Many moons ago, I used to work for Van Bourgondien, a flowerbulb and perennial company, as their Web Content & Internet Marketing Manager. When I first started there, I barely knew what a bulb was, let alone how to dig up and store them over the winter. But after a few years of working there, my head was full of gardening wisdom and my garden beds benefited from it.
Long gone are my direct mail gardening days, but my knowledge and memories are still intact, especially when it comes to the "unsellables". One of my most favorite times of the year, was when spring faded into summer and we could no longer sell any remaining spring bulbs and perennials because they were past their prime for shipping.
Why did this make me so happy? Because even though we received very solid discounts on anything sold via the catalogs, Dumpster Diving Days used to be, hands-down, the most fun at work that I've ever had! There is something to be said for rescuing a perfectly good Calla Lily, or Elephant Ear, or Canna out of the dumpster to watch it thrive under your tender loving care at home!
Anyways, over the years, I've learned a few tricks of the gardening trade that can help you save some money and I thought I would share them with you. Not all of them may fit into your own gardening style, but they work for me - and they save me money - which means that I have more money to spend on more gardening goods. And that works for me - and my pocketbook!
4 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON GARDENING
1.) Don't buy plants at the height of the season - wait a few weeks for the sales.
As long as you don't care too much about all of your planters being filled in "on time", you can save a bundle on plants. I leave my two biggest planters unplanted until mid-July because by then, our local gardening centers are putting everything on sale.
On a recent trip to my beloved Stables Nursery, I couldn't believe that their perennials and shrubs were already being discounted at 25%! These plants were in great shape, with solid root systems and no bug damage - but they were still being discounted anyways because the gardening season is past its prime on Long Island. I happily snatched up some Proven Winners perennial grasses - panicum virgatum 'Cheyenne Sky' to be exact - and several pots of their gorgeous potato vine varieties that were also on sale!
2.) Don't forget to look for the "Not So Pretty" carts.
In my local Lowes store, they have a rack or two of plants that have unofficially been deemed "not pretty enough" to keep on the main shelves. So they move these plants to a far away corner of the lot, so that novice gardners will see the prettier, showier plants first. Now in terms of marketing, this is brilliant. But in terms of practicality...well, I always go hunting for the plants that are just in need of a little TLC from a gardener like me.
Since I always root for the underdog, whenever I see a plant that can thrive again with just some basic love from me, I snatch it up. On my recent trip to Lowes, I scored pots of Vinca major 'Variegata' for only a buck a piece!! And they were in very good condition - I was really surprised that they were banished to the sales rack. (Speaking of being banished, does anyone remember Franks Nursery? It was my favorite place to unwind and snatch up lots of plants off of their discounted racks!)
3.) Save money on potting soil whenever you can! (And, more importantly, be nice to the gardening staff!)
My husband and I have been shopping at Stables Nursery, for over 13 years, so the gardening staff know us well. On a recent trip to the nursery, they saw us trying to multiply out how many bags of a certain Name Brand potting soil we would need for our monsterous whiskey barrels. One of the older guys pulled us aside and told us that if we bought the 3 cubic feet of Growers Mix instead, we'd save a ton of money. They also told us that they've been receiving industry-wide complaints about the said Name Brand because the potting soil has been showing large traces of sticks in the mix. Not only were we happy to save a chunk of change, but we also found another local business to support, Long Island Compost, which made us happy too.
I will also note that you can save even more money by using your recyclables to fill your pots up halfway before adding potting soil.
4.) Buy expensive planters once and reuse them year after year (or better yet, score them for free)!
My sister's mother-in-law (we call her Busia) is a regular reader of our blog. She's one of our most loyal fans (and ego-boosters), and we appreciate her opinions about which posts really spark her interest. So when she came across our Pinterest Projects: Bird Cage Succulent Planter post, she called Daniele right away to tell her that she had the "perfect planters" for us to use in one of our gardening projects.
I could barely believe our luck - Busia has great taste and if she envisioned something hanging from our rafters, then so be it. Needless to say, we were psyched to receive these lovely planters for my front porch. (Yep, that's right. I stole them right out from under my sister's nose - I told her they matched my blue front door better than hers!)
So, scour Craigslist, your neighors' trash, or your mother-in-law's garage for all sorts of planting goodies because you never know what gems are hiding in plain sight! As I mentioned in Tip #1 - now is the perfect time to go buy some of the gorgeous planters that you wanted "in season", but didn't want to spend the money on. Everything is being discounted to make way for fall merchandise!
Denine, The Dumpster Diver