How to Garden and Landscape for Cheap

Want to boost your home’s value by up to 20%? Love to garden but you’re poor. Me too! Hiring a landscaper usually is returned when you sell your home but it can add up. I’ve collected some tips and tricks to get the look you want for cheap. Start this year if your looking primarily for  an increased home value so the plants will be more mature sooner. If you don’t think you can afford it I’ll give you some tricks to get started now.

Even if you don’t love or even want to garden putting in some strategic plants can give you a real boost to your home’s value. Shrubs, hostas, bulbs and lilies can really pay off and potentially make mowing easier. The more mature they are the more it pays off.

Where to Start

With a plan of course! Not that I did, really. My existing yard is above. Well not in a big way. We never planned on ever moving, and now we are so had I started with a plan it would have been smart. So this is what it looks like now and how it will look as we plan to sell it. I would have liked to start with some trees which would be 5 years toward mature now at the end of the lawn between us and the neighbours, lesson learned. So once you have your master plan, which of course will probably change, start with the items that will take longest to mature. Trees first then shrubs then hostas and so on. Spend your year one budget on the trees and slower growing shrubs, but not all of it. You may make a veggie garden a year one priority or bushes that will contribute to privacy. Keep some money in the budget for year one deals too! This means those sad little trees, or a bush blocking and unfortunately placed window your planting this year will be at their most mature when it’s time to sell.

I made the veggie garden a priority since I love to grow food and the huge shrub garden along the driveway. It’s too steep to mow and with a whipper snipper you’re either over your head or down between your legs. I wanted to do that again literally NEVER! That is one shrub for ever 4 hostas in a line and there are 28 shrubs, it’s huge! And I filled if for about $250 bucks, could have been less but there were some must haves like the Northern Lights Mandarin Azalea.

So how do you get it done for cheap?

Ask your friends for hostas

Ask about a month into growing season (after the first bits of grass turn green) so that their plants will have time to recover or in the fall so ugly hostas will be on their way out anyway. I accidentally forgot a box unplanted in my driveway for a brutal winter and they all started again in the spring. It doesn’t matter when you plant them. You can cut the chunks down to a few leaves and they will grow too. Bonus points if you drop off a bag of soil or two for their holes. Everyone has a few hostas they can cut back for a good home they grow big, fast! I’m sorry to tell you this but if you don’t have a friend willing to give you hostas, you don’t have any friends. If this is the case ask co-workers or neighbours. Pay it forward when yours grow. No one has to pay $6 for a hosta.

Stalk your local grocery store and Walmart garden centres

Go often and be super duper nice while your there, you need these people! These places often shut down so early for the season that it has barely started. Superstore is around July 1st and Sobey’s about the 15th. This is usually your best bet on price and new stock comes often and almost all the way to the end. Sure the shrubs are a bit smaller but they are cheap and they have weekly deep discount flyer sales. Surprisingly their plants often carry a year long or lifetime warranty so if it dies you can replace it for free next year.

Your job is to find out in advance when they will be closing in and get there on the last day before they open. Everything will be 75% off already affordable prices sometimes 75% of 50% off which is almost 90% off original (affordable) prices. Shrubs will cost less than 12 petunias at the end of the season. Perennials will be less than $0.50. I’m looking at you superstore. You can even hold off on filling your bare spots until today with annuals if you can. The year I bought the most for the shrub garden I got 22 shrubs, and a few extras for $175. I’m not sure what the RCMP would have charged me with had they pulled me over that day, but they would have found something. The corolla was full!

Buy damaged goods

Stock gets shipped out on schedule no matter the microclimate it’s going to or if garden centres have inside space to put it early in the season. So if it gets frost damaged you get if for at least %50 off. More if it’s badly damaged. Usually a shrub or perennial will rally in the season or come back perfectly next year. Plants that have evolved to live over many years are made to take a beating in one. That’s how I got my two trendy hsakap bushes I thought were out of my price range. Those bushes are thriving and the berries came the very next season.

A lot of the employees working these places are students without a whole summer long job. Understandably they don’t know, or care, how to take care of plants. So some tend to dry out or get run over with forklifts, I’m looking at you Canadian Tire! I was with a friend once who bought a King Crimson Maple we saw get run over for 80% off $70, so $14. She walked up to the clerk said “I want to buy the tree I just say you run over, for cheap.” Balls yes, there nothing wrong with the tree by the way.

You can usually nurse them back to health with lots of water and immediate planting. If you buy a bunch and can’t plant them right away fill a kiddie pool or similar with the hose and plunk them pot and all until you can get to em.

I had to dig far into the archives for this one! That Rhod in back is over three feet now 8 year later! It was from Sobey’s and cost $9!

Start from seed

I haven’t done too much of this because I tend to go for variety over quantity of plants. The exception would be my veggie garden. Our falls have been incredibly warm lately and plants are bigger by then so they can withstand a blanket overnight if there is a risk of frost one night. I direct sew plants like lettuce, kohl rabbi and cucumbers which a lot of people buy as transplants. If your ambitious you could start your herbs and flowers as well as veggies indoors for pennies compared to buying transplants. Make sure to harden them off by setting them outside out of the sun in heavy shade and out of the wind. Start for short periods like an hour and move to whole days and full sun slowly. If you have extra consider a plant sale at the start of the growing season much like a garage sale. You can certainly beat the prices at the traditional outlets and in my experience these events sell well.  You can even re-invest the profits into your yard!

Nurture and relocate native flora

It’s not a great idea to plant non-native species as they can out compete native plants. Often this is relatively harmless as the plant never spreads and would die off should you stop caring for it. But there is also a chance that you are introducing an invasive species that will require constant attention to control if that is even possible. Things like mint and ivy are relatively easy, all you have to do is rip and pull consistently to keep it in check. But then there are things like goutweed and knotweed, which is very available at garden centres still, that will dive you to the edge of sanity to try to control. No amount of digging, pulling or swearing will make much progress. I’ve even heard of people turing to fire in the form of a tiger torch to no avail.

You could instead nurture an existing pine or maple tree by clearing the soil around it, watering it and providing it with fertilizer and watch it thrive. If you want a maple in a particular spot but you don’t have one on your property to move you can go find one. Now technically this is stealing… but really the mostly harmless kind. If at all possible ask the property owner for permission. You might find a small tree sapling in a roadside ditch or along a public trail that would look perfect at your house. Use some common sense judgement here people. If your taking a 9 inch maple sapling in a ditch that is regularly scooped out to maintain drainage I don’t think anyone will have an issue. It was only a matter of time for that poor little guy anyway and now he has a happy home at your house! Digging a sapling out from under a tree in a manicured park is probably not okay but chances are if you ask permission from a grounds keeper and your holding soil and grass seed at the time you very well might receive a yes. Taking a young fir tree out of a patch of scrubby alders along a bike trail will probably never be noticed or missed. Be prepared to stop or replant it though if asked. It’s free and it’s a native species!

Visit alternative garden centres

Roadside, church and community plant sales can be a great resource and charitable to boot. Often all the plants are the same cheap price a dollar or two regardless of variety. People are just aiming to collect a few bucks and get rid of their excess they would be digging out anyway. Be on the lookout for hostas, lilies, perennials and excess transplants. You can always bargain the price down further especially if you are buying a lot. Chances are these are the healthiest plants you’ll find as they were probably in the ground just a day or two ago.

Just tell a super-star gardening friend your plan

Finally if you tell a superstar gardener in your life your landscaping plans, while at their house you will leave with a car load of awesome plants. Gardeners tend to be happy, generous people who love to nurture people and plants, probably as a direct result of all that gardening. You might also continue to receive plants for a long time to come as they nurture suckers, saplings and cuttings of their shrubs and trees for your purposes without even being asked.

I would love to hear if you have more ideas for inexpensive ways to get your landscaping complete!



7 thoughts on “How to Garden and Landscape for Cheap

Add yours

  1. A great post, with some very practical ways to save money. My wife enjoys her perennial flower garden that takes up half of the front lawn. Amazing the number of people who will stop when they are out for a walk. And the 2 sources of her perennials are from the end of season clearances and from friends. You can save so much money this way.

    As for myself, I grow an organic (sort of) veggie garden out in the back yard. Find organic seeds and potting plants extremely expensive, so I just buy stock garden centre plants. And then grow them without chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. Always so cool to eat the food you grow yourself.

    When I read the stores, Sobeys, Superstore and Canadian Tire, I pieced together that you are a fellow Canadian gardener. Have a great growing season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You too! Ours will have to be better than last year since it was the driest on record and the well was nearly dry! I bet as Canadians and gardeners you are the types of folks awesome folks I mentioned who would dig some stuff up for someone just starting out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Man oh man, how I wish I had a green thumb and could manage a garden, hell even a plant! haha. My grandmother has a huge garden that she tends to day in and day out and it keeps her active and on her feet, she loves it. She has a huge yard and so her garden consist of amazing fruits and veggies and then some beautiful flowers she likes to grow. It can be breathe taking to see it grow some days. Maybe one day, I will have the patience to grow a garden, let alone a plant. lol.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Plants inside the house don’t tend to do that well with me. Outside is a little better since mother nature takes care of the water, but I’m not awesome. Trying and any amount of success is rewarding, that’s why it’s good if plants are cheap!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha! this is very true! my best friend gets the cheaper plants and plants them, that way if they fail to grow or do anything, then at least he didn’t spend an arm and leg. I would love to have more plants around because they are part of us getting oxygen but I would be the reason they die and so I won’t take the risk! hahaha 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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