10 ways to save money in the garden this summer
Want your outdoor space to look its best while still watching the pennies? Give these top tips a go, says Vicky Shaw, Press Association.
Now summer's here, many people will be rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into their gardening.
For green-fingered types however, decking out an outdoor space can be costly, particularly if it involves several trips down to the garden centre.
Of course, if you love your garden then this may be money well spent - but it's always handy to consider ways to trim back and save some cash, and still have your garden brimming over with blooms.
1. Join a local garden club
This is a great way to get very cheap, or free plants. You could also pick up some tips from other members and find out from them which plants grow particularly well in your area.
2. Think small
Large plants can make an instant impact in the garden, but they can also be costly. You could save a lot of money by growing plants yourself from seed, or if that sounds too tricky some retailers will sell very young plants, which you can pot on at home until they're big enough to be planted out. To boost your chances of successful growing to maturity, you'll need to be prepared to give your young plants plenty of attention.
3. Divide plants
If your garden beds are looking a bit patchy, you don't necessarily need to head out to the garden centre to buy new plants. Try splitting some of the plants that are already growing there into smaller clumps and dotting them around to fill in any gaps in your planting. As well as multiplying the number of plants you have, it could encourage any tired-looking perennials to grow more vigorously, giving them a fresh lease of life.
Plants which grow in clumps and can potentially be divided include irises, bamboos ornamental grasses and anemones. To boost your chances of dividing plants successfully, the Royal Horticultural Society (rhs.org.uk) website suggests dividing plants when they're not in active growth. For example, summer-flowering plants could be divided in spring or autumn. And make sure you keep your plants well watered.
4. Keep your black plastic pots and reuse them
Concern around the amount of stuff that gets thrown away - particularly plastics - has been growing in recent years. As many of the plants we buy come in black plastic pots, think about creative ways of reusing them for other purposes, whether it's to pot on other plants, store garden tools in or to upcycle into something else.
5. Make your own compost
Just add vegetable peelings, soft hedge clippings, cut grass and old bedding plants and you're good to go. Spring can be a good time to get started, as the warmer months help the compost rot down more quickly.
6. Save money on gardening tools
Look out on local community websites, as well as websites where people are giving away items for free. Family members may also have some old spades and gardening forks they no longer use. Older, well-loved tools could also help to give your garden a 'rustic' look.
7. Grow your own food
Whether your aiming for 'best in show' tomatoes or just planting some fresh herbs into pots on your windowsill to throw into meals, growing plants for food can be a very tasty way to make savings.
8. Avoid false economies when buying 'statement' plants
If you're buying a shrub or tree which you want to make the focal point of your garden, it may be worth travelling to buy it in person so that you can select the exact one you want and make sure it's healthy. If it's intended as a statement plant to add a wow factor to your garden for years to come, it may well be worth investing a bit more money, rather than going for a less expensive option but then regretting it.
9. Upcycle what's already in your garden
Rather than splashing out on new garden furniture, try painting what you've already got in a fresh colour. Old, chipped clay pots can look attractive with masses of bright flowers brimming over the edges, or if pots are too broken to hold plants use the smashed pieces as drainage inside other pots.
10. Finally, look after your plants
Many plants fail due to being watered too much or not enough. So try to get the balance right and make giving them regular care part of your routine. Plants in pots will particularly need your attention. If you cherish your plants, you're less likely to need to spend money on replacements.