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How to Get Your Garden Plants Started on a Tight Budget

Posted by MoneyKey on May 2, 2019
A nice home garden full of garden plants

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the state of your backyard may be the least of your worries. With the cost of rent, utilities, groceries, and all of life’s other unavoidable expenses, no one would blame you for neglecting your gardening duties. But a tight budget doesn’t have to stop you from creating a garden you can be proud of. With a fully flourishing garden, you may even be able to save money on home cooking or on putting together a healthy meal plan on a budget. With the right tools, a set of proven small garden ideas on a budget, and a little patience, you can scavenge and barter your way to a beautiful backyard. Check out the garden plants tips below to get started!

Grow from seeds, not seedlings

It’ll take a little more time and patience, but growing your garden plants from seeds is one of the easiest ways to save on your garden. Buying a set of three tomato seedlings for $19 may give you a head start on the growing process, but if you’re looking to stay within a tight budget, it may be tough to pass up the opportunity to get a pack of 50 seeds of the same plant for $5. Some garden centers will even offer free plant seed samples.

Not only are seeds cost-effective, you’ll likely have a much greater variety of plants to choose from, and you’ll be able to control the quality of the plants. If you’re looking to make sure your garden plants are non-GMO and organic, growing from seeds might be the cheapest way of doing this.

You’ll need to get a jump on the growing season by starting your seeds indoors, but sowing your seeds in your garden when the time comes isn’t any more time-consuming than if you were to plant seedlings. If you want to know more about how to grow plants from seeds, check out this guide to get you started.

Go to a seed swap to get free plant seeds

A seedling growing into a garden plant

As we’ve already mentioned, shopping for seeds is a great way to save on garden plants and get a head start on your garden before the growing season starts. But it’s not the only – or even the cheapest – way to find a great bargain on seeds!

Seed swaps are essentially large gatherings where people get together to share the seeds they’ve kept from the previous year, and trade with other avid gardeners or farmers. They’re a great way to build a community, share your gardening insights and information, learn more about garden plant varieties, and best of all, get your hands on some free plant seeds!

There are a number of different ways to get involved with a seed swap. You can start by gathering a small group of friends and start your own. If none of your immediate friends garden, you can post a notice at a nearby garden plants center, health food stores, or on the Facebook page of a local gardening store.

If you don’t want to do the work of starting your own, search online for any ongoing swaps in the area or large agricultural events. They’ll often have large and small swaps included in their program. This is a great way to integrate yourself into the local gardening community, learn how to plant seeds from more experienced gardeners, and find seeds at no cost.

Find cuttings

As much as we’ve lauded the virtues of seeds, it might be tricky to start at the point of infancy with ALL your garden plants. Some plant varieties, like Bartlett pears, are propagated asexually, meaning they’re clones of their parent plant and aren’t grown from seeds. Other varieties may be much more difficult to grow from seed than you’re willing to deal with.

This is where the magic of plant cuttings comes in! As we’ve mentioned, some garden plants have the ability to regrow themselves, and a lot of these are commonly found in nature. There are a number of different ways to go about this process depending on the type of plant and stem, but here’s a look at the general process:

  1. Cut a section of the stem. Start by finding a healthy-looking growth that’s about 3 to 6 inches in length. Try to make sure that your cuts are clean and precise; if you smoosh the stems, the plant will have a harder time developing new roots.
  2. Get rid of the lower leaves. The next step is to clip any leaves from the lower part of the stem to make sure you can comfortably insert it into the potting mix. If you want to speed up the growing process, you can dip the stem into rooting hormone to help the roots grow more quickly.
  3. Pot your cutting. Now it’s time to pot your cutting. Put it in moist potting mix (or whatever mix it’s best suited for), and make sure it stays humid by wrapping it in clear plastic. It typically takes one or two months for your cuttings to root firmly enough to plant them, but different plants root more quickly than others, so be patient!

Here’s a list of some of the best plants to grow from cuttings to help get you started.

Repurpose and upcycle

An old car repurposed for growing garden plants

Growing plants from seeds or cuttings may be a cost-effective way of starting your garden, no matter how cheap your garden plants are, you’re going to need something to plant them in. Buying elaborate planters made of stone is a quick way to blow through your gardening budget, but thankfully, there are far cheaper – even free! – options.

You’d be surprised about what junk you can refashion into unique planters to add a personal touch to your garden. Have an old tea set lying around? Maybe a deflated basketball that gets no use? Previously discarded household items like these can all be used to spruce up your garden if you have the right expertise. And it’s simpler than you think! Take a look around your house for any out-of-use items you think you’d be able to refashion, and look online for more inspiration.

Take advantage of “Free” lists

This tip can apply to more than just basic gardening tools, but classified services like Craigslist and Kijiji have a “Free” section that can be an amazing source for many of your basic gardening needs. You can find pots, planters, compost, and even live garden plants at no cost, other than the time it takes to go pick them up. Even if they’re not completely free, you can often find basic gardening tools at a much lower rate by having a thorough look through nearby garage sales and flea markets.

Saving money in general can be tricky, but there are little ways to help squeeze some more savings out of your finances. Take a look at these money saving tips to help you save each month.

Find inexpensive ways to put a finishing touch on your garden

While your garden plants are the main feature of your backyard garden, there are some cost-effective ways to complete the look.


Buying outdoor fairy lights is a simple and inexpensive way to brighten up your garden. You can find them online any time of the year for as little as $10, or even less if you search through a flea market or second-hand store. Run these lights through your trees or shrubs, arrange them on your furniture or fence, or even hang them off of stakes or bamboo that you’ve stuck in the ground. You can run them from a standard plug in your house, or find inexpensive solar powered lights. Either way you’ll likely have no problem setting them up!


A gravel path going through a garden full of plants

As much as we’d all love a beautifully paved pathway running through our garden, it’s unlikely that having a path professionally paved will fit into a tight gardening budget.  If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, gravel may be your best bet. To get started, mark out the area you want your path to run through, then get rid of any loose grass or soil. Lay down a permeable sheet to prevent any weeds from poking through and spread out your gravel on the sheet.

You shouldn’t avoid planting garden plants because of your budget

While the state of your backyard may not be high on your list of priorities, your passion for gardening shouldn’t be stunted by a tight budget. Even if you’re a beginner looking to get your garden plants started, there are tips and tricks that can help you without costing a fortune.

Do you have any tips on how to get your garden plants started on a tight budget?


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Lifestyle

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