9 Ways to Save on Summer Gardening

If you are fortunate enough to have outdoor space — be it a fire escape, patio or yard — then you know just how much of your disposable income can be spent beautifying it. To say nothing of the decisions required: Plants! Planters! Grass or mulch? And will I kill all of those pretty flowers I just brought home? The options are expansive — and expensive.

But you can have a beautiful outdoor space on a budget. Lisa Cangialosi, owner of New York-based landscape design company When in Bloom Inc., offers up nine creative ways to stay within your means this summer, no matter how big a patch of earth you have to tend to.

Know thy space

Browsing the local nursery without a plan is like shopping on an empty stomach: It can result in major buyer’s remorse — not to mention unhappy blooms.

First, ask yourself a few key questions: Do you have full sun or shade? A rooftop spot or ground-level garden?

“Determine your climate: Rooftops can be hot, ground-level gardens, humid,” explained Cangialosi. If you’ve got shade, buying the pretty flowers that require full sun means they won’t live to see July.

“Look at drainage,” she added. Make sure liquid has a way to escape when watering plants or if it rains. “Plants don’t like their roots wet — it’s like sitting in a wet diaper,” she says. Once you have a proper drainage system in place, then you can shop and plant. (For tips on how to do drainage right, see the next tip.)

Skip the pricey planters

If you’re in the market for a container garden, the costs can add up quickly, with planters running into the hundreds of dollars. Luckily, there’s a cheaper (and chic) option.

“You can definitely skimp and get the less-expensive pots. IKEA has great options — but you have to augment slightly,” said Cangialosi.

This brings us back to drainage. Cangialosi suggests drilling holes in the bottom of pots that don’t come with them, or placing a pot within a pot, with gravel between the two, so the water overage has a place to go.

Invest in perennials

Perennial plants come back each year, while annuals are yours to enjoy for just one season. That’s why buying the latter is an amateur gardener mistake.

“Perennials are roughly the same price as annuals, but you’ll have them year after year,” explained Cangialosi.

In fact, she says, they can return for anywhere from six to 20 years, which is a far better return on your botanical investment.

Bonus: You’ll save time and money.

“If you put enough plants in, they’ll fill your space nicely, and you won’t even have to weed as often,” she said.gardening-digs-02b300-768x1024