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By Fred Yancy, Broker | Broker in Woodstock, GA

How To Grow A $100 Per Year Garden

How To Grow A $100 Per Year Garden

By Melissa J. Will

How To Grow A Great Garden On A Small Budget

These cheap garden ideas are offered for anyone starting a new garden on a very low budget. Truthfully, when I started my first garden from scratch, I probably should not have been spending even $100 per year, but I did it anyways.

More than anything, I wanted to have a beautiful garden despite the fact that I knew next to nothing about gardening. I simply started digging and let experience be my teacher.

When it comes to saving money, I endorse any frugal approaches that are legal, ethical, beneficial to the environment, and cause no harm to others.

Here you will see all of the ways I saved money growing perennials (mostly flowering ones), fruit trees and berries, vegetables, and a few annuals (you’ll see why below).

I hope you will find some useful ideas and encouragement to start your garden, no matter how small or what your location is.

Gardening is a brilliant love affair that can quite happily carry you through your entire life if you let it.

Getting Started In Gardening

When I started my first garden, I set a budget of $100 a year simply because that’s about all we could afford. While figuring out cheap garden ideas started out as a necessity, as time went on, it turned into a fun challenge.

Even when I could spend more, I wanted to see what I could accomplish while staying within that initial budget. And living debt-free has its own rewards.

Getting a garden you love without spending a lot of money doesn’t really have a magical formula. It’s really just takes patience and effort.

You have to be willing to spend some time finding the right items at the best price, accept that there will probably be some extra physical labor involved hauling your finds and fixing them up, and non-conformist creativity always helps.

I had to let go of fixed ideas about how things ‘should’ be, and open up to new and unique ways of making a beautiful garden.

Sorry, No Gazebo For You!

The one thing the $100 budget can’t bring you is good professional landscaping, hardscaping with fences, arbors, and other structures, or major structural changes to improve the grade of the property or other shortcomings.

If you have these building skills-great, but even salvaged materials will probably go way beyond the frugal budget I’m talking about here. So put all that aside and look at what you can do with a small budget and determination. The bigger ticket items like fences, sheds, arbors, and decks can come later.

Ways I Save Money In the Garden

Many of these ideas are not only good for the wallet and benefit the plants, but are good for the environment as well. Triple play!

Collect Rain Water

  • Use rain barrels or other containers to collect rain water. $Free

Minimal Watering

  • Do not grow plants that need coddling. To me, all perennials, once established, should be able to tolerate normal seasonal droughts.
  • I do not water my grass lawn or garden beds. The only exception is newly planted plants and containers. $Free

Do Not Water Or Fertilize Grass Lawn

  • I never water or fertilize (or chemically treat) my grass lawn and i only cut it infrequently (using a push mower).
  • During summer droughts, it goes dormant and dry-looking but that’s the nature of the beast. And the good news is, dormant grass doesn’t grow or need cutting. $Free

No Harmful Chemicals

  • Yes, a home garden is an investment, but when your livelihood does not depend on it, is there really any justification for poisoning the environment to deal with a pest problem?
  • Avoid fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides.
  • To enrich the soil, I rely on compost and mulch created from my own food scraps, fallen leaves, and branches.
  • Pest control is done on an individual basis, often relying on hand-picking to get rid of the beasts. 
  • I also have this list of natural pest remedies from talks given by master, organic gardeners.
  • If pest problems reoccur, look at the cause. Sometimes rearranging plants, avoiding broad patches of one type of plant is enough to confuse the bug(gers). $Free

Budget For Good Compost & Soil

  • How does a new gardener know if their soil is good for growing? Look for clues. Ask neighbors. See what’s growing around your home. Is it thriving?
  • My first garden was solid clay soil. So solid I could not get a shovel into the ground with standing on the shovel and jumping up and down with all my might/weight. That’s not good soil!
  • The biggest mistake I made when starting out as a gardener was to avoid buying good compost before I could produce enough of my own.
  • I could write a novel on the value of good soil, particularly the top 6 inches or so. It’s precious, essential, and the key to healthy plants.
  • Recently we moved to a new home and I started my current garden from scratch. Knowing better, I put a bulk of my current budget into improving the soil. Think of it as plant insurance. $Good Investment with long term returns

Use Your Leaves

  • It’s common practice in many areas to rake up leaves and send them away each fall. Unless they are diseased, this is a big waste of a valuable resource for the garden.
  • Leaves are an incredibly rich source of nutrients for your garden.
  • I save all the leaves I can get (and ask the neighbors for theirs as well). I break them down with the weed whacker and spread them over the garden beds.
  • Think of how a forest thrives: those fallen leaves are not just protection for the soil below but breakdown into a big dose of nutrients. $Free

Watch For Good Yard Waste

  • Not only do people throw away all sorts of useful household items, but they also dispose of a lot of garden items such as plants, pots, and tools that may just need a little TLC to be in good working order once again (or repurposed into garden art).
  • Another favourite find is branches and tree stumps. If there is no sign of disease, I take them home and use them. I’ve made fences, trellis, plant supports, chairs. $Free

Find Plants – Cheap Or Free

  • Paying full price at the start of the gardening season is expensive and unnecessary.
  • You can find plants free, barter, trade, or buy at a deep discount instead.
  • This can work if you don’t get completely fixated on having a particular plant NOW.

Here’s some alternate suggestions:

  • Tell everyone you know what you are wanting. It’s amazing how much stuff (including plants) is just sitting around waiting for you to say you need it.
  • Check yard sales, horticultural society and garden club plant sales.
  • Watch for ads for plants and other outdoor stuff like garden pots, furniture, trellises, bricks, stones– some even say you can take them free of charge if you dig them up.
  • Place your own ads asking for free plants (or barter).
  • Watch for deep discount days at garden nurseries and end of season sales.
  • Find out about member’s discounts and discounts for store clubs and horticultural society members. $Free or $Cheap

Share Resources

This idea will work as well as your neighbors are good!

To see the entire article go to http://www.empressofdirt.net/cheapgardenideas/

Fred Yancy, Broker

Crye-Leike Realtors

(678) 799-4663


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