As the weather warms up, green thumbs across the nation are heading outdoors to plant gardens and beautify yards. But whether you love lettuce or have visions of violets, there is no reason gardening has to leave you with an empty pocketbook. You can keep more money in your savings account by following these six tips.
1. Check the daily deal sites
Daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and DealChicken can help you save 50 percent or more at local merchants. While deals vary by location, spring and summer are a prime time for garden center offers. Subscribe to the service's newsletter or sign-up for mobile notifications to watch for deals at gardening stores in your area.
2. Handle the lawn yourself
Unless you live on a rolling manor estate, there is little reason to hire a lawn service. Mowing, trimming and fertilizing are simple tasks that every able-bodied individual should be able to do on their own. If you feel like your yard is too small to invest in the necessary tools, pool resources with neighbors to purchase a mower and trimmer you can all share.
3. Start with seeds
Seedlings are easy and convenient, but seeds are much cheaper. Start indoors early in the spring for the best results. You can buy seed starter systems, but a more frugal option is to cut empty milk jugs in half or use other plastic containers to start your seeds. Poke holes in the bottom and place in a sunny spot away from drafts. Once your plants have grown and the danger of frost has passed, transplant the seedlings to your garden outside.
4. Start a plant/seed exchange
It's great to get seeds or seedlings on sale at the store, but it is better to get them for free from a friend. Gather together your gardening friends to swap seeds and plant cuttings once a year.
5. Use groundcover instead of mulch
Mulch is attractive, but it can also be high maintenance and often requires a new application every year to keep the landscaping looking fresh. Consider whether a different ground cover may be more economical. Pea stone gravel and rocks are one alternative to mulch, and groundcover plants offer a low-maintenance solution that shouldn't be overlooked.
6. Check for county resources
Although a victim of budget cuts in some areas, many counties maintain agricultural extension or cooperative offices that may offer free or reduced cost programs for home gardeners. These may include soil sampling, educational workshops or information on planting for your region. Check with your county to see what services may be available to you.
It's your care and attention -- not the amount of money you spend -- that will make your garden great. So maximize the enjoyment you get from your yard by minimizing its impact on your checking account.