Hooray, spring is here! We can look forward to beautiful and blooming gardens. Some people spend a fortune on gardens and landscaping, but you don’t have to. Here are ten thrifty tips for a great looking garden.
1. Do your research for free
You can read back issues of Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine from 2005 through this year and get lots of great tips to grow a healthy, organic garden.
2. Easy post-winter cleanup
You’ll need to wait until the snow is thawed and your garden is no longer muddy. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris. This allows light and air to the soil level, encouraging your garden to grow.
3. Fix the bald spots
If your lawn is mostly okay but just has a few bare patches, rake the soil, then mix some soil with a couple of scoops of grass seed and spread in the patch you’re fixing. Rake again and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass grows.
4. Lawn Mower Maintenance
Get your lawn mower checked and blades sharpened before you start using it for the season. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier, and a well-maintained mower is less likely to break down and require expensive repairs or replacement.
5. Forget the fancy pots
If you’re starting seeds indoors, you don’t need to drop a lot of cash on fancy pots or drip trays. Hit your local thrift store and pick up plates to use as drip trays; they’ll likely cost you only 25 cents each. You might find flowerpots there too. For example, find your nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army Store. Or you can use empty plastic containers, and just punch holes in the bottoms with a nail.
6. Skip the seeds
True, starting plants from seeds is the cheapest option to obtain plants for your garden. But it’s not quick. If you really want to save time, you’ll want to buy plants that are already started for you. When you’re ready to start planting, scour the sale prices at places such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot and your local garden stores. I’ve found potted flowers for maybe a dollar or two per pot. Be prepared to compromise on the kinds of flowers and plants you select. In most locations, very exotic, unusual plants will cost more; stick with simple geraniums and pansies or whatever flowers are appropriate and cheap in your climate. For maximum impact, choose an array of bright cheerful colors.
7. Cheap tools
As always, your local dollar store is a treasure trove. You’ll find garden tools, gloves and more.
8. Make your mark
Use slats from broken mini-blinds to create easy-to-see, durable plant labels. Get a fine point marker to write with.
9. Plant away
Okay, now your garden is ready for planting your flowers. Use your dollar store tools to dig the holes. If you are transferring potted plants, take them out of their containers and gently loosen up the roots so they aren’t all tightly compressed. Just be careful not to rip the roots apart. Then carefully place the plant in the hole you dug, and lightly pat the soil down around it.
10. Water, water everywhere
Of course you’ll want to water your garden unless you live in a constantly rainy climate. No need for costly watering cans. An empty, clean plastic gallon milk jug will be just fine. Once a week watering is enough, if you live in a moderate climate such as mine along the East Coast.
Photo Credit via Flickr