Shoestring Living: Prune your garden budget

Molly Logan Anderson

Is there anything better than seeing buds appear, feeling the warmth outside for the first time in months and donning clean gardening gloves to dig in the dirt once again? For those of you with an interest in this kind of green, you know plants and all the fixings for a beautiful and productive garden can get mighty expensive.

Whether you have a treeless lot or live in a wooded area, odds are you’ll be perusing garden shops this spring looking for ways to freshen up your landscape. Luckily, there are myriad ways to get what you want without spending what you don’t have. Here are some tips for a frugal garden to remember.

Start from seed

This is new to me, but amazingly simple and cheap. For a relatively low start-up cost, you can start your own perennial seedlings in a greenhouse starter kit. (Burpee sells a 72-cell kit for $13.50.) At about $1 per seed packet, you can easily fit a few blooms into your budget. Compare this to typical gallon-size perennials that sell for $10 to $20 each.

Use what you have

Get even more frugal and forgo the greenhouse kit. There are loads of everyday recyclable containers that can be made into seed flats. Anything plastic, with a lid, is perfect. It’s my plan to start collecting now in order to try the winter sowing method found at The idea of sowing a few seeds, placing the containers outside and forgetting them, only to welcome seedlings in the spring, sounds great to me.

Keep a journal

This is more of a time saver than a money saver, but hey, time is money, right? As our yard becomes home to a few new trees and shrubs each growing season, my mind struggles to remember the needs of them all. When to prune, when will it bloom, how big will it get? All the important questions can be recalled by keeping a gardener’s journal. Tape plant cards inside and write down any other pertinent information. Next spring, when you can’t remember the pruning method for your lilac bush, the answer will be right inside your journal.

Molly Logan Anderson is a freelance writer who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Mike, three kids and black lab. Join Molly on her family’s journey of living a frugal life and making financial freedom their reality.