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Money Saving Tips for Container Gardens

Updated on November 29, 2011

It's time to plant

When the days start to warm up from the cold dark dreary winter, and the peepers start singing at dusk, I get excited for spring. As I watch my perennials start to sprout and the trees fill the yard with colorful fragrant blossoms, it’s time to start thinking about planting my container gardens. As I thumb through countless pages of gardening magazines and flyers the wheels start turning and the ideas start flowing. In a day where we try to make the dollar stretch as far as possible, the money I spend for such a short season is my only concern. I guess it’s no worse than spending my money on a ball game for one night, or dropping a couple hundred on a concert, right?

In the past few years I have come across a few money saving tips that I thought fellow gardeners might want to know about. If you’re like me, you want to use quality ingredients for beautiful healthy looking plants, without empting your bank account. These money saving tips can be use almost anywhere in the world, and you could actually save about 50% on your garden plants and your container gardens this year. Sounds good? Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Recovery bags found at local home and garden stores

Tip number one, saving 50% when buying potting soil for your containers.

 I found this tip by accident one year.  I was at the local home improvement store picking up potting soil for my containers, it was late in the season and pickings were slim at the least. I noticed a bunch of bags of potting soil all taped up and piled in the corner. I asked one of the store associates if there were any bags of potting soil that weren’t damaged, his reply was “that’s all we have left, but we will sell you those bags for 50% off regular price” the light bulb went off in my head.  You have to be a fool too not except an offer like that, I bought all they had in stock, potting soil does not go bad, and so I stocked up.

This was Miracle gro moisture control potting mix, this high end potting soil, probably the most expensive potting soil on the market and I was buying it for less than the bottom grade soil.  Since that day I always scan the garden centers for damaged bags of soil, they call them “recovery bags”. I find all the home improvement stores do this price reduction on damaged products, you have to agree, it’s a great way to save a few bucks.

Use a small pot up side down inside a large pot

Tip number two, skimp on potting soil and save money.

 The second money saving tip when planting you container gardens is going to freak you out! I always wondered how the flower stores made money selling pre made planters.  Some of the pots that are pre designed are huge!  My thought was “They sure do use an awful lot of soil, how can they make money?”  What I found is that when they make these huge planters and sell them for $45, they have a little trick to save money. Inside of each of these big pots is a smaller pot turned upside down that takes up space so they only fill 2/3 of the pot.  See my pictures to get a visual.

If you going to user this method for your planters you need to make sure you don’t use too big of a pot inside the container, it will restrict the plant from growing to their true potential, plus the containers dry out quickly on hot days because of the lack of soil and water retention. You just want to create a void at the very bottom of the large planter.  One other problem with this money saving tip is, if you plan to water your plants from the bottom it won’t work because the soil does not reach the bottom of the large planter, their fore the water cannot be drawn from the bottom of the pot.

 One more idea to take up space is to add crush stone or big rocks to the bottom of your large planters, the only problem with that is the containers tend to be very heavy and almost impossible to move so if you plan on leaving the planter in the same spot all summer, go for it, even the strongest wind wont tip that pot over.

Tip number three, free perennials are easy to find if you look.

 Tip number three seems very obvious but I think it is overlooked quite often.  I have found some of my favorite plants doing this and I found them dirt cheap….excuse the pun.  Looking in the weekend paper or craigslist, it’s a great way to find local gardeners who are splitting up some of their perennials early in the season, the best part is… they are selling the other half for almost nothing.  I came across someone who was splitting up their perennials and giving the other half away for free, they were happy they didn’t have to dump the plants and I was happy getting them for free. No gardener likes to throw away good healthy plants.

Small local greenhouses are where the best deals are. You can help you local economy and community by buying plants from local greenhouses, plus you even might meet someone there who is splitting up some perennials. If you live in a neighborhood where your friendly with your neighbors, get together with the ones cleaning up their yards and trimming back their perennials, you can do a little trading and add to your collection. Who knows, you might even make a couple bucks cleaning up your own gardens this year by potting up your leftovers and running your own ad on craigslist.

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