:::: MENU ::::

Landscaping Help


The beautiful spring weather has inspired me to spend more time outdoors in my yard. I’m working with the plans drawn by the landscape architect at the free garden show to create an inviting space.

I excitedly went to our local nursery and realized the 15 bucks I budgeted for landscaping each month would allow me to complete my dream backyard sometime in 2037.

Um. Someone forgot to tell me how expensive plants are.

Disappointed, I went to work and lamented to a co-worker about my landscaping situation. She sweetly offered me some cuttings of her plants – several of which were on the list from the landscape architect. While we were talking, another one of my co-workers walked by and joined the conversation. He suggested I contact local garden clubs including water saving cactus clubs. He happened to be moving and offered to bring in several of his plants that matched my list. Let’s just not tell these generous co-workers about my history of plant killing OK?

Inspired, I can home and did some research and thought I’d share it with you.

I found several garden clubs – some of which offer spring plant sales.

Our local college offers a degree program in Ornamental Horticulture. Students grow plants and sell them for less than half of what they retail for at nurseries.

Our local dump (should I be politically correct and call it a ‘Solid Waste Disposal Site’?) offers high quality mulch in several different colors and sizes. If you are willing to load it yourself, you can save a fortune.

And perhaps the most odd place to find plants… our local 99 cent store!

Any ideas I missed? Where do you get your plants?


  • Reply DCS |

    Around here sneaky people sometimes dump excess plant material with yard waste on public lands or vacant lots where they take root. What daylilies and iris do in Michigan, cactus might do in the desert SW (I assume that’s where you are since you’re looking for cactus). Just make sure it’s non-native material in a dumped pile. Don’t go digging up the place and/or swiping native plants.

    Mail order can sometimes be a good source for smaller, and therefore cheaper, plants if you’re willing to wait for them to fill in. Smaller/cheaper/earlier and bigger/costlier/later probably equal out in five years or so.

    Up here you can often get good deals at the end of the season, and they do just as well (if not better) than costlier ones planted in June. Not sure if that’s true with your growing season vs. off season. You just have to deal with a smaller selection and be open to substitutions or waiting for the right thing to come along.

    I’ve also gone to friends and offered to divide things I like in exchange for a some of the divisions. Most gardeners (and non-gardeners even more so) are happy to trade that grunt work for a chunk or two of the divided-up plant.

  • Reply Curtis |

    I get plants from my next door neighbor who is a landscaper. In the course of his weekly work he pulls out other people’s landscaping to replant. They often end up with piles of plants that are still fine, just not desired. He keeps an eye out for us and brings by stuff he thinks would work well in our yard.

  • Reply Mara |

    You can find tons of free listings on Craigslist from folks who want to get rid of plants in their backyard. Most often they just want you to dig it out and it’s yours for the taking.

  • Reply grahamphx |

    You might check out the entry on a “Neighborhood Plant Swap” by Get Rich Slowly. (http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/04/26/the-neighborhood-plant-swap/)

    You might need to organize it yourself, but it seems like a really great way to get plants!

  • Reply Kev |

    Great tips. I’m the local idiot who buys all this stuff at home improvement stores & green houses. Nothing like dropping two hundred bucks a year on dirt and vegetation…

    I will say this though – Scott’s naturalscapes color enhanced mulch is worth every penny of it’s ridiculous price. That stuff keeps it color all year long.

  • Reply SmileyGirl |

    Excited to read about your adventure. Only one request…could you enlarge your font size just a bit. I usually read in an RSS feeder and the font is just way too tiny. thanks!

  • Reply Matt |

    We’re trying to grow some from seeds though thats a bit more of a challenge than I would have ever thought.

  • Reply melissa |

    i hear ya!! i’ve spend more than you so far this year on outdoor plants… all perennials, a couple bushes and a tree. it is expensive. i’m going to look into some of this stuff. ’cause even though i’ve spent a ton, my front garden looks bare!!!

  • Reply E.D. |

    If you can’t get a cutting, bluestoneperennials.com is a good place to get smaller plants at lower prices. Plus, they offer a recycling credit if you ship materials back. I’ve used them probably five times in the past few years.

  • Reply Shaun |

    I bought some carrots the other day. For some reason, I’m really excited about planting the little guys and watching them grow up so I can eat them.

    But so far I’ve never been able to get anything to grow, and I’ve tried 2 or 3 times. =/

    (I realize this was kind of random, but it seemed appropriate to talk about, for some reason.)

  • Reply SusanLI |

    Craigslist is a good idea. We also plant a lot of bulbs – and what began as 20 bulbs 15 years ago, well, we have quite a few bulbs now. 🙂 Our backyard garden fills up with hosta, assorted lilies – all with little or no work on our part. It’s nice. 🙂

  • Reply DCS |

    Oh hey I forgot about that Curtis. One year we moved into a new building at work, and The Boss didn’t like the landscaping and had it ripped out. They finished one half of the building one day, so I went out and asked if they were doing the same to the other side the next morning, and if so would anyone care if I took some of the plants.

    Some things I *really* wanted they had decided to keep in the new scheme, some I would have liked to have were just too big to get without time to prep them for transplant, and some stuff just didn’t take after the move. Enough did pull through that it was worth the effort though. Plus, you get nice, big plants that would cost a pretty penny at the nursery.

    I must admit, I did get some strange looks from colleagues when I showed up in my “farm truck” (18 year old, rusty pickup) with shovel in hand and started going at the landscaping. I got a nice hunk of wrought iron fencing out of that deal too!

  • Reply Scout |

    Your local farmers’ market will likely have great deals on plants, especially vegetables and herbs. Many of the plants may be heirloom varietals which tend to perform better in the local climate than the types bought at the ‘big box’ stores. Also, patience is the frugal gardener’s friend. Buy plants small (and cheap) and enjoy watching them grow. When you buy a full grown plant, you will pay more for it.

  • Reply Nicole |

    I just bough all of mine from Home Depot. They have a ton of choices and the prices aren’t so bad. Of course when the grasshoppers demolish them I guess it’s a waste >:(

So, what do you think ?