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4 Ways to Get Cheap or Free Flower Gardening Supplies

Save Money on Compost, Mulch, and Planting Materials

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It’s fun to buy the latest gadgets and new plant introductions for the flower garden, but sometimes our green thumbs are bigger than our wallets. Discover four ways to satisfy your need to expand your flower gardens for little or no money.

1. Free Plants and Seeds

Photo © Tess Watson

Flower gardeners are a generous bunch, and most people love to share their plant and seed materials with other gardeners, especially ones who are new to the fold! There are several ways you can get hooked up with plant or seed swaps to find free flowers to start your garden:

  • Check with local or regional botanical gardens who often host annual plant swaps
  • Join an online flower gardening forum, where members connect to share seeds
  • Become a member of a flower club, and gain access to unusual varieties of your favorite flower

2. Free Compost

Photo © Kirsty Hall
Many homeowners haven’t discovered the joys of composting yet, which is unfortunate for them but can be beneficial for you. When these homeowners bag their grass clippings and yard waste for the trash service to haul away, the city may turn this raw material into compost at your local municipal yard waste facility. Bring your shovel and some buckets; because this free garden fertilizer is self-serve.

3. Free Mulch

Photo © Scot Hacker

Have you ever noticed a utility truck lifting a worker in a cherry picker up into the trees, allowing him to cut branches that threaten power lines? After all the trimming is done, the worker feeds these branches into a chipper, and then the company may have to pay a fee to dump these chips at the city’s waste management facility. Landscape companies and arborists face similar dilemmas when removing dead or nuisance trees from homeowners’ gardens.

In many cities, you can ask these companies to dump their wood chips on your driveway, where you can use them as free mulch for your flowerbeds. There are a couple of caveats to be aware of here:

  • This mulch isn’t the pretty stuff; it may contain thorns and greenery
  • Uncomposted wood chips may attract wasps or ants
  • You must wear elbow-length gloves to avoid potential contact with poison ivy

4. Cheap Garden Supplies

Photo © Corey Harmon

Estate sales are a fun way to get a peek into the way some people live their lives, and they are an opportunity for collectors and hobbyists to pay a dime on the dollar for gently used items. You will commonly find all kinds of flower gardening items at estate sales. After all, every homeowner needs a few basic tools to maintain his plot of land, and these are sold when the estate is liquidated.

Even if you don’t need another shovel or pair of pruning shears, look for unique pottery items, gardening books, and even live potted plants. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit the sale of an avid flower gardener and pick up a cold frame or potting bench. Go early on the first day of the sale to snatch up hot items that sell quickly, and go on the last day of the sale for the 50% off specials. You may never pay full price again!

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