This past weekend felt like summer was coming with the sun shining and the warm weather! I needed to get some color in our front yard, so I made a run to Home Depot to get some flowers to plant. I think the Home Depot garden department is the best around here, other than local farmers markets!
We have a small garden bed leading up to our entry way that I like to keep for annual flowers (flowers you plant just for the season). We have done some landscaping in other areas of the house, but this area is where I like to change it up by keeping it colorful. We also have a few planters around the house along with a larger garden bed in the backyard. With all of this space to fill with flowers, it can really add up quickly when purchasing flowers.
Over the past few years, I have learned a few things about how to create a gorgeous garden on a very small budget. Here are my seven tips for starting, expanding and maintaining a garden on a budget!
1. Know Your Space
I know this sounds silly, but it can make or break your garden. It is crucial for you to know how much sun your garden gets. Six or more hours of direct sunlight needs plants that are dedicated to sun. Four to six hours of direct sun need plants that call for partial sun. And anything under four hours of direct sunlight must have shade plants. When I am trying to get an idea of how much sun my gardens get, I wait for a sunny day to get a really good idea of how much sun shines on the garden. Then I go out and check the garden at 9:00, 12:00, 2:00 and 4:00. This has given me a great idea of how much sun my specific gardens are getting. My garden in the front yard gets over six hours of direct sunlight, while my garden in the back gets about five hours of direct sunlight. Some of my planters are in total shade, while others are in partial sun. This helps me develop a plan for what types of plants to buy for each specific garden. Then I know I am not spending my money on plants that won’t grow where I plant them!
2. Know Your Budget
Again, sounds silly, but is incredibly important if you are gardening on a budget. I always start with the total amount of money I want to spend on my garden for the year. Then I start to deduct some costs of things that I already know I need, such as soil and mulch. I always make sure I purchase good potting soil because it really does help keep your plants alive. You are already spending the money to make your yard beautiful, so make sure it stays that way with good top soil. Once I deduct the cost of soil and mulch, I know how much money I am left with to purchase flowers, shrubs and plants.
3. Make A Plan
I am a visual person, so I have to draw out my gardens. I draw in any plants or flowers that are currently there. In my backyard garden, we have some peonies, lilies and some shrubs already planted for last year. I drew in those plants so I knew what space in the garden was taken up by these perennials. Then I make notes about which gardens are full sun and which gardens and potters are in partial sun or shade. I always take this to the store to make sure I can visualize the plants in the space!
4. Annual Vs. Perennial
Now that you have a plan, I say go look at the store and browse around all the flowers! This will help you get a good idea of what is out there, what you like and what you can envision in your space. As you are looking, you need to decide if you want annuals or perennials. Annuals are a once a year plant, while perennials are plants you plant once and they keep coming back if you take care of them. I always like mixing it up between the two. Like I said before, we have some perennials in the backyard garden that keep coming back, while the front yard garden is mostly kept for annuals. I also only plant annuals in the potters because I don’t want to try to keep them alive all winter.
5. One Focal Piece
Now that I have browsed around all of the flowers, I start with finding one focal piece for the garden. This year I bought Dehlia flowers as the focal statement in our front yard garden. These are perennials, so they will continue to come back year after year with proper care. Last year, our focal statement was peonies, which make such a stunning appearance once they bloom.
6. Fill With Color
Since I selected a focal piece, now I can fill the rest of the garden with colorful flowers using the rest of my budget. Since I was working backward with my budget, I know how much is left for me to spend of annuals. I love filling my garden with geraniums, petunias and marigolds because they are rather inexpensive but have a very powerful impact on a rather colorful garden.
7. Plan To Expand
Just remember that gardening is not a sprint but a marathon. You have time to create a garden you love, but it takes time. I have slowly been expanding my gardens, but it has been over the course of a few years. I always plan for what I would like to do the following year and keep a gardening binder with all of my inspirations, thoughts and drawings. This helps me remember what I was planning on doing to expand my gardens over the years!
Hopefully these useful tips will keep you on budget so you can create a beautiful garden without breaking the bank! As the weather is warming up, what are you planting? What are your favorite flowers of the moment? I just can’t wait to watch my Dehlia flowers to bloom because they are my favorite flower right now!