Gardening on a budget

July 01, 2017

Gardening can be a deceivingly expensive hobby to undertake. It is far more than just pottering about in the yard pulling weeds. There are tools and materials to buy, as well as all of the plants and trees and any landscaping you may wish to have completed.

But there are many ways you can save money if you just plan ahead. Follow these tips to get started gardening even if you’re on a tight budget:


Whenever you need to save yourself some money on home renovations and other projects, the best thing to do is Do It Yourself. Even a complete beginner can learn how to do things through watching YouTube tutorials, attending free DIY sessions at places like Bunnings and reading as much as they can online.

Wherever you can cut out the hired help and do things for yourself, you’ll be saving money. For example, if you need to start by clearing your yard, hire a rubbish skip and start clearing everything yourself instead of paying professionals to do it for you. If you have any carpentry or landscaping work that needs doing, look into safe and cheap ways you can do that yourself too. It may take a little longer, but will be a fun and satisfying weekend project.

Stay native

If you have dreams of a peaceful Japanese garden or a majestic American landscape, you will need a decent sized budget to accommodate this. The best thing you can do for your wallet and for your own workload is to stick with plants, bushes and trees that are native to Australia. The cost entry point of native plants is far lower than ones that have to be imported, and the upkeep is much easier. Caring for a foreign garden that isn’t used to our climate and soil will end up costing you more in money and time. However, an Australian garden will naturally thrive under our conditions without you needing to do as much for it.

Keep up the maintenance

Staying on top of the gardening is important if you don’t want to waste money on it. For example, when you lay new turf or plant a new tree, you need to take extra special care with the watering and maintenance or else they will begin to die off and you will end up spending extra on reviving them or replacing them. Also make sure you stay on top of the weeding and the pest sprays so things don’t get out of hand in the garden. Once your plants are infested it can cost a bit to get rid of unwanted weeds and bugs.

As part of your maintenance routine you should keep a compost heap in your backyard. Use this in your garden and you will find your plants will start looking bigger, better, healthier and stronger.

Plan your shopping

Most nurseries as well as hardware stores will have at least one big sale per year. If you can hold out, wait until sale time to do a lot of your purchasing. It is also best to shop seasonally – that is, buy plants when they aren’t blooming as they will usually be sold at a cheaper price. If you have the patience to wait for next season to see them bloom, it is well worth the money you’ll save.

If you are doing more than just putting some new plants in, take a look at some of the materials you had intended to use and perhaps see if you can find cheaper alternatives. Good hard wood and top quality sandstone will cost you a lot if you are planning retaining walls or decking, but there are cheaper alternatives that still look great.

If your budget is super strict you can take it one step further and reuse any materials you already have laying around in your backyard. Reuse and upcycle for a cheap yet unique solution to stepping stones and features.

Use perennial plants, seeds and off-cuts

Perennial is the name given to plants that will last longer than two years. These are an obvious solution to the gardener on a budget as the plants won’t need to be replaced every year like annuals, or every second year like biennials. Use off-cuts from these plants to replant in other areas around the garden and watch them eventually spread. It can be a long process but is an immensely satisfying one with the added bonus of saving you loads of money.

If you have a lot of patience, the best money-saving idea you can put into place with a new garden is to plant from seeds instead of seedlings or more mature plants. The cost difference is enormous and even the most frugal of budgets can afford a packet of seeds or two. Save the seeds from any of your current plants to dry out and use next season as well.

Make it social

Still on the topic of using seeds, you can enlist the help of friends who are also into gardening. Try hosting a seed or plant swap party with your gardening community. This is a gathering where people bring in seeds they’ve saved and dried out from their own gardens, or off-cuts from existing plants or even ones they’ve dug up to make room for something else. Swapping the different seeds and plants around is a great way to be exposed to new varieties that you may not have thought to use before.