How to Start A Garden on a Budget

When our family first moved into our new house, we had 2 trees in the yard and no other plants. Our living expenses were tight, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to start my flower garden on a nonexistent budget. Since it was spring, one of the best ways to start the garden was to see if any neighbors had any perennials that they were dividing.

 As I was walking around the block checking out the neighborhood and what types of plants were growing, I stopped to admire a neighbor’s flower garden. There was someone working on the plants. I started a conversation on how much I loved her flowers. I mentioned I was new in the neighborhood. Without even saying anything the gardener asked if I was interested in taking some of her perennials since she was dividing them, and they had just finished flowering.

My answer to the neighbor who offered me her extra perennials was a definite yes. I went home my for  kids wagon so I dragged it over and collected about 20 plants that I could use in my new garden.

I purchased some soil and started my spring garden. Within the week my next-door neighbor was out in her garden and asked if I wanted some plants that she was dividing up. I was able to start 2 new gardens that spring for only the cost of my soil.

In the spring most gardeners will divide some of their perennial plants and look for other gardeners that want plants. Most gardeners do not like to throw out their plants when they divide them.

So you ask “What is a perennial?” A perennial is a flower that comes back every year in the spring. It becomes dormant during the winter. During the spring the perennial usually comes in bigger than the previous year.  Every 2-3 years these plants need to be divided which creates additional plants that can be given away and planted in new or existing gardens.

Check for gardening groups in the neighborhood or local gardeners that are dividing their perennials in early spring or fall for plants. This is a great way to get plants that are free to put in your garden. Also check Kijiji because you could find free plant cuttings as well that people are giving away. I personally will leave pots with my plants that were divided in the front yard with a free sign.

Spring and Perennials

If you have your own plants and need to divide up your perennials, here is some guidance on how to do this.

Some common types of root systems that perennials have are:

1.Clumping or Crown system– big clump for the root system -eg Asters, Aosta, Day Lilies, Astilbees

2.Spreading system– smaller individual plant root systems that are easily divided. eg Flox,

3.Rhizomes or woody stems. – one main stem system and then have an offshoot (baby). Cut the old root to the new root.  Lavender, Rosemary and Thyme.

Day Lilies, Asters, Symphyotricum, Irises, Bergenia, Geraniums, Hellebores, Hostas, Nepeta(catnip)

When you dig up the plant to divide, you want to make sure that the soil is moist. Dig the plant out, and then cut the roots using a sharp spade or a cutting knife. Pull the roots apart and separate.

Throw some fertilizer and good compost in the hole before you plant the new separated area.  Make sure that you plant the separated area right away and then water.

Your plants are now ready to grow big and healthy.

Whether you are starting a new flower garden or adding to an existing one, a great way to save money is to find perennial plants from friends, neighbors, or gardening groups. Have a fun spring and don’t be afraid to experiment with new plants.

Bleeding Hearts (One of my favorite perennials from my neighbor)

Let us know what plants you find from your friends and neighbors and make sure you post a picture.


Here are some great links to information on separating root systems.

Great links for types and available perennials

Supplier for Bulbs or plants if you wish to plant yourself:

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