- Establish a Good Idea of Your Goals - visit public gardens, take snapshots of favorite gardens, tear our magazine photos - then make a list of desired plants, where they will go, and stick to it. Ask a neighbor for advice - gardeners love to share, especially from a gardener in an admired garden.
- Make Your Own Fertilizer - Why have your grass clippings, leaves, and garbage hauled away - then buy fertilizer? Make a compost pile for next to nothing - with some recycled chicken wire, old hay bales, etc.
- What's Free? Leaves, grass, wood clippings from your municipality, coffee grounds from local cafes, shredded newspaper - anything biodegradable except animal byproducts. Check consdtruction sites for free bricks & stones for paths & borders. Look for website bargains such as deals on trees through the National Arbor Day Foundation.
- Use What You Have (or Scrounge) - Grow seedlings in egg shells (those not headed for the compost pile), or use any small containers or egg cartons. Plant the seedlings right in the egg shells. Make a wall-o-water out of plastic jugs, make a cloche from a milk jug, use discarded dresser drawers/old toolboxes as containers, recycle salvage window frames into cold frames.
- Get the Most Mileage from Your Plant Choices - Choose vegetables with the best yield such as climbing peas and other varieties that grow vertically, grow plants that are lovely and attract beneficials & butterflies. Maximize your garden - Pay a water bill - choose drought tolerant plants that thrive in your zone.
- Hook up with a Gardening Buddy - Share seeds, tools, buy bulk products that you can split such as potting mix, less expensive in large size. Join a local garden club or check with your extension office to find a garden buddy. Approach like-minded neighbors about sharing costs of bulk items or machinery rental fees.
- Expand Your Plant Horizons by finding alternative ways to get new plants - look for plant swaps, garden club plant sales, exchange plants with a friend or arrange a neighborhood plant exchange. Inspect all plants for diseases & insect problems. Mailorder plants are smaller than those in nurseries, but are usually less expensive. Arboretums & botanical gardens often hold plant sales.
- Buy When Prices are Low - perennials in the fall for example and trees shrubs mulch & soil are all less expensive late in the season. Lumber is less expensive in the winter - if you are planning to build raised beds or a deck (buy untreated lumber).
Budget landscaping fits right into the organic principles - gardening the right way for a specific location is a much better guarantee of success than trying to force a garden or work to grow plants that don't thrive in your environment. That said, here are eight great ideas, gathered from our sources around the country, for a better garden on a budget: