Gardening can be an expensive hobby, especially for those who have a large outdoor space to fill with plants. Now, a gardening expert has shared the “best ways” to improve a garden without spending hundreds of pounds. Managing Director at Hopes Grove Nurseries, Morris Hankinson explained: “No matter what part of life we are in, there will be a marketing person looking for the ‘problem’ and then selling us the solution – gardening is no exception.
“As a nation of gardeners, we are always on the lookout for the next gardening gadget or must-have plants – but do we really need to?” Is it necessary?
“The short answer is no, and in many cases not buying many of these products will not only be better for our wallets, but it will also be better for the environment.
“The best way of gardening is always working with and being in tune with nature and the environment. Check out our practical money-saving tips for a beautiful, productive and environmentally responsible garden, at a fraction of the cost.”
Make your own garden compost
To get the best from soil it needs improving. Sandy, free-draining soils need organic matter to retain moisture and nutrients while heavy clay soils benefit from organic matter to break them down and make them easier to cultivate.
Buying soil improvers is expensive and gardeners will need a lot of it to make a real difference.
The “best way” to recycle garden waste is to have a garden compost where waste such as clippings, weeds, old plants, kitchen waste, cardboard and newspaper can be broken down to create compost.
Morris explained: “Set aside an area for your compost bin ensuring it is kept moist and aerated and let nature (nature’s microorganisms to be precise) break down the waste for you creating a good supply of nutrient-rich compost for free! Garden compost is also great for mulching.”
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Learning to propagate plants is a great way to save money as you won’t need to buy new plants.
Gardeners can teach themselves how to propagate certain plants through books and YouTube videos.
Growing plants from cuttings can be simple for many of the most popular plants people grow in their gardens.
Flowers such as geraniums, fuchsias, dahlias and salvias are just a few that are easy to propagate.
Woody plants take longer to propagate but it’s still fairly easy to do.
Morris continued: “Now perennial plants that grow in clumps can be divided (this is the easiest way of all) to make several smaller new plants to be potted up or replanted.
“Share cuttings and plants with friends and neighbors and you will certainly be quids in.
“If a good fuchsia or geranium is £4 and a shrub is £12 in the local garden centre, and you can grow hundreds of them with ease, (and it’s very satisfying) then there’s nothing not to like!”
Grow plants from seed
Growing plants from seed is a super cheap and easy way to have an abundant, flourishing garden without spending hundreds of pounds on plants.
Six bedding plants in a pack cost about £4, a tomato plant £1-£2 each – a packet of seeds for a couple of pounds should give gardeners dozens of them.
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Homemade garden compost is perfect, and so much cheaper than buying two dozen bags of bark chips.
Buy bare root plants
Morris said bare root plants cost about “half as much” as the same size plant in a pot.
They are grown in nursery fields in the soil so it’s both a cheap and environmentally responsible type of production.
Morris explained: “You can buy a wealth of plants online this way including most hedging plants, fruit trees, roses and hardy perennials.
“You might lose the odd one, but they are cheap enough to buy a couple more than you need and still be in front!
“Buy them between November and April, they need to be planted during their winter dormancy.”
Many plants and gardening products will be cheaper online, even after paying for delivery. Shop around to find the best deals.
Buy reduced or out of season plants
When doing this it’s best to be selective as buying cheap, tender bedding plants before a frost, for example, is pointless.
Choose discounted hardy perennials and shrubs, and check it has good healthy roots by slipping plants out of the pot and checking.
If the roots are healthy, the rest of the plant will be able to recover.
Make plant pots
Morris explained: “Biodegradable materials such as toilet roll centers and rolled-up newspapers are ideal for filling with compost and growing seedlings or cuttings.
“Plant the whole thing when your nurtured seedlings are ready and they will rot away adding nutrients to the soil.
“It’s like making compost except you miss out on the compost heap.
“If you need some stronger pots for longer-term plants, ask your local garden center if they have any old ones. They almost certainly will be happy to let them go instead of paying to get them taken away or recycled.”