Budget Garden Basics
By Kathleen Wilson
Decorating the outside of your home very often involves some type of garden. Not only can living plants add value, curb appeal, and charm to your home, gardening has been known to soothe ones soul. Gardening on a tight budget can be a challenge, but with a little knowledge, a little creativity, and a do-it-yourself spirit, it can be much more rewarding than traditional landscaping.
1. Start Small: Pick out a small spot in your yard or decide to grow in containers only and pick up a few basic pots. If you spend a whole weekend tearing up your yard your first time out, chances are you will become overwhelmed and find it an unhappy experience, not to mention a waste of money. Let the joys of growing things be a pleasure, not a chore. You can always expand your garden as you gain experience.
2. Learn Some Basics: It isn’t budget wise to but a bunch of plants, slap them in the ground without any knowledge, then watch them die. With a little education, you can be assured of a more successful garden, and save money in mistakes from the start! Some great places to get information for beginners is your local library, your nursery, and the internet. The internet is filled with garden information, just type “gardening” into your search engine, and go!
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Unusual Materials: Chunks of recycled concrete can make a wonderful retaining wall or garden border, gravel can be used for a patio instead of flagstone, plastic pots can be painted to look like stone. Plant in unusual containers to fit the style of your home. Use indoor things outdoors. Use paint (it’s cheap!) wherever possible to create an interesting fence or wall, or tie unmatched garden furniture and accessories together. Create luminaries out of tin cans and candles from the dollar store.
4. Use Nature In Nature: Make your garden an expression of what it really is, a wonder of nature. Display driftwood directly in your garden and let flowers spill over it, bring in large rocks and gravel and create faux stream beds (don’t buy them, there is bound to be a building site nearby where they would thank you for hauling the rocks away!) If you take a trip to the ocean, bring back shells and mementos to remind you of your vacation. Just remember to always know the local laws and have permission to gather.
5. Find Materials In Budget Friendly Places: Grow simple, fast growing plants from seed instead of buying more expensive plants. Sunflowers, cosmos, marigolds, zinnias and alyssum are all incredibly easy to grow from seed, at any time during the growing season. Ask your local building site if you can search their scrap piles for materials. Scrap wood can be used to create simple containers, rocks make great borders, broken tiles can be used to make mosaic stepping stones. Cut down wood can be used to make decorative fencing, old tree stumps can be beautiful with a flowering vine growing over it.
Kathy Wilson is an author, columnist, and editor of several popular websites. You can find thousands of budget decorating ideas and sign up for her free newsletter at The Budget Decorator.