A Garden That Won’t Grab Your Money But Will Grab Your Eye

We all want our gardens to look their best. This is especially the case when we have little ones to consider. The garden is their point of access to the outside, especially in their early years. It makes sense to want a garden that offers them as much outside experience as possible. But, there’s no denying that an elaborate garden can cost extortionate amounts, if you just splash the cash with unnecessary purchases. If you move into a garden that like ours, was in need of a complete over haul and a LOT of TLC you may need to stock up on materials, plants, and pay the bills to keep it all watered. All put together, those costs add up and fast. We often talk about saving money in the home, but we rarely consider how to save costs in our gardens. That’s why we’ve put together some points worth considering.

Spread The Love

bleeding hearts

You will, of course, want to fill your garden with beautiful blooms. Variety would be ideal but it isn’t always practical. To save money, you may be better off selecting a few plant types which spread well and will fill the empty spaces. Plants like Sweet Woodruff and Bishop’s Weed are fantastic for this. When using plants that spread, it’s possible to get a lot more for your money. And, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?

Go for big plats too such as Poppies and Hollyhocks. These are easy to grow and are large statement plants that look amazing but require minimum effort. My front garden doesn’t produce food (unlike our mini-farm back garden) and I have it crammed with low maintenance bushy plants.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own fruit and veg is a fantastic way to save money in the garden and is another way of getting the kids involved outside and having fun. You’ll still need to buy your equipment, but the amount of produce you receive will soon cover the costs. This will save you having to buy fruit and veg all year round. Of course you don’t need to dash to the garden centre and buy 100’s of plant pots, seeds and fancy digging equiptment. Keep your eyes peeled on Gumtree, Freecycle, Facebook selling pages and Schpock for cheap (and often free!) items. We were given a huge greenhouse for free recently, and all of our plant pots have been passed on by friends or given to us for free from garden centres who end up throwing loads in the skip (just like clothes shops do with hangers- another thing you never need to buy!).

If you wanted to, you could even make a little money growing food. Selling excess produce is sure to see a small profit or earning extra produce. I often swap food items for other items. It works fantastically and everyone saves a little cash! To ensure they get the most from their own gardening experience, get them involved in the whole process. Let them help with planning the garden, planting and maintenance, watering and then ensure they see the finished products. Kids love eating what they have grown and picked and it will teach kids a lot about food and where it comes from, something that many kids sadly struggle to understand in this modern world.

Your own water supply

Water supply is a major cost for any gardener. The more plants you have, the more water you’ll use. In the summer when rain is often rare, plants needs regularly watering to not only keep them alive but to keep flowers, flavouring and colour. It can get pricey fast if you’re using a hose pipe attached to your home water supply. A fantastic way around the problem is to invest in a private water supply, like Nicholls water boreholes. These will allow you to cut costs on water consumption drastically. It also means that your plants won’t have to go without if water restrictions are enforced. Your private water supply will still be going strong!

Setting up a borehole and the initial cost can be very costly and if you live in a rented home or a council house the landlords wont be happy if you go and dig up their land. Waterbutts are cheap and cheerful, and again you can often pick up second hand ones for pennies or even free! Kits to attach them to your drain pipe from the roof guttering only costs a couple of quid and after a heavy rainfall your water butt will be full. We have 3 waterbutts in our garden and they save enough rain to keep our mini-farm well watered in dry spells. Waterbutts can be attached to drain pipes, shed and garage roofs and even your greenhouse.

Upcycle

flowers in toilet

Of course, it’s not all about the plants. An excellent garden will also include stunning plant pots and garden ornaments. These don’t come cheap, either. In fact, buying the real deal could set you back a fair bit. That’s why it’s worth upcycling to keep your garden gorgeous. Again, this could offer a lot of fun for your children. You could get them planting flowers into old shoes, wheelbarrows, and even a bathtub if you wanted. Not only will these save on costs, but they’ll also become fantastic features for your outside space. We have transformed an old Belfast sink (a skip find!) into a herb garden, and even an 2 old toilets for flowers. I have flowers growing in tyres, logs as flower bed boarders and pallets as a compost heap. All work well, and cost me nothing!

growing flowers in tyres

 

Splashing Good Pond Care

If you have been busy getting your garden ready for summer, you might have started to think about adding a pond. There are so many benefits that come with adding a pond to your garden, including an increase in the amount of wildlife that makes it home in your garden.

However, some people don’t think that maintaining a pond is all that easy, which puts them off the whole idea of adding one in the first place. But looking after a pool isn’t all that hard, especially once you have all of the following splashing good tips for pond care!

According the Royal Horticultural Society, nearly 70% of ponds have been lost from the UK Countryside, meaning that the importance of having a pond in our own gardens (and even allotments!) are now so very important for our British wildlife.

Frogs in my in-laws pond. Photo by Keith Newhouse
Frogs in my in-laws pond. Photo by Keith Newhouse

Remove Dirt And Debris

Sometimes, your pond will start to accumulate a lot of dirt and organic debris in it. This will happen quite a bit over the autumn and winter periods when there are a lot of dead leaves floating down into your pond from nearby trees. One way you can remove all of this rubbish is by trying to fish it out with a small net. But to make it easier and to save your back is to get a handy pond-cleaning tool, like the Oase pondovac to clean excess muck and grime. These vacuum cleaners will suck up all the rubbish from your pond without you getting dirty yourself!

You can save yourself some of the hard work over Autumn and those pesky falling leaves by adding a net over the top of your pond. Build a simple wooden square frame, fix chicken wire or even garden netting to the frame and rest over the pond. It can easily be removed as and when you need to, and can be stored and reused year after year.

 

Don’t Let It Freeze Over Winter

One of the main reasons why ponds suffer so much over winter is because homeowners leave them to freeze over. This isn’t good news for the wildlife and plants that inhabit your pond. The ice on it will trap methane into the water and will prevent any oxygen from getting into it as well. All that extra methane in the water can become toxic to fish and plants. So, if you notice that your pond has frozen, you will need to crack the ice to ensure that air can get in and out. One nice little tip is to put a small inflatable ball into the pond so that ice doesn’t cover the entire pond surface.

Balance Shade Correctly

Part of your pond needs to be in the shade so that animals and fish have somewhere to go

when the sunshine gets too much. For this reason, it’s a good idea to plant some trees near your pond. However, you shouldn’t cover the whole pond in shade, as this will make it difficult for plants and wildlife to flourish. Get the balance of light and shade right, and your pond will become a successful ecosystem!

Photo by Keith Newhouse
Photo by Keith Newhouse

Welcome Wildlife

A pristine pond will struggle to attract wildlife, so make sure you leave nature to do some of it’s own amazing work. Frogs, newts, toads, little bugs (such as pond skaters, water-beetles and pond snails) all breed in garden ponds, and make fascinating viewing for children. Allow natural weeds to grow for these animals to eat and hide under. These plants will also oxygenate the water too, keeping it healthy.