Five Tips for Saving Money in Late-Summer and Fall Gardens

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner

Gardening can get expensive at times. That’s why I’m always looking for ways to save money in my garden, especially in the late-summer and fall.

Here are five fast tips for saving money with garden-related projects:

1) Make Compost: Much of that garden waste you’re cleaning up now should go into a compost pile.  That includes fallen leaves, which will decompose faster if you shred them first with the lawn mower.


By recycling this organic matter into rich compost, you’ll have a great soil amendment for future growing seasons. I’m a big fan of the Fiskars Eco Bin 75-gallon composter. In fact, I use two: One to store new garden waste; the other to allow older waste to finish decomposing into black gold for the garden. The mesh sides and open bottoms on these composters speed up the process.

2) Buy in Bulk: It really pays to buy soil amendments in bulk, rather than by the bag. For instance, mulch is a great way to reduce weeds in the garden and save water. In northern climates, mulch can help protect plants from winter damage too. However, it’s nearly always less expensive to buy a cubic yard of mulch – which covers approximately 100 square feet at 3 inches deep – rather than buying the same amount of bagged mulch from the store.  If you don’t have a truck, work out a deal with a friend, so you can skip the delivery charge and transport the mulch yourself to save extra money.

Some commercial sanitary departments give away composted leaves for free, or at a reduced price. Check with your local company.

Hydrangea Fall

3) Divide Plants: Just one overgrown perennial can provide several smaller plants to use around the garden. Fall is a great time to divide perennials. The best time is when the plants have lost their leaves and are about to go dormant. Use these plant divisions to fill in empty spots around your garden. Or, share extras with friends.  Better yet, host a “garden swap” with neighbors, family members and friends. Ask everyone to bring well-labeled, divided perennial starts to swap with others. It’s a fun and FREE way to get more great plants for your garden.

4) Shop Around: A little research will save you lots of money when it comes to buying garden supplies. Around this time of year, local garden centers offer end-of-season rates for perennials, trees and shrubs.  In most cases, this is a great time to plant anyway, so the timing couldn’t be better.  Garden supplies also tend to be on sale around now, so keep your eyes open and snatch up some good deals for now and the next growing season.

Rain barrel

5) Collect Rainwater: This money-saving tip will benefit you all four seasons. Save big bucks on your water bills and reduce your water usage with a rain barrel that collects the rainwater for your garden’s irrigation needs.

It’s definitely worth it. Just one inch of rain on a thousand feet of roof surface equals about 625 gallons of free, harvestable water. So you can see why it pays to use a rain barrel in your garden. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing you’re recycling water, which is a precious resource in much of the nation right now.

Whether you’re buying in bulk, swapping plants with friends or making your own soil amendments, you’ll find there are lots of ways to save money in the garden all year long