The RHS Chelsea Flower Show will likely be inspiring people up and down the country to spruce up their gardens. However, it is easy to spend a lot on gardening with the costs soon mounting up.
Which? Gardening is sharing its top tips and tricks to help green-fingered consumers refresh their garden on a budget.
1. Take cuttings and try plant fairs for cheaper plants
An easy way to save on plants is to take cuttings rather than buying new plants. A cutting means a piece of the stem or root of a plant is used to grow the plant – and is free. Dividing plants and sowing seeds might take a bit of work, and take longer to get results, but you end up with lots of plants at very little cost.
You can often find rare and unusual plants for a fraction of the usual cost at plant fairs, often run by local gardening clubs such as the Hardy Plant Society, which has local groups up and down the country. It is also worth searching on local Facebook groups for plant fairs coming up in your area. Plant fairs often sell plants for pounds cheaper than at garden centres.
If you’re prepared to give your plant a bit of TLC, it’s worth checking the ‘casualty corner’ in your local garden centre where they often sell off plants that aren’t at their best. Many of the plants in this section can be nursed back to health and others are just out of season with nothing wrong at all.
2. Grow your own fruit and veg
Growing your own fruit and veg is worth the effort and can also save money on supermarket bills. Fruit is surprisingly easy to grow and once planted, there’s little expense involved in growing it.
Which? analysed the possible savings from growing your own produce versus how much you’d spend in the supermarket and found you can make considerable savings. For example, you could save £10.60 per kg by growing your own raspberries. A £3 raspberry plant generally yields around 1.25 kg of raspberries per plant each year – 1 kg of raspberries in a supermarket would cost £13.
Vegetables can easily be grown in pots if you don’t have a garden. If you’re pushed for space, you might be able to find smaller varieties to save space such as the dwarf variety of tomato ‘Tumbling Bella’ which are small enough for hanging baskets. Salad leaves, carrots, radishes, and herbs can also be sown in pots.
3. Save on garden tools
Don’t assume you need to spend more to get the best gardening tools. Which? testing found cheaper options that don’t break the bank, including Best Buy lawn mowers from £150 and hedge trimmers from £65, which performed better than more expensive models costing over £500.
Generally, corded electric tools will be cheaper to buy. Avoid the inconvenience of having a power cable by buying a long outdoor extension cord so you can reach the bottom of your garden. Make sure it has an RCD to keep you safe if the cable is damaged.
To help your tools last longer, clean them after use and take care to store them somewhere dry. Blades can be sharpened and you can buy spare parts to keep tools working effectively.
4. Recycle and compost
Recycling is not only beneficial to the environment, but it can save you money as well. For example, plastic containers can be reused for growing plants in – make drainage holes if they don’t have any already – lollipop sticks can be used as labels and old tights can be cut up and used as plant ties.
One of the best ways to recycle is to compost your garden and kitchen waste. Many local councils sell discount compost bins or you can make one using four pallets held together with heavy-duty wire. The secret of success is to mix up the material as you add it so you don’t get thick layers of one thing, such as grass clippings. A great tip is to add a spadeful of soil every time you add grass clippings as it will help them rot down. The compost can then be spread on bare soil where worms will drag it into the soil to improve it.
5. Create a bee-friendly space
Our gardens are vital habitats for the wide array of bumblebees found in the UK. To help feed the 270 species of bees in the UK, you can try growing Which? recommended plants, or make a bee hotel.
Which? Gardening has identified and tested different varieties of plants to find the best plants for bees for every season – as it is important to try to provide pollen and nectar for as many months of the year as possible. For late Spring to Summer months, foxgloves, delphiniums, heucheras, and lavender are great for attracting bees.
As part of its Get Answers campaign, which aims to bring the consumer champion’s free expert advice to more people than ever before, Which? is highlighting the everyday life questions its experts can help to answer.
For details about the best plants and flowers for bees, consumers can visit Which?’s free guide.
Ceri Thomas, Editor of Which? Gardening, said:
“It’s great to get out and enjoy gardening, but it can be an expensive hobby. Luckily there are plenty of ways you can keep costs down.
“Budding gardeners can access a wide range of free, expert advice on Which?’s website, to ensure they make the most of their gardens this summer without breaking the bank.”
Notes to editors:
Which?’s Get Answers campaign
Which?’s ‘Get Answers’ brand campaign showcases the breadth and depth of free, accessible and expert advice offered by Which?.
On Wednesday 24th May the consumer champion’s ‘Home of Answers’ activity goes live in London, with fly poster QR codes spread around the city allowing people to get answers to life’s everyday questions in an accessible way. TV presenter Laura Whitmore will be helping members of the public to interact with several special QR codes – including a ‘living’ QR code made of real moss on the way to the Chelsea Flower Show that gives advice on the best plants for bees, a giant parking ticket at a London parking fine hotspot, a jigsaw-themed QR code on the South Bank pointing to advice for family days out, and a UV QR code in Old Street giving night owls advice on how to sleep better.
Further activity includes a ‘Home of Answers’ day in Manchester on 31st May, in which a billboard will be brought to life with real-life experts sitting behind windows within the hoarding, ready to get answers for passers-by on key issues of the day, from saving money, to travel tips or even avoiding scams.