Frugal & Free Landscape and Garden
Did your money tree fail to produce this year? Do you want a pretty yard or a lush garden but low on cash? Have no fear, The Queen of the frugal gardeners is here! I have over 15 tips to help you have a frugal & free landscape and garden.
I am frugal for two reasons; # 1 out of need. We are a self-employed family of five who practices eating a whole food, organic diet. As you can imagine, most of our budget goes towards sustaining us. #2 I am frugal because I like a challenge and don’t believe in wasting or paying full price.
Some of this may seem like a no-brainer and some may seem like a ‘ah-ha’ moment for you. I will never claim to have invented the wheel but I can certainly make that joker roll a new way.
I will address a couple of different frugal ideas but know this, if you really want a cheap/free garden you can’t be shy. You have to be willing to speak up and ask perfect strangers for free stuff and wear your best puppy dog eyes. If you can do this, you can have a very affordable (if not completely free) landscaped yard and garden.
#5 Frugal & Free Garden Frames, Borders & Edging Ideas
If you want to frame in your landscaped/garden area here are some ideas to get free or VERY cheap materials.
#1 Craigslist Free ads
Check Craigslist daily for the free ads. This week alone I have seen; free concrete, wood, edging and pallets. These can all be used to create a free garden frame. Some may even offer a local delivery if you don’t have a truck.
#2 Salvage at Lumber Yards
Many lumber yards have a salvage of damaged lumber that has been weathered, split, warped or the customer never picked up that they sell for pennies on the dollar. All of this wood is still usable, especially for outdoor projects, you may just have to cut a couple of inches off the ends.
#3 Construction Sites
If you have any new construction in your neighborhood stop and ask the General Contractor if you can rummage through their waste for free materials for your garden. Many will be happy to oblige since they have to pay to remove the debris.
#4 Roads, Driveways, Walkways
If you notice a parking lot, sidewalk, or road getting a face-lift you can ask to have the broken concrete or asphalt chunks to create a garden wall, bed or walkway.
Oh our wonderful FREE Pallets, how I love thee…let me count the ways. Re-purposing pallets into usable products and projects has taken this country by storm. It is a huge Pinterest subject, and rightfully so. They are made from good, sturdy wood and are available for FREE. What more could you ask for?? Here are a few ideas on where to find free pallets; construction sites, furniture stores, nurseries, grocery stores, feed stores, lumber yards, and landscape businesses; just to name a few.
Now that you have some ideas where to find free framing material let’s move on to the good stuff; where to get affordable, if not free, plants for your yard.
# 12 Frugal & Free Garden and Plant Ideas
#1 Craigslist Free Ads
I know I sound redundant but it’s true! Not too long ago I posted an add free century plants on Craigslist and the response was overwhelming. The key to obtaining the free items is to check the website often. Free stuff goes quick and the first to act is the first to receive.
Seeds are the single most affordable way to buy inexpensive plants for your home. For less than the price of one plant you can get up to 100 seeds or more. To get a deal on seeds shop at the end of season sales, last year I bought seed packets for $.03 each!
#3 Seed Exchange or Seed Library
Many libraries offer a seed exchange and even our local produce store has one. Search the web to find one in your area or call your local library.
To learn more about seed libraries click here
#4 Discount Seeds
Seeds have a sell by date or a use date on the package. Many stores will discard or drastically reduce the price of seeds at the end of the season. To get a deal on seeds shop at the end of season sales, last year I bought seed packets for $.03 each! Seeds can be viable for years past their use by date, just plant more of them or perform a germination test. Learn more about how to test for seed viability here.
# 5 Seeds From Your Food
If you buy organic or locally grown produce, you can save the seeds from the food you eat and grow your own plants from the seeds you save. I have a permanent shelf over my sink that you will always find seeds drying from the food I cooked for dinner .
To learn more about how to save seeds from your food click here
#6 Regrow From Scraps
You can regrow plants from many foods you are already eating. Buy once, eat again and again. It’s recycling at its finest. We have re-grown: celery, onions, potatoes, pineapple, avocado, and lettuce.
This is an article about 25 foods you can re-grow from scraps click here to read more
While starting a plant from a clipping may seem daunting, it is actually easier than you think. Ten years ago my mom broke off a twig from a fig tree at a store, we stuck it in the ground (literally) and now that twig is almost 15 feet tall and produces a bounty of figs every year!
Click here to find out more about how to grow more plants from clippings
#8 Divide an Existing Plant
Many perennial plants and annual herbs can be divided and or rooted to create additional plants. There are also a lot of plant varieties that produce babies or pups, that you can easily start a whole new plant with such as; century plants, spider plants, aloe plants, banana plants, and many palms.
Read more here about how to divide plants
#9 Big Box Home Supply Stores
Shopping at our big box home store (I won’t say any names but it rhymes with Some Heap O’) I was asking a sales clerk when they would put their plants on clearance for the end of the year. She informed me they no longer reduce the plants because it is more profitable for them to just throw them away! She said it was against their policy to even let the customers take the ones out of the trash. She was kind enough to turn her head and I pillaged and plundered my way through their trash can and came out with a bounty fit for Martha Stewart. Talk to the garden manager and ask if you can help reduce their waste by taking these plants destined for the landfill and give them a new life.
So if you are visiting a big box store take a peak in the trash, you never know what garden goodies are lurking in there.
#10 Charlie Brown Sections
Many nurseries have a section for plants past their prime, have seen better days or have gone dormant for the season and look like dead sticks. They will offer these plants for free or at a hefty discount for you to take them off their hands. The best time to ask nurseries is at the end of a season, especially in the fall for trees. Nurseries have to care for their trees and protect them from the winter weather, they would much rather sell them to you for a discount than to overwinter them. With a little love and care they will bounce back without a hitch, again for free or at a fraction of the cost.
As I am writing this post (April) I had to go to the local nursery to buy some herbs for a workshop and I asked if they had anything in their Charlie Brown section, I scored big! They gave me; (for free) collards, cilantro, some flowers and perennial herbs that have not started sprouting yet. All you have to do is ask.
#11 Golf Courses or Private Neighborhoods
I happen to live in an area with a lot of both golf courses and private communities, which is great for my yard. Unfortunately, they both plant purely for aesthetics of their homeowners/tourists/guests. They perform frequent plantings throughout the year to keep things eye-pleasing and in constant color. I had a good friend who was a landscaping manager for a nearby development and he had a budget of $30,000.00 per season to spend on landscaping. If he didn’t spend his entire budget each season he would lose it for the following season so many times he would be very wasteful in his plantings just to keep his budget. When they change their plants, they simply throw out the existing plants to replace with new ones and this is where you luck out. Ask to speak the landscaping supervisor/manager and see if you can come by and get the plants destined for the garbage dump at their convenience. Most will be happy to know the plants will find a new home.
# 12 Ask Your Friends & Neighbors
Most of my friends have plants of some sort. Let your friends know you are trying to landscape your garden and I am sure they will be more than happy to let you divide their plants, take the babies, a couple clippings, or even give you some they may have grown tired of. I see ads all the time in the paper and on the internet offering free plants, trees, etc. if you are willing to move them.
Well, there you have it. Ways to have a frugal and free landscaped yard and garden.
Note: labor not included
Here is my Chicken garden that I made for under $20.00 (mostly for mulch)