After I finished work yesterday I headed for the garden. It was actually warm enough to sit in a patch of sunshine… just!
At the moment it looks like the Somme out there, swampy and incredibly soggy despite sitting on thousands of feet of chalk, on top of a hill, with only a few inches of topsoil. And the lawned areas are all jungly. Urgh.
It’s time to get down and dirty. And it set me thinking about how to cut the cost of keeping the garden looking lovely.
Cheap gardening is the name of the game. If you have any cool tips, let us know. Here are mine.
10 money saving garden tips
- use a manual mower rather than an electric one. I’ve tested both and to be honest, there’s no difference in the amount of time and effort it takes. You still have to push a heavy machine around – if anyone knows why electric mowers are better, let mes know!
- compost everything you can. Compost household vegetable waste, shredded kitchen roll, newspaper, and garden waste. If you don’t have room for a compost heap or composter, spread the waste around thinly under plants and over beds and leave it in little heaps in hidden corners. In my experience it rots down in no time and saves me loads of money on garden centre compost and mulch
- buy second hand tools. Boot fairs are great sources of second hand tools, often for very little money. The older and sturdier the better – cheap modern tools are often really flimsy and a false economy, quality modern tools are expensive… it’s once of those times when you get what you pay for
- grow wild local species from cuttings and seeds. Wild plants are beautiful. There’s no such things as a weed. I take a rucksack and plastic bags with me whenever we’re in the countryside so I can collect seeds and take cuttings. I’m amazed how readily they grow most of the time. And how fast. I guess it’s because plants want to live – it’s their job to survive
- Hold a plant and garden stuff swap shop. It’s party time… get everyone round with their unwanted gardening equipment, seedlings, potted plants, planters, tools and so on, bring a bottle each and get the equipment and plants you need for nothing
- Ask builders for unwanted rock and stone. We got a huge load of gorgeous sandstone chunks, some of which are massive, from the builders down the road. The house owners didn’t want them, the builders didn’t want to pay to dispose of them (they literally weighed a ton) and everyone was happy
- Buy a second hand shed. During my chocolate run last night, on the way to the corner shop, I passed an old shed neatly dismantled outside someone’s house. They sometimes come up on Friday Ad and other online classifieds sites and older sheds are often better quality wood and better made than cheap new ones. They’re ready-worn too, so you don’t have to suffer that awful raw orange colour until the weather does its thing
- Paint cheap terracotta planters and pots. I use leftover interior house paint to perk up cheap terracotta planters and pots. It only takes a few minutes and they look absolutely gorgeous. Aubergine, orange, bright pink, purple and red look amazing with green foliage, proper eye candy for next to nowt. Whenever they get tatty, just add another coat
- Seal wood fences and sheds. We’ve been here eight years and I’ve noticed the better care I take of the shed and garden fence, the longer they last. Our fence is mostly covered in creepers and climbers now, but I maintain the areas that still show with special fence protection stuff from B&Q. The same goes for the shed. If you’ve seen the TV ads you’ll already know you can buy exterior wood paint in fab colours these days, which I can’t wait to test. I also clear soil and leaves away from the bottom of the fence, at the back of the beds, to prevent the wood getting wet and rotting before its time
- Use old tights as plant ties. I don’t really like using wire and twine to tie back plants. It seems far too harsh. I use old tights instead, cutting them into lengths. They’re soft, they don’t hold water, they last for ages and because I use black ones, they merge into the background and don’t show. You can also use old jumpers to line hanging baskets