From early childhood, I have learned how to get the most out of limited resources and that lesson has remained with me my entire life. It’s a habit I can’t break, even with my enjoyment of ornamental gardening in my retirement years. To further justify that, the prices of plant materials in nurseries has skyrocketed to the point that I now consider it a challenge to create a beautiful garden without shelling out big bucks for new plants. I am a penny-pinching gardener. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Pre planning: I am not an impulse buyer but have a plan in mind for every plant I seek and buy. It has to have a place, purpose, and suitability in my garden. Therefore, I research first using reliable internet resources before shopping and buying at plant nurseries and garden centers. I identify and shop at quality nurseries that have the best quality/priced plants.
  2. I select plants that can be eventually divided or can be propagated should I wish to expand use of that plant. Often, one gallon containers contain two rooted plants in one container as growers often do this to ensure survivability of at least one when it reaches market. Perennials, ornamental grasses, succulents, can be divided, shared, or traded as plants mature in your garden. Selectivity and sharing of purchased plants among gardening friends in this way saves money and provides diversity for your garden. .
  3. I propagate new plants from cuttings, always keeping a spare of any plant that may be hard to find if lost, to expand my garden plantings, or to swap with friends for new plants to try.
  4. I use all natural garden decor rather than man-made items. Ornamental rocks, dead wood, etc. make a garden look natural, are found and nature, and are often cost free.
  5. I have a hobby greenhouse which allows me to overwinter tender plants and not have to repurchase new ones annually. This expands the variety in my seasonal gardens.
  6. I am a patient gardener. I enjoy seeing plants grow, start from small and develop into maturity. I would much rather buy a 4″ potted plant and grow it rather than pay a lot more for an already mature plant. Growing is a key part of gardening, in lieu of planting for immediate effect. I take pride in saying I grew this plant from a cutting, division, or starter size.
  7. I can give my garden a change in appearance by rearrangement, rather than replacement of plant materials. Transplanting at the appropriate time of year can give a fresh new look.
  8. I avoid buying high priced, high risk plants, as tempting as they may be. I am not a risk taker when it comes to gardening but stick to those plants that have proven reliability in our area.
  9. I recycle potting soil and create my own compost in lieu of purchasing processed fertilizers.
  10.  I find decor pots and garden ornaments at garage sales and thrift shops and create decor containers from ceramic pieces by drilling drainage holes with a ceramic drill bit.
  11. I collect rainwater for watering in lieu of automated irrigation, and hand water only as needed. I mulch all planted areas to reduce watering needs, and supplement soil nutrients.

Not everyone needs to economize like this, depending on one’s economic status, but a dollar saved is a dollar earned, and if your gardening resources are limited, there are ways to create a masterful ornamental garden within your means. Even living on a fixed retirement income, I can afford to spend much more on my gardening pursuits than I do, but feel better doing more with less, and that makes me a happier gardener. Yes, I am a penny-pinching gardener – it’s hardwired! Doing the most with the least is a challenge I love when it comes to gardening.