A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Gardening, Low-Cost Gardening

8 Tips for Lovely, Low-Cost Gardens

Our gardens are usually lovely because my husband and I take good care of them. 

Blog Photo - Garden - Beautiful long shot to wall

But there’s another reason we’re pleased: nothing we add costs us much. Some gardening tips to share:

  1. Look for end-of-season sales. Blog Photo - Hostas and bird bathMany perennial plants in our garden were bought in late June or early July. Remember: water generously that first summer. Your plants should thrive and return even stronger in subsequent years.
  2. Divide mature plants. Blog Photo - Garden Path and HostaHosta, hydrangea, phlox, bee balm — most perennials, in fact — may be divided within 2 to 4 years of planting, instantly creating more mature plants for other spaces in your garden. We got these green-and-white hosta from our neighbours’ garden and have divided them repeatedly in subsequent years.
  3. Consider gift certificates. Blog Photo - Red Bee Balm and Red ChairsIf you have a big anniversary and friends ask “What would you really like?”, suggest gift certificates from one centrally-located and reputable nursery. I never remember this until it’s too late.  But with a few certificates, you could get a shrub, a tree, or even garden furniture.
  4. Bargain. Blog Photo - Clematis pink and lavenderWe had beautiful clematis plants at the farmhouse garden. Most were straggly-looking at the garden-centre, so we negotiated, got great deals and loved them back to health.
  5. Keep the good stuff. Blog Photo - Pool long shotOne of our most cherished pieces was a gift from friends: a cedar bench made especially for us. We’ve lived in three homes since then, and it always comes along.
  6. Paint the Old Stuff.Blog Photo - Blue Metal TablesOur metal tables were old and rusty. Blue paint brought them back to life.
  7. Work with what you have. Blog Photo - Muskoka chairs and UmbrellaWe never wanted a pool. But the house-with-the-pool cost much less than the houses-that-had-no-pool. So we bought it. Then a neighbour gave us his old paving stones; my husband created another paved area for seating.
  8. When you can’t afford what you want, consider a substitute.Blog Photo - Red Chairs and White Bench
    Blog Photo - Red chairs and white bench front shotI’d like a certain kind of chaises longues for my garden, but cannot afford them. So every spring in the last three years, I’ve bought one of these zero-gravity loungers. Solid and durable, each costs about one tenth of the chair I’d like and is very comfortable too!    Happy saving to you!
8 low-cost garden tips
8 low-cost Garden Tips

70 thoughts on “8 Tips for Lovely, Low-Cost Gardens”

  1. Your yard and gardens look beautiful. I have a large piece of cardboard I keep just for my spray paint jobs. I changed colors from light gray to a medium cocoa so I even sprayed several planters this year. Nice, easy, and cost effective way to change things up. I won’t tell you how many plants I’ve divided over the years and moved plants around to fill in. Good tips. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jo Nell. We have struggled to repair the beds while valuing the good plantings of the previous owners. Most of the stonework was also theirs and we are grateful for it. Only a week or so ago, we realized how far we’ve come, especially since Hamlin did most of the work himself.

    1. As I wrote this, I thought about your garden and how much you must miss it. I loved our farmhouse but would you believe that it’s the garden I miss most?

  2. Recently divided a gorgeous guacamole hosta in the front yard–it’s now thriving where nothing else would! Love it when that happens:).

    1. I hear you, sister. I saw guacamole hosta on sale just last week and was sorely tempted – it’s gorgeous— but my willpower emerged just in time. Maybe next year!

  3. Excellent tips here. I so agree. Mine is a friendship garden as so many of my plants are pieces of other’s plants they have donated to me. I share pieces of my plants with my friends too. Mine is minuscule compared to yours but more than enough for me to handle alone. I just painted a potting bench a friend passed on to me last winter as they are planning to move. Now it looks fresh and new.

  4. Your garden looks very lush. At the Automatic Garden I have the same philosophy, spreading and reseeding plants. The best plants are free and plant exchanges are a great place to snag some.

  5. Great ideas. I recently visited a friend in a hospice to say goodbye. As I looked back I saw a stand of plants near the entrance – scrappy little bits and pieces, dug up and donated by other visitors – for sale for whatever you wanted to donate. I filled half a dozen gaps with plants that will grow into beautiful bushes and remind me of my friend.

  6. Your garden (yard) looks beautiful. This is probably the first year we’ve not had to get new plants as the old ones have self-seeded so much! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Laurie. Just goes to show that adaptation is in our DNA as humans. The farmhouse garden, built from scratch by us both pre-accident, was very dear to our hearts. But this one has its merits. Turns out that trees, stonework etc all have their merits. It’s just a different kind of garden. Plus there is a stream. We are thankful indeed.

      1. Wowsah! Even so, gardens require constant care and transplanting to look good. And yours look fantastic.

  7. Gardens look wonderful. I embrace my cheap Scotch heritage and haunt Master Gardener and Botanical Garden sales, bargain prices on unusual plants.
    Your Hostas are so pretty, not another plant has that lush texture.

    1. Very well said, my friend. We gardeners know that, right? Q: Does your in NZ go totally dormant in winter, or is something always blooming throughout the year?

  8. You have made a beautiful garden. We love zero gravity chairs too and for long, lazy moments you can’t beat a hammock. I save money by growing my own plants from seeds or cuttings. But I have to admit I buy a lot too; I’d rather go without nice clothes or other treats. Visiting a good nursery that sells unusual plants, with like- minded friends is one of the great treats in life.

    1. “I’d rather go without nice clothes or other treats” — and with that comment, you confirmed that you are a gardener through and through. My garden is nothing like yours, but I am guilty of the same! Thanks for the comment and happy gardening.

  9. Excellent tips, Cynthia and wonderful photos of your lovely garden. I try to save as many of my self-seeded plants as I can and replant them where they are needed. I went to the garden centre today to buy liquid seaweed for my houseplants. I came away with the plant feed and four plants (two butternut squash and two melon plants) for £1! Only 25p each. That’s a bargain and even if they don’t manage to produce anything I can eat, I still won’t be disappointed.

    1. Haha! We were both at the garden centre today. All their perennials were 75% off (it’s extremely hot here and I think they just want to close the centre for the summer). It’s a seasonal plant nursery, so I got some hosta and one “Black lace” Elder shrub. I also got a Japanese fern for $1. isn’t it nice when you get a deal?

  10. Lovely garden. I always head for the ‘reduced shelves’ at our favourite garden centre, most of the year it has something worth grabbing, especially ready planted decorative pots past their best, even if the plants die you have a pot for much less than an empty one costs! In the autumn I cut back my begonias and geraniums (pelargoniums) and treat them as indoor pot plants, they think it’s spring. Recycle them back in the garden in the summer.

    1. Thank you, Andrea.Only this summer have we realized that the garden has truly come along and is looking lovely. We loved all the stonework and trees, but the garden itself was a jungle when we came here. Hamlin has worked hard at it.

  11. I am slowly catching up here, Cynthia. Your gardens look cool and inviting, as always! And I love the tips on working with what one has. That is always good advice. 🙂

  12. All are great tips, Cynthia, and your garden is proof of it. Chaises are unexpectedly expensive – I’d considered them once, too. But I like your recommendations. on the zero-gravity chairs. Your gardens and pool are just gorgeous.

  13. Your garden is gorgeous! I love all your tips, Cynthia. I didn’t know hydrangeas could be divided. We transplanted one this summer and it’s doing well, but I have others that have grown quite large. I suppose the trick is to divide while they’re still a reasonable size.

    I’ve sat in one of those zero-gravity lounge chairs. They are might comfortable! Happy summer

    1. Thank you, Alys! I’m glad you like both the garden and the tips.

      The way to divide hydrangea is to either do it in the spring before it’s leafed out, or cut some of the stems down to a manageable level and dig them up, roots, soil and all. Many gardeners cut their hydrangea (especially the Annabelles) right down to only about 7 inches above ground every spring anyway, but I always forget.
      Another way to propagate hydrangea is to cut off several fresh-growth branches in the spring, and stick them in a pot with potting soil kept moist.They catch very easily this way, especially if kept in semi-shade. Several weeks later, you have new plants.

      1. I’m going to employ all your tips next spring! Thank you. Funny story. I cut several hydrangeas for a flower arrangement earlier this year and they outlasted the other flowers by awhile. I left them, and low and behold, they started sending out buds! I was delighted. I did eventually plant all three, but nothing came up. I’ll try again.

  14. That’s a funny story. I suspect the clue is to move them from flower arrangement to potted soil, kept moist and in the shade. After some weeks of that, plant and water often. I propagated my hydrangea years ago by cutting off new growth, sticking it in a pot of wet soil till it sprouted leaves, then planted it out in garden bed. But who knows?

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