How to save on gardening supplies

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
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.
Stick with one tool
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.
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.
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.
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 to learn what grows naturally in your region.