With spring under way and summer just around the corner, Britain’s gardens are in full bloom. We take a look at ten ways to save on gardening.
1) Do a bit of digging
It’s easy to throw money away in a garden by getting things wrong, but having the right equipment can save you a fortune. The Which? website has a wealth of tried and tested products, from secateurs to shredders. Better still, see what you can get for free, on Freecycle or sites like Gumtree or swap your excess plants, unwanted bulbs, and unsown seeds at the Garden Swapshop.
2) Collecting compost
There’s nothing more environmentally friendly than composting your own kitchen and garden waste. Not only will it save you on buying soil improver and mulch, but you’ll be recycling too. Check with your local council if they sell discounted composting bins, but don’t use cooked waste if you want to keep the pests away. There’s a great step-by-step guide to composting on the RecycleNow website which takes you through the process.
3) Creative trimming
Taking plant cuttings, dividing established plants, and collecting seeds are just some of the ways you can create new plants free of charge. Swap your spares with friends and family and your garden will soon be full to bursting with new plants.
4) Make your own plant supports
In gardening, the homemade solutions are often the best. The simplest and best plant supports that Which? Gardening experts found in tests were ‘pea sticks’, which are nothing more fancy than twiggy stems pushed into the ground to hold up floppy plants in wind and rain. Easy peasy.
5) Home grown
Save money on your grocery bills by growing your own fruit and veg. Pick gourmet varieties that would be expensive to buy rather than cheap crops such as potatoes. We found good options were cucumbers like ‘Marketmore’ and ‘Dellkata’ Mangetout. And the latest June issue of Which? Gardening has got advice on growing radishes and spring onions, and our 2011 Best Buy strawberry varieties. Call 01992 822 800 to subscribe.
6) Change your shopping habits
Independent garden centres are best for quality and choice as we found in our recent retailer survey but if you already know what you want, or don’t need a large selection to choose from, a DIY store or supermarket could provide a bargain or two, especially if you’re buying furniture, garden tools, composts and chemicals. And before you go shopping, do your research and bring a list of plants that you’ve checked will be suitable for the conditions in your garden. If only there was a comprehensive list of free information on plants.
7) Resist your impulses
Don’t buy products you don’t need. Garden centres are awash with kits for growing veg, and they don’t come cheap. You can easily make a raised bed yourself using old pallets, or just create a veg patch in a spare patch of garden. And don’t waste money on expensive planters for potatoes – Which? Gardening has found that a large pot or old dustbin works just as well.
8) Butts are no joke
About 85,000 litres of rain falls on the average British roof every year, according to Waterwise, a leading authority on water efficiency. That’s enough to fill 450 water butts. Putting a water butt in your garden is easy, and quite cheap. And two butts can be joined together to save twice as much water using a water butt linking kit; a length of hose with a nut at each end, costing about £7.
9) The fun of the fair
Watch out for plant fairs. Plant fairs at local fêtes and garden openings for charity are a great way of getting hold of cheap plants. You can find some real gems among the spider plants and leggy tomatoes. Those in the know arrive early to get their hands on the best stuff.
10) Casualty corner
If you are visiting a garden centre keep your eye on the ‘casualty corner’, where they see off plants that aren’t looking their best. The equivalent of a supermarket’s ‘reduced items’, many of these plants aren’t looking so good simply because they’re no longer flowering. Give them a bit of love and patience and you could find you’ve grabbed a bargain.
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