Of course, gardening can be an extremely rewarding hobby but sometimes it doesn’t come cheap. However, you can have a beautiful garden without spending a fortune, all thanks to a little creative repurposing. Here are some budget garden tips and tricks that I’ve discovered over the years. You’re sure to find a use for one or more of them in your own yard.
I frequently reuse those dinky start containers you get with all your annual purchases. But these aren’t the only items that can be recycled. Gardeners can easily refurbish old hanging baskets with new potting soil or basket liners. Old wire coat hangers clipped into pieces can fix the broken basket cables. Or you can simply put the container on the ground and use it that way.
Of course, pots are occasionally sold for rock bottom prices at thrift stores. Or, you might luck out and get the for free. Neighbors who are moving often don’t want the hassle of dragging along empty or even full containers. My sister once found some huge planters that her neighbor was throwing out. She rescued them from the curb.
You can also turn old tin cans, shipping crates, plastic buckets/tubs or bottles into planters. Anything that holds soil and has drainage holes works. If the plastic container doesn’t have drainage holes, it’s easy to add them with a drill. Just be careful what you use if you’re growing edible plants. Harmful substances can be absorbed through the soil into your herbs and veggies. Therefore, you’ll only want to use only food grade plastics or untreated lumber for growing food crops.
Creative Trellises & Stakes
You can often make use of preexisting walls and latticework when it comes to climbing vines. Using these structures means that you don’t have to put any new ones up. Just keep in mind the weight of the plant in question. Obviously hardy perennials like hops and grapes are going to need sturdier supports than things like peas and tomatoes.
I’ve also discovered that upside-down tomato cages work just as well as ordinary trellises for lightweight plants. These have the added bonus that they are cost around $7 less than the cheapest regular wood or metal trellises sold by garden centers. However, these structures are not totally sturdy and they can flip easily in high winds. You might want to put a few heavy stones/bricks/etc. around the base of the container or in the container itself to hold it steady.
Many gardeners have heard about using broken branches for peas and other lightweight plants to climb. Other sticks and limbs from the yard can be used to support plants in the same fashion as stakes. Handles from broken household items like shovels, rakes, and brooms also make good stakes.
I’ve also used takeout tableware for similar purposes to help hold up floppy seedlings. Real knives and forks can likewise be used but you may run into problems with whoever rules your kitchen. Of course, you can also take the pieces from broken wood trellises as stakes or run sturdy string between them to form string trellises. Or you can simply hammer them back together if they’re not too badly broken.
More Budget Garden Tips & Tricks
Gardeners can easily set up rain barrels at the edge of their roofs, to cut down their water bills or cope with droughts. This could be as elaborate as setting up a store-bought or homemade rain capture system or as simple as using buckets under the eaves or gutter downspouts to catch rainwater. I use what I collect the next day or, if it’s still raining outside, I put the extra up the rest in old two liter soda bottles. Plastic bottles not only work as rainwater storage devices, they can also be used as watering cans and plant containers.
Of course you need somewhere to put all your container plants and gardening supplies. That’s where recycled shelves come in. These can be as simple as old indoor shelving units that have been given new life outdoors. Or perhaps you’ve found an old dresser, shipping pallet, or cement blocks with boards between them that can serve a similar purpose. I’ve even seen a set up that was created by arranging wooden slats through the rungs of two old ladders. However, you’ll definitely want to paint wooden shelves or repurposed containers with some sort sealant before putting them to work. Otherwise they fall apart more rapidly outdoors.
More Creative Uses for Broken Bits
Old bricks make great multipurpose garden items. They are useful for edging beds, stabilizing containers, and so on. Broken terracotta also have several different uses in the garden. And who hasn’t broken a pot or two at some point? I have used broken terracotta as mulch in a container full of creeping rosemary. I have also used the pieces to prop up small plants that were drooping. It even makes a great decorative element in succulent containers. An added bonus is that it additionally helps water slope away from the stems of sensitive plants.
Just keep in mind that duct taping terracotta planters back together doesn’t work well. The containers drain quickly and this often kills sensitive plants. I know this from tragic personal experience. You might have more luck with using waterproof epoxy instead. But proceed at your own risk. As always, happy gardening.