How to save on gardening supplies

Story highlights

  • The more any plant is in demand, the more nurseries will charge for it
  • Multi-tasking tools can be just as effective as single-purpose ones
  • Use a timer to control the water your plants need and the cost of your utilities

Use these ideas to sow your seeds a little smarter -- and reap the financial benefits.

Shop early

Supply and demand rules at garden centers, and the selection is greatest early in the season. In the spring, you'll find one-gallon boxwoods costing about $8 each, but by the end of summer, large plants costing $30 or more will probably be the only ones left, says Marty Ross, a syndicated gardening columnist in Kansas City, Missouri.

Real Simple: Financial help for everyday money worries

Stick with one tool

Part knife and part trowel, a hori hori knife is a gardener's best friend. Use it to plant, to grub, and to remove deep-rooted weeds. Buying tools for those specific jobs can cost around $40.

Real Simple: Cut your energy costs

Cash in on compost

"Many municipalities pick up yard waste and turn it into free compost," says Ross. Ask the office of your town if your community participates.

Real Simple: 5 money-saving tips for summer

Purchase cell packs

Buying one large marigold plant for $8 can give your garden a head start, but a four-pack of smaller ones costs half the price and each of the tiny plants will grow to the size of the large one in just a few weeks.

Real Simple: Spend money to save money

Plant tough varieties

Daylilies, asters, and hostas are all vigorous and low-maintenance, which means you won't have to make another trip to the nursery for replacements.

Attach a timer to the spigot

A sprinkler or a soaker hose left running wastes a lot of water. Spend $15 now on a mechanical water timer and save on tomorrow's water bills.

Real Simple: How to save money without giving up too much

Buy native flora

After one season, they're completely established, so a nasty freeze shouldn't zap them. Purchase cone flowers (native in much of the country), or go to to learn what grows naturally in your region.

Real Simple: How to save $5,000 this year