When you are gardening on a budget like our family, finding low cost ways to add landscaping to a yard might have you stymied. One of the more obvious ways to save money on landscaping is doing all of the work yourself. Another strategy is to look for free trees, shrubs, and plants. Here are 9 ideas to get you started.
Take cuttings. Before there were commercial nurseries, people got their garden plants from friends. Most of the plants in my yard came from cuttings, divided bulbs, or volunteer seedlings that grew in my neighbors flower beds.
Collect seeds. Many plants grow well from seeds. Seeds can be gathered from friends and neighbors, neighborhood parks, or even harvested from wild flowers found on public lands.
Visit Earth Day festivals. Every year, the Arbor Day Foundation gives away pine saplings at community Earth Day festivals to plant in our yards. If your community doesn’t offer this event, visit Arborday.org where a tax deductible $15 membership entitles the donor to ten free trees.
Dumpster dive. The end of the gardening season is a great time to find free plants and trees at your local Big Box stores. One of my neighbors frequently hits the dumpsters behind her favorite garden center to find discarded plants.
Transplants. When my mother-in-law needed to get rid of some lilac bushes a few years ago, my husband and I dug them up and brought them to our yard instead. The next time a friend or relative mentions that they plan on removing some shrubs or flower bushes, offer to help in exchange for the plant.
Volunteer. Over the years, our family has volunteered at a number of neighborhood beautification events that included a landscaping component. Not only are events like these fun and worthwhile, any unused landscaping materials left at the end of the day is often sent home with the volunteers to avoid waste.
Urban Foresters. If your city sponsors an Arbor Day re-leafing program like ours do, call the Department of Urban Forestry to ask about free trees in your right-of-way.
Freecycle.org. The ultimate recycling network, freecycle.org is another resource for free trees, free plants, and free landscaping materials.
Organize a plant exchange. Our neighborhood association regularly hosts a plant exchange where neighbors can bring seeds, bulbs they have dug up, or potted “volunteer” plants to trade with other neighbors. An organized event like this is a fantastic way to get free plants and trees, while meeting your neighbors as well.
More by this contributor:
Yard trees to avoid.
How to plan an urban orchard.
How to organize a plant exchange.