How to Save Money » Frugal Living

How to garden the frugal way

Frugal gardening.

How to Garden

Frugal gardening is something I have been talking about with family a lot lately because I have been considering creating a garden in our backyard. Many of them think it can’t be done. “Gardening is expensive, there is no way to save any money”, says my grandma. “If you buy cheap plants, your garden will be ugly”, says my cousin.

I checked with my good friend (who has the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen!), and she begs to differ. She is very frugal and tells me there are many ways to save money on gardening. With her help, I have compiled this list of 7 ways that you can garden the frugal way.

Start with small plants

Plants are priced by the size, so to minimize gardening costs, start with smaller plants (until you get the hang of things and feel comfortable spending a bit more money).

Start plants from seed

You can save an incredible amount of money by growing plants yourself, instead of purchasing them directly from a nursery or home improvement store.

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk will always save you money when it comes to plants for your garden, but doing so will likely leave you with excess. To save by purchasing in bulk, get a bunch of friends in on the purchase. This way, you all save!

Host a plant swap

Just like buying in bulk is a great thing to do with some friends, so is hosting a plant swap. Each year, go through your garden and trade some plants with your friends. This adds variety to your garden and also creates fun memories.

Plant Swap


Make your own fertilizer

Creating your own fertilizer is a great way to save money on gardening and thankfully, it’s very easy to do (and it’s much more natural than commercial fertilizer). Here is a great tutorial: DIY fertilizer from kitchen leftovers.

Buy cheap gardening items

If you can get your hands on some used (but still in good shape) gardening tools – do it! There’s no need to go brand new. If they are of good quality, gardening tools will last a very long time. Also, consider re-using items you already have for gardening tools – start seeds in egg cartons, make a watering can from a milk jug, etc.

Collect water

Instead of using your own water and racking up your water bill, use a rain barrel to collect rainwater. Use that to water your garden instead. You can buy rain barrels at most nurseries and home improvement stores, but they are also pretty easy to make yourself. Here is a rain barrel tutorial for you.

DIY Rain Barrel

Gardening is such a fun part of spring and summer, but it is not often very cheap – unless you are smart about it. By following just a few of these gardening tips, you will be able to enjoy your garden, without spending a ton of cash on it.

Do you have any tips for saving money on gardening?


  1. Jen

    The Bargain! Shop has the $0.99 packages of seeds for $0.39 all summer. Seeds can last for awhile, depending on the type, so it’s great to stock up on them!

    Also check out farmers markets. Sometimes they sell fresh seeds or give them away for free or as an addition when you buy stuff. 🙂

  2. Lindsey

    We grow from seed, however occasionally we buy slips from our farmers market, much cheaper then box stores! I’ve commonly found tomato plants there for 1 a piece. Also to get the most bang for your buck, grow vegetables and fruits that have to be hand picked like green beans, peas, okra, blueberries, strawberries. They tend to be more expensive from farmers because of the labor cost to pick them.

  3. Viginia

    Where is the best place to buy plants? Nurseries (which I have the preconception of being more expensive), home improvement stores, or stores like Walmart or grocery stores? Or are you better off just watching for sales?

  4. teachermum

    Let everyone you know that you will take their plant divisions. You’d be amazed at what people just toss because they need to divide perennials and have no one to give them to! I’ve come home to find a bag with chunks of plants in it sitting by my garage just because they knew I’d use it.

    • Maggie

      Further to this idea … join your local Freecycle group! In my city every spring there are a few people who are thinning out their perennials and they offer up their extras on Freecycle (for free of course!). If you’re not too shy about doing this you can also post “wanted” ads for perennials, any extra leftover annuals for that matter, garden tools or even rain barrels / compost bins. If you’re uncomfortable straight out asking for things by way of a “wanted” post just keep an eye out for the “offers” as in my city every year at least once per season there is somebody offering all that I’ve just mentioned.

  5. Mimi

    I maximise my garden also by using the square foot gardenning techniques. Not only is it very pretty, but by taking advantage of vertical gardenning, you increase your yield in small spaces. It’s a great gardenning technique, it’s worth checking it out 😉

  6. theresa

    I have a garden in my backyard but I only grow fruits, veggies and herbs. Doesnt cost much but produces alot. I bought a raspberry plant 3 years ago for $10, in 3 years has grown alot without alot of attention and produces alot of fresh raspberries, I usually buy lettuce seeds for about $1 or $2 a pack (the one pack will last a year or 2 depending on how much lettuce you want to grow) the leaf lettuce will grow quickly throughout the summer. All summer I have fresh herbs and at the end of the season I will dry out or freeze the plants to use throughout the winter, I also save the seeds from the plants to grow next year (herbs are easy to grow and grow quickly from seed.) I bought chives and oregano 3 years ago for about $1.50 each and they grow back like crazy every year

  7. Louise

    we got some plants through freecycle and from neighboors. We have gotten seeds as freebies at tradeshows, weddings and even at a marathon runner’s expo! We bought all our lawn and garden tools at garage sales (downsizing sales & estate sales). We got free compost free from our local waste collection site and also bought a rainbarrel through them for far less than those sold in stores. We also use the square foot garden method. Another thing to do is to coordinate with neighbors to trade excess that can not be preserved. We were fortunate to have a pear tree in our yard. You can also find tutorials online for how start plants fromscraps from farmer’s market veggies like onion, green onion and garlic.

  8. Holli

    wood chips. then you dont have to water or fertilize. keep an eye for the electric company when they trim trees=free. the video back to eden will explain all of the questions about irrigation, pests, fertiliztion, and weeds.

  9. Christine

    Does anyone know if it’s legal to attach your rain barrel to your downspout in Ontario. I seem to recall hearing something about downspouts have to run away from your house.

  10. Brenda

    I save money on gardening by always asking if the store is selling split bags. The contents are the same (maybe a little has spilled out) but the savings are 25-50% off..Also I price match by using flyeronfire and entering what I am looking for. Home depot, the Canadian superstore, walmart, and Cdn. Tire will match other stores if you bring in the flyers. I never buy compost cause I make my own, also I get manure for free by helping at a friends farm. Oh yeah I also make my own leaf mold mulch by collecting leaf bags in the fall and processings them. One more thing – straw hay bales are free for the taking after Halloweén they make great mulch and dry material for my composters

  11. Carole Robb Bisson

    I make my own compost and only buy soil or cedar chips when they are on serious sale. I always buy small plants because the compost is all they need. I fill all empty plastic household jugs with water and store that for the summer.
    I sustained big time damage from the heavy snow and ice this year.
    To repair the dog fence, I used 3 rows of tires , three high. I stuff leaves inside the where the tube would be and then the home made compost, soil and plants.
    It looks just fine and I am hoping to try some bulbs.
    I do what I can with what is at hand, and it is joyful.

  12. Lisa Anne

    Great tips as always. It is good to know other gardeners and you can then trade plants. Also using a small green house and cold frames that can be build from free recycled materials is a good plan. You can garden longer in the season.

  13. Nicole

    Check with your local city works yard for free plants, bulbs, soil, mulch, compost, etc. Our town offers up free extras a few times a year. I just got 2 bags of tulip & daffodil bulbs to plant for next year.

  14. Nicole

    Our town also has community gardens where people can rent a plot to garden. Ask the gardeners there if they want to trade plants or produce.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*