How to Grow Your Garden from Scratch Without Spending Hundreds

When you think of a garden, you may picture a professionally landscaped area with waterfalls, gazebos, fountains, rose bushes, and endless rows of fruits and vegetables. This image is often intimidating to all those who want to grow a garden but don’t have a large budget. How do you create something beautiful without having a lot of money? Doesn’t a garden have to be large and perfect manicured with water features in order to be a garden?

I'm here to tell you NO! There are plenty of ways to grow a garden on a budget and to make it your own. Starting small allows you to learn the basics and scale as you grow. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Do your own research

That “professionally” designed garden that you have in mind can run several thousands of dollars. However, with a little bit of research, you can design your own for far cheaper. I started this blog (and New Leaves) to make gardening more approachable, so you're in the right place! 

  1. Use seeds or bulbs

Everyone will tell you that starting with seeds or bulbs is cheaper, so if you’re really on a budget, don’t hesitate to give this a try. If you’re looking for friends in the gardening community who could potentially give you a hand, look into a seed swap in your area. This is an event where everyone brings seeds from their garden from the year before and swaps to get a little bit of everything.

However, using seeds requires incredible amounts of patience. Most perennial plants grown from seed take 2-3 years to grow to maturity and only sprout if stratified or sown in very controlled environments. That's what we're here for :)

Hand sowing garden seeds
  1. Take cuttings

Okay, so not everything is grown from seeds or bulbs. For example, you won’t find people growing blueberries from seeds. If you have a friend or neighbor that has your desired plant, you can cut a few pencil sized sticks from it, pot them in moist perlite, and grow your own roots to plant in just a few weeks’ time.

Again, growing plants from cuttings is not for the impatient, so you'll want to keep in-mind that you'll be saving money, but won't be saving time.

  1. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose

You’ll find a lot of suggestions on how to grow plants without spending money on plants themselves. And, while this is helpful, it completely ignores how much you spend on hardscape materials. Where are you supposed to get the money for planters, pavers, and other gardening supplies?

This is where you should repurpose and forage for any supplies you can come by. You’ll often see people using old bathtubs or used wood pallets as planters or looking for free bamboo to make stakes and arbors out of. Getting creative with what you can repurpose can really save your budget when you’re not sure how you’ll find all of your supplies.

If you've bought anything from New Leaves, you'll see that I highly recommend utilizing mulch for your planting to ensure success and large plantings can require a ton of mulch. If you have large plantings and need lots of mulch, you can typically find bulk, cheap mulch on Craigslist or Nextdoor. You can also call local Tree Services in your area and see if they'd sell you tree mulch for cheap.

  1. Stay natural

Growing your garden organically has its financial benefits. Chemical pesticides cost money, and there are alternatives. Investigate companion planting as a natural means of repelling pests and use composting to return nutrients to the soil. For hundreds of years, gardeners found ways to repel pests without chemical pesticides. You can too! Just do a little bit of research to stay natural.

Final thoughts

It’s totally possible to grow a garden on a budget. It just takes a little bit of patience and creativity. You’ve got this!