Having an inviting, lush yard full of flowers, plants and veggies is very important to me — it just makes me proud to show off my home! I suppose you could say that I love gardening, but really I just love the outcome of gardening. I actually hate spending a lot of time and money to get to the end result, so I’m always on the hunt for good gardening tips. Over the years I’ve made many mistakes, but I’ve also learned quite a bit about creating a cheerful garden on a budget. Here are eight of my favorite money-saving gardening tips:

1. Buy at the right time

Stores stock up on flowers, plants and other gardening essentials during the peak gardening time – late spring through the summer months. Once September rolls around, stores start reducing prices to get rid of all of their leftover stock, which is why September is the perfect time to buy your gardening supplies. Not only is this the best time to score some deals, but September is an ideal time to plant perennials such as peonies and daisies. If you feel like you can’t wait until September, shop early. In early spring you’ll still be able to score a box of perennials for about half of what they’ll cost you come mid-summer, when prices are at their peak.

2. Start with seeds

It’s very tempting to buy all of your plants already full and blooming with flowers, but you can save yourself a bundle by starting with seeds instead. Although perennials can take a few years to start blossoming with seeds, annual flowers such as poppies, zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers are very easy to grow from seeds – even for a novice. If you’re thinking about starting a vegetable garden, basil, lettuce, chard, cucumbers and carrots are all considered easy for beginners to grow.

3. Grow plants from cuttings

This is one of my favorite money-saving tips for gardeners because not only is it quite simple, but it’s really pretty cool! You can actually grow new plants from old cuttings! When I first started researching how to get my garden into shape, I had no idea that this was possible, but it turns out that you can do this with many different types of plants and flowers such as hydrangeas, gardenias, roses, honeysuckles, geraniums and many others. In order for the plants to grow, it is important to prepare and plant the clippings at the right time, so a little research will be in order, but what better way to save on plants than to grow your own! To learn more about how to grow plants from cuttings, check out this article, which gives a nice step-by-step guide.

4. Buy native plants

I have to admit, when I pick out flowers, I usually just pick the ones that I think are the most attractive, and I don’t even look to see if they are native to the area. But that can be a costly mistake! Buying plants that aren’t naturally occurring in your neck of the woods can mean that they may easily die (and not come back) if they get too hot or if a freeze comes along. No one wants to constantly buy new flowers, so instead, opt for native flora, which will usually establish itself after just one season. To find out which plants are native to your area, check out PlantNative or the University of Austin’s Wildflower Center.

5. Do your research

This tip goes hand in hand with tip number four, but even if you decide to purchase plants that aren’t native, research is essential if you don’t want to end up with a garden full of wilted blooms. I’ve often bought plants without knowing anything at all about them and, inevitably, they all died. Maybe I planted them at the wrong time or in the wrong light, or who knows what! I can’t even count how many times I’ve purchased plants, had them die, and then purchased more plants to take their place. Had I done just a bit of research beforehand, I could have saved myself quite a bit of time – and money. The most important thing to find out first is what zone you’re in, which will help you determine which types of plants will grow well where you live. You can find your zone, along with tons of other information about gardening on the National Gardening Association’s website.

6. Check out discount stores

When it comes to plants and gardening supplies, you may automatically head to the home improvement store. But you may want to think again — discount stores can yield some great finds! Many discount stores such as Aldi, Big Lots, and many of the dollar stores carry all sorts of gardening goodies such as seeds, pots, and even plants. Last summer I scored gardening shovels, gloves and kneeling boards for a buck each at my local dollar store!

7. Search online for freebies

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – free? Yeah, right! However, there are actually some good resources out there for finding free items. One of my favorites is Freecycle.org, a nonprofit group whose members give away unwanted items instead of disposing of them. It’s free to sign up and has over nine million members worldwide. I did a quick search in my area and found people giving away all sorts of items, including one who was giving away mulch! Another great resource is your city government website. Many cities offer free (or cheap) trees, plants, and mulch to residents at certain times during the year. Last year I got two trees from my city through their tree-sharing program.

8. Swap seeds

Most packets of seeds come with way more than you’ll need, so why not organize a seed swap with your neighbors and friends? Have everyone bring their unused and unwanted seeds (or plants) and swap! Everyone can share their gardening experiences and talk about what items they brought. Not only will you end up with all different types of seeds for free, but you’ll get to spend a fun afternoon with friends and maybe even learn a thing or two!

8 Ways to Save on Gardening