8 Ways to Garden on the $Cheap

Gardening is a fantastic hobby, but let’s face, it ain’t always cheap. From garden beds to soil to fertiliser to plants, no matter where you live, the costs can mount up. Add to that the recent worldwide price rises caused by a certain pandemic, and gardening can easily become an expensive hobby.

the Self Sufficient Me home garden

But I think you’ll agree that gardeners are optimists who never give up. This is a challenging hobby that teaches us, if nothing else, to find a way to get things growing. So let’s look at 10 ways we can easily save money and still get our gardening joy.

Yarrow seed

Grow from Seed

We all know that seedlings (starts) are expensive, especially if you’re buying a whole lot at once. And while it’s true that they save time and are great for beginners, if you buy seedlings every season it’s a cost that will never stop.

Growing from seed is far cheaper- you can pay as little as $1.50 for a packet of seeds, versus $1.50 for a single seedling. Yes, it’s more of a challenge and takes more time, but will save you a ton of money in the long run. If you use non-hybrid seed, you’ll be able to save your own seed at the end of the season too, so won’t need to buy seed for the following year.

Engage with Your Local Gardening Community

Unless you’re really rural, most areas have some sort of community garden and/or gardening groups happening regularly (Facebook is the best place to look for one). Many hold regular swap days, where you’ll be able to swap plants, seeds and gardening supplies & accessories, which can save a lot of money. Gardeners are a happy bunch, and most willingly share knowledge, tips & tricks, too.

This cutting has been rooted in water and is ready to be planted out

Grow from Cuttings

Don’t be afraid to ask for cuttings- it’s often the best way to grow things! Most will easily take root in water (here’s our guide on how to do that) and some can even be planted straight into a pot of soil. Friends, family and online community groups are the best places to start. Of course not everything will grow from a cutting, but many perennials do, and in fact grow better from cuttings than from seed.

Taking cuttings from your own plants helps too. Not only do you get more plants for free, but you know that they’re healthy and will thrive in your own microclimate.

Upcycle & Repurpose

There’s a myriad of things you can upcycle for re-use in the home garden- here’s a few examples from my own garden. Items like rubbish bins (metal and plastic both work), infant wading pools, old buckets, feed drums, bathtubs (great as a worm farm), 44 gallon drums, reo, fencing panels, IBCs, old wheelbarrows and more can all be used in different & creative ways that add interest to the garden and save you money.

Many of these items can be found for free or very cheaply. Marketplace, Gumtree and Craigslist are great online sources, while tip shops, recycling depots and kerbside clearout can also yield fantastic results.

Make Your Own Fertiliser

I don’t think I need to tell you how expensive fertilisers are- but did you know you can make quite a lot of it yourself for a very low cost? Compost, worm castings & worm tea, plus animal manures are all excellent fertilisers that you can produce inexpensively on your own property. Compost bays or beds can be home-made from pallets on the cheap, worm farms can be constructed with a foam box plus a few other scraps, and in-ground worm towers are easy to make by drilling holes in an old piece of PVC pipe.

Keeping your own flock of chickens is a simple way to generate animal manure for your garden. Even a small suburban block can host a few chickens, which will be enough to fertilise a few garden beds (always check local regulations before buying animals). If you have a rural property, you may be able to keep larger animals which of course provide large amounts of manure.

Get Free Mulch

Depending on where you live, various mulches can easily be sourced for free. Wood chip, in particular, is easy to find by simply ringing your local tree lopper. These types of businesses are usually happy to give away their loads at the end of the day, as it saves them having to pay to dump it. If you live near a farm, you might be able to acquire some of their by-products to use as mulch; you only have to ask.

DIY Garden Sprays

There’s no need to buy expensive garden sprays when you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Plus, if you garden organically, your needs should be minimal. Our home-made remedies will help with a variety of pest problems and only contain natural & easily-sourced ingredients. Liquid fertiliser, too, is cheap & easy to make from things you already have, like compost, worm castings, and weeds.

Use Your Kitchen Scraps

Kitchen scraps are useful throughout the garden. You can feed them to animals, bury them directly in garden beds, compost them, and put them in worm farms and worm towers. In fact, once you have a garden you should never need to throw them away ever again. To find out more about what you can bury directly into garden beds as fertiliser, see our detailed article here

Don’t forget, some kitchen scraps can be used to grow new plants (check out or youtube guide on re-growing from scraps). Things like pineapples, potatoes, garlic, onions and ginger (just to name a few) will grow from offcuts and save you money on buying more plants.

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