5 Ways to Save Money Gardening

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Want to have a lovely garden this summer but are afraid of the expense? Here are some ways to save money gardening that you might not have thought of yet!

Ways to Save Money Gardening

5 Ways to Save Money Gardening

There is nothing like gardening in the summer.

My obsession begins every year in January when the seed catalogs start arriving. Then it overflows in February when I place my seed orders after carefully combing over the catalogs for the past month. There is the long wait of March as it’s too early to start planting. April arrives, and my longer season seeds get started indoors, and I get a little taste of dirt in my hands.

Finally, May arrives, and I ignore the stinging in my back as I hunch over to plant rows and rows of seeds. My heart is so full and overflowing with joy that I’m finally outside, and I’m finally able to begin growing some green that it’s hard not to burst into song. Oh, who cares? You KNOW that’s me out in the garden when you can hear the singing half a mile down the road.

I may not be the best gardener in the world, but I love it.

Harvesting your own food can bring so much joy and fulfillment.

Gardening can be an expensive hobby. Even if you are creating a garden to feed your family and grow your own groceries to save money on your grocery bill and avoid the grocery store, there can still be off-putting costs involved that make it hard to get going.

Today I will share with you 5 ways to save money gardening so that you can make the most of your experience on a very tight budget.

Garden Carrots

How to Save Money Gardening

1. Use what you have.

Whatever you have. Although certain gardening helps and tools are nice to have, it can be hard to afford to buy things new, especially when you are just starting and need a lot of things. Learn to be creative and use what you already have!

In our garden, I prefer several types of plants growing up (pole green beans, cucumbers, peas, etc). I do not have room in my budget to buy brand new trellis or materials to make a new one. To create the fences we use for climbing plants, we dragged some old hog paneling out of the tall grass in our pasture, left here by the previous owner.

We also plan on needing more soon, so we will remove the paneling used in part of our pasture fence (put up by the previous owner) and replace it with a different kind of fencing. We need to replace the fencing anyway, so we already have that figured into our budget, but it just makes sense to give the old fencing a new purpose!

For other repurposed fences, you could use pallets or other things that you might be able to get for free.

Skip buying labels and markers and make your own out of cardboard, thick paper, rocks, or anything else that you have around your home.

–Want to teach your kids to garden? Here are my tips for Introducing Little Ones to Garden!

Garden Seeds

2. Take advantage of a plant swap or learn to save seeds.

Although at around $2 – $3 per packet of seeds, they don’t seem very expensive; seeds can add up when you start to buy 10+ varieties of seeds. Participating in a seed or plant swap can help bring this cost down since you only will need to plant a few varieties and can swap for the rest. Watch on Facebook to find neighborhoods holding plant sales or swaps.

You can also learn how to save seeds and the cost of seeds altogether by following a few simple seed-saving rules at the end of the growing season.

–Learn more about How to Save Seeds here.

Garden Tomatoes

3. Make your own garden amendments and pesticides.

There are so many different things that you can make homemade to help your garden that will not only save you from putting chemicals on your plants and vegetables but can save you a bundle in the store.

I have my favorite Garden Pest Spray recipe in my book, Little House Living, (made with essential oils!), but this Homemade Bug Spray for Gardens also works very well for bugs.

Regarding soil amendments, Epsom Salt can be a great way to add magnesium and sulfur to the soil, and it’s very inexpensive. You can also make this awesome Banana Fertilizer Plant Spray out of old banana peels. For a general fertilizer, we personally prefer to use cow manure, it’s free and readily available to us! You could also look into using Potato Water, another free resource!

Of course, don’t forget to turn your kitchen scraps into a healthy compost pile. Making compost bins can be simple…we have ours in a pile in the meadow! Adding nutrients to your garden is much more frugal than you thought.

Garden Plants

4. Consider making common garden helps yourself.

I really enjoy using Coconut Fiber Pots or plastic trays to start my garden seeds in, but when my budget doesn’t allow room for extras, I’ve planted my starts in Newspaper Seedling Holders before. They don’t cost anything to make and very simple to put together. You can also egg cartons or use eggshells to make plant starters.

I also usually use soil from my garden instead of potting for garden plants and any flowers I plant in pots. It doesn’t always work as well as potting soil, but sacrifices must be made when your budget is very tight!

You can easily make your own Garden Mulch; you don’t have to get it from the store. Of course, you can make your own compost as well. That’s something I hope to get started on myself this year. Think about other things you could make yourself (some of this plays into just being creative with what you have, like I mentioned above). You can also use grass clippings, cardboard, and other common household items for mulch as well.

Need a soaker hose? Take an old hose that you aren’t using anymore. Put a few holes into it where they are needed to water the plants…perfect soaker hose! My husband did this for us to water our newly planted trees this year. He took some old hoses and poked holes in them the exact distance apart as the trees are from each other. Now, all we need to do is haul our water cart down by the trees, hook up the hose and let it do all of the work. Money-saving and time-saving!

You can also save money on water when watering your garden. Use a rain barrel or container set up under your downspouts to collect rainwater for your vegetable garden. Using this method, we’ve gathered up to 500 gallons of water per rainstorm.

–Brand new to Gardening? Read my Need-To-Know Tips here!

Garden Potatoes

5. Be efficient.

If you aren’t using a well for your water and you have to pay for all of the water that you use, make sure that you set your garden to be as efficient as possible. Place soaker hoses where you can and only use sprinklers where necessary.

Monitor the amount of water you use and only use what you need. Place plants as close together as possible (use a trellis to lift them up if you are concerned they might not have enough space) so that you have less ground to water and mulch. Using less space also might lessen the number of gardening tools needed but shouldn’t lessen your yields unless you over-crowd.

Onions, lettuce, spinach, or herbs could be planted underneath taller things like tomato plants.

Share with us! What are some ways to save money gardening that you have discovered?

Find more tips on gardening and planting a garden on my Gardening 101 page!

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Garden JournalThe Gardening and Preserving Journal is here! If you are gardening or planning on doing any preserving this year, you NEED this wonderful sprial bound journal! Get your own copy here.

Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.


This blog post on How to Save Money Gardening was originally published on Little House Living in May 2016. It has been updated as of May 2023.

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  1. Great tips! We’ve been gardening on an extremely tight budget for a while now and I’ve learned that you can garden in just about anything. We drill holes into the bottom of Dollar Tree containers and buckets and make small container gardens.

    I always start my seeds in Dixie cups and have had amazing results! I’ll definitely have to try your newspaper technique next year though so I can just stick my little seedlings in the ground.

  2. Love your gardening advice. I too am on a tight budget. I get clear glass cheese covers or cake covers at garage sales and use them for mini greenhouses and protection from a surprise frost. God bless you all!

  3. Great advice! Thank you! I had thought of some of those, but not others. And the homemade pesticide recipe looks intriguing.

  4. I enjoy your newsletter/blog every few days. I very much enjoyed your video of your garden .. a lot to care for, but so worth it. I use a combination of drip hoses on full rows, and for my tomatoes and peppers, I sink a plastic bottle/jug upside down right beside each plant .. cut the bottom off, leave the top off and sink top down. I use hose to fill each bottle daily (or whenever it’s empty). This deep-waters the plants, encouraging them to sink deep roots, and saves us a lot of water. Another benefit, each time I fill the bottle, I examine the plants for pests or yellow leaves, etc. Also, use manure tea weekly in the bottle .. no fertilizer waste, again goes to deep roots.

  5. Great tips, thank you! I call my husband the king of repurposing. Nothing hits the trash pile until it is completely broken, disassembled and used up. Thank God for a good man!!

    I stuff lavatory rolls (spoken with an English accent…sounds SO much better than ‘toilet paper rolls’) with potting soil, and they make excellent seed-starting pots. And no folding necessary!

    For the tiny seeds, I’ve made seed tape with newspaper strips and paste. But I’ve had the best results with the seeds mixed into homemade cornstarch gel. Use an old squeeze bottle to squirt them right into the ground in a straight line. The gel feeds them awhile and keeps them moist.

    And, we’ve started gardening with chickens. We feed them a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden (the seconds and scraps) so that nothing is wasted, and they feed us with eggs and provide awesome compost. We found a tree trimming company that will deliver wood mulch out into the country. We put that down in the chicken pen along with grass clippings in the spring and summer and with leaves in the fall. They do the composting for us. Each year we pull out piles of dark, rich compost for our gardens.

    Love your website!

  6. Not there yet with gardening. You have given me some great ideas when we start up with this again!

  7. Great tips! You are so right, it can be very expensive hobby or to add curb appeal. Thanks for joining th DI & DI Link Party. Have a great week!

  8. These are definitely great tips!

    I would love for you to share this with my Recipe and Crafts Facebook group.

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  9. Loved it!! These are all really great tips! Every Spring I say I am going to start a container veggies garden…and become exhausted just thinking about it! You have inspired me to actually do it! Thank you for sharing your wonderful creativity with us at Friday Favorites! Please join us again…and we would love to see you at our Wonderful Wednesday Link Party too, every Tuesday at 4PM! Hugs- Christine at Must Love Home

  10. I am looking to get started gardening but I only have a small area I can plant in since I am renting. Any tips for a first time gardener with only a small area? I don’t even know where to begin.

  11. Lots of great tips. I would be careful about repurposing regular hoses as soaker hoses. Most hoses are filled with really, really bad chemicals. You can find better ones if you shop carefully, but they are often expensive. When you take an old hose and punch holes in it, you are in essence releasing anything in that hose that might have been sealed into the plastic when you punch those holes. So you’ve sped up the amount of leaching. Pthalates and such aren’t something you want added to your soil, especially if you’re growing food products. EWG has a great segment all about what’s in hoses.

  12. Lovely tips! I love gardening and swapping seeds is an excellent way of spreading the gardening love! I popped over from #DIYdreamer

  13. Great ideas. I know that I could save money by starting seeds inside for tomato plants, but just have to get brave and do it.

  14. These are all great tips. I’ll keep these in mind when I have room to expand my little garden. I’m always looking for ways to save and enjoy gardening at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Great tips! Pinned! It’s getting warmer and I’m getting the itch to get out in the yard. Thank you for sharing on Merry Monday! Hope to see ya next week!

  16. Great tips. I have an area of about 20×60 that is dedicated vegetable garden. My husband built a sturdy fence for it, its in my front yard so it had to look good. We then covered the area with layered brown grocery bags, some composted manure from friends horses, then about 6 inches of wood chips. T he first year I pulled away the chips, dropped in some soil, some granular fertilizer, and a seedling. By the next year, the chips had broken down enough that was no longer necessary. I saved a ton of money by making my raised beds with a regular hoe, chips in the paths. I like this method because it gives me a lot of flexibility to change the configuration to my beds, whenever I want. Plus, when I want to add cover crops, its easy for me to get them tilled with one shovel. I have made trellises out of limbs from the trees I prune, and some basic string. I save seeds from year to year, so my seed buying is minimal. So my actual year to year gardening cost is not much, and I can always chase down tree guys when I need more chips, they love that.

  17. Thank you for so much great advice. I had to leave behind my family’s beautiful gardens when I came to NY 11 years ago to get clean. I’m no longer a welcome visitor, though Mom & I are in touch. I am fortunate to gave a small co-op in Freeport, Long Island, but my gardening challenges are severe. A)My unit is basically 1 large L shaped room. B)I have cats who object to gardening, it seems. Basil is so far my only success. I’m working on hanging my planters from the ceiling in front of the picture window. The sad part is that while most of my neighbor’s are lovely, there’s a vocal minority of schmucks. I tried to start a gardening group, using a part of the back lawn that’s unused. Despite an overwhelmingly positive response, the squeaky wheels got their way. Would you believe they argued it would make us look like the “poor immigrants ” in the apartments across the street? Oh, Lord forbid! Anyway, thank you again. Your advice is always helpful.

  18. Finding many learning curves with gardening. I will get there. Planning lettuce, cucumbers, berries and flowers this year.

  19. Love all of these wonderful tips. Just be careful that the source that your cow or horse manure comes from hasn’t sprayed the pastures with herbicides or your gardens will be destroyed.

  20. I have been buying seeds from a nursery that packages the seeds themselves so they are much cheaper ($1.50) and ($5 for huge envelopes of corn or peas). Some hardware stores like Ace and feed stores do it also. No planting instructions on the envelope but I have planted these veggies before. The nursery has their own growers for their plants so they are much cheaper than Bonnie Plants. I can get a 6 pack of veggies for $2.50. I know seeds are cheaper but by April I’m ready to see green in the garden. I still plant tons of seeds of peas, okra, corn, etc.

  21. Love all the great ideas! I pick up netted food covers used for picnics/cookouts often times at the $1 store to cover small plant starts in the garden as needed.