When we bought our house 2 years ago, we removed almost all of the lawn, leaving only the parking strip in the front and a small patch of lawn on each side of the front walkway. That left a lot of empty space to fill. Even allowing for the future deck, grape arbor, raised vegetable beds, fruit trees and garden paths, there were still a lot of empty flower beds.
Since plants cost so much, especially perennials and shrubs, we had to figure out the least expensive ways to get the plants we wanted.
We planted some of our perennials from seeds, like Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea), Foxglove (Digitalis), Canterbury Bells (Campanula) and Delphiniums. It takes longer to get mature plants and blooms, but you sure get a lot of plants for your money. All of these did really well and come back each year.
Most of our flower beds are filled with roses and perennials, the majority of which were bought this time of year (Sep. & Oct.) when they had been marked down 50-75% because it’s near the end of the growing season and merchants want to get rid of them.
Some of the ones we bought looked pretty sad after a long, hot summer in a pot, but because they were perennials, it didn’t matter. I knew that if we got them in the ground and took good care of them that next Spring they would come back out and be beautiful.
So check out the garden centers and nurseries, don’t forget to check grocery stores that carry plants. Online nurseries also have some great deals because they are also trying to get rid of their stock before winter. It doesn’t matter if the plant is a little ratty looking, as long as it’s alive. This only applies to perennials, not annuals, which will die at the end of the season anyway.
A good source of free plants is from friends who have mature plants that need dividing. This is such a good source of plants because if a plant needs to be divided then you know that it grows well in your area.
Taking cuttings from plants and rooting, then potting them, is another good source of free plants.
Have an idea of the size of the space you’re trying to fill and read the plant labels to see if it’s a good fit. Perennials look good in groups of 3, 5 or 7 plants.
Use markers with the plants’ names and stick them in the ground where you plant them, because when they die down in the winter it might be hard to remember what you planted and where.
Not doing that is why I have some mystery plants in my garden that I hope to learn the name of one day.
Until your shrubs and perennials mature and reach their full size you’ll have room to plant annual seeds such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons and Marigolds. I’ve used these to fill in the spaces and they make great cutting flowers. Save the seeds from these and you’ll never have to buy seeds again.
You can have such a wonderful yard and not spend much money, just track down those bargains, don’t be afraid to plant seeds and make some good gardening friends who like to share.