In our area, many homes are being torn down and replaced by larger, newer models. This means increased local home values, but it isn’t so great for established flowers, shrubs and trees. Bulldozers demolish the homes along with their greenery. What a waste. So I “go green” by saving these plants and saving money on my landscaping at the same time!

My husband and I recently remodeled our home. We realized we needed to spruce up our yard so it looked as great as our house. There was precious little left in the budget, however. Running around one day I noticed a house with a “Build On This Lot” sign in front. The yard was full of beautiful plants and flowering shrubs. I went back later for the phone number of the contractor listed on the sign. I left him a message asking for permission to dig up the plants on the property before demolition began. To my delight, he said “Yes!”  My husband dug up the plants, replanted in our yard and shared with the neighbors. We now have free, established plants growing in our yard instead of expensive seedlings from the local nursery.

Everything shown in the photo above in our yard was salvaged! The fence, flagstone, trellis, vintage shed window, flowers, and rose bushes were all acquired for free from people who were otherwise going to throw them away.

How To Salvage Plants In Your Area

  • Location, Location, Location: Scout out local neighborhoods where teardowns are frequent. Look for contractor and “rebuild” signs on properties.
  • Make Contact: Always ask permission before you take. Written permission (an email is OK) is preferable. Bring a copy with you in case curious neighbors inquire. If permission is by voice mail, save the message.
  • Bring Tools: Bring all the necessary tools to dig up your plants (shovels, trimmers, etc). Some plants may need to be cut back before you can dig them up for transport.
  • Beyond Green: What else can be salvaged in the yard? A fence? Flagstone? Bricks? Garden borders? People usually don’t want to take the time to salvage and reuse these items. If you offer to remove it, it could be yours!
  • Clean Up: Leave the site tidy. Even if the property is slated for tear down, respect the property and leave it as you found it.
  • Barter: Even if you don’t have an immediate use for some plants, take them and post them on to barter for plants you need and want.
  • Be Neighborly: Pass along your finds to friends and family for a more beautiful neighborhood!

Your efforts to salvage doomed plants will pay off as your yard “blossoms” before your eyes! The only price is a bit of time and sweat.

 This has been a guest post by Kristen from Arlington, VA
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4 thoughts on “How to Get Landscaping Plants for Free”

  1. REALLY great idea!!  I’m going to try this!

  2. Anonymous says:


    I like your style.  And what a blessing to have your husband part of the projects.

    I have found that once the word gets around people will offer you stuff.  And if you make an announcement in your social groups that you are looking for such salvage items, things may come to you. 

    You are wise to ask if you take the plants.  But what would you do if the lot is clearly vacant, plants are growing, but there is no contact info?? Would you go ahead an dig the plants??

    Another source of salvage buildings materials for gardening projects such as yours are the periodic large/bulk trash pickups in certain municipalities.  In Dallas, TX once a month residents put bulk items out for removal by the city sanitation department.  I have found gardening trellises, some plants, rocks (which sometimes they pick up and sometimes no), old bricks, lumber still in good condition, planting containers (which how I have amassed a number of plants for my patio).  Not only have I found gardening items I have also found still useful hold items such as tables, bath towels (go figure), shelving, clothes drying racks.

    Thanks for sharing some of your work with us.

  3. Christina Nellemann says:

    I love this idea!