugal gardening tips that will hopefully help you save money and enjoy a nice lawn/ garden all summer.
Make Your Own Compost Bin
My DIY compost bin tutorial is the second most read post on my site, so you don’t want to miss it! You can spend $50 to $300 on a fancy composter or you can make your own for under $20! It is so easy even your kids can make it! Making your own compost is a great way to reduce garbage and fertilize your flower/ vegetable beds.
Use Recycled Containers to Start Seeds
Instead of buying little seed pots, I’ve used egg cartons, yogurt containers, and cereal boxes to “start” my seeds. Although it is a little late in the season to be starting seeds this year, you can remember this tip for 2012.
Mulch Your Beds With Shredded Paper and Newspaper
Instead of spending a lot of money on mulch, use shredded newspaper and paper to fill your beds or flower pots, then cover the top with mulch or dirt. Even though mulch isn’t super expensive, it can add up if you are buying 30 bags.
Share With A Neighbor
Ann (from my Facebook page) said, “My neighbors and I all plant different things and then share our bounty with one another. Me: beans, zucchini, and herbs. Next door: lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. Across the street: yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, cukes and jalapenos. That way we all benefit without having to keep up a huge garden in our yards.”
This is a great idea if you have a small yard. Anyone who has planted tomato or squash knows you often harvest much more food than one family can eat from a few plants. Sharing with your neighbors is a great way to maximize a small growing space.
Small Space Gardening
Before you sell your house in the suburbs so you can have a garden, read Square Foot Gardening. You do not need a lot of space to garden, you don’t even need a yard. Many plants will grow in pots, and you can grow herbs on your windowsill.
Connie has a great frugal gardening post on how to grow plants close together which saves money and space.
Trade Your Seeds (FREE)
Garden Web has a forum that allows you to trade unwanted seeds. This program has been a around for a while and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a great way to get rid of unwanted seeds and trade for seeds you do want.
Invest in Heirloom Seeds
Wendy (from Facebook) recommends investing in heirloom seeds the first year. Using heirloom seeds mean you can harvest and store your own seeds and use them over.
Save on Mulch/ Potting Soil
Most stores will discount bags of mulch and dirt that have tears in the packaging. You only lose a little bit of mulch with a torn bag, but you save around 50% per bag. Remember to check for mulch sales. Usually the big home improvement stores will run a super discounted price on mulch in the spring for a weekend. Don’t miss the sale because the discounts are huge!
Buy Perennial Plants
If you want to save money over time stay away from annuals. Yes, they are pretty and will brighten up your yard, but there is a reason they are called annuals. Annually you will need to spend money to replace them. Perennials cost more in the beginning, but you maintain them, they last for years, saving over the long term.
DIY Weed/ Bug Killer
Instead of spending money on expensive fertilizers and weed killers make your own with safe ingredients. Lee Ann says she uses sugar mixed with cinnamon and chili powder which feeds your soil and kills weeds. The cinnamon and chili pepper keep bugs at bay. She also uses eggshells around the base of the plants and edge of the garden to keep snails and slugs at away.
I’ve also heard from many people that vinegar kills weeds. Vinegar is cheap and won’t hurt your kids or pets. Be careful though, it kills grass too.
It is easier to spend a little time and energy weeding and taking care of your yard than letting it go for months. You will end up paying more to mulch your beds, re-sod your yard, or take care of a major bug problem if you don’t maintain it on a regular basis.
Along with taking care of your yard, take care of your garden tools. I often see tools at yard sales in very good condition. Make sure you keep them in good condition by not leaving them outside to rust or break. Heather from Home Ec 101 recommends sharpening your lawn mower blade if you want to do anything other than a close cut. A dull blade will either tear the grass or bend it over. Many people think it is better to leave your grass longer, especially in the south. Longer grass is healthier and has better weed control.