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How to save on gardening supplies

By Carlos Greer, Real Simple
August 6, 2013 -- Updated 1707 GMT (0107 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The more any plant is in demand, the more nurseries will charge for it
  • Multi-tasking tools can be just as effective as single-purpose ones
  • Use a timer to control the water your plants need and the cost of your utilities

(CNN) -- Use these ideas to sow your seeds a little smarter -- and reap the financial benefits.

Shop early

Supply and demand rules at garden centers, and the selection is greatest early in the season. In the spring, you'll find one-gallon boxwoods costing about $8 each, but by the end of summer, large plants costing $30 or more will probably be the only ones left, says Marty Ross, a syndicated gardening columnist in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Stick with one tool

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Part knife and part trowel, a hori hori knife is a gardener's best friend. Use it to plant, to grub, and to remove deep-rooted weeds. Buying tools for those specific jobs can cost around $40.

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Cash in on compost

"Many municipalities pick up yard waste and turn it into free compost," says Ross. Ask the office of your town if your community participates.

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Purchase cell packs

Buying one large marigold plant for $8 can give your garden a head start, but a four-pack of smaller ones costs half the price and each of the tiny plants will grow to the size of the large one in just a few weeks.

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Plant tough varieties

Daylilies, asters, and hostas are all vigorous and low-maintenance, which means you won't have to make another trip to the nursery for replacements.

Attach a timer to the spigot

A sprinkler or a soaker hose left running wastes a lot of water. Spend $15 now on a mechanical water timer and save on tomorrow's water bills.

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Buy native flora

After one season, they're completely established, so a nasty freeze shouldn't zap them. Purchase cone flowers (native in much of the country), or go to plantnative.org to learn what grows naturally in your region.

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