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‘I’m a money saving expert – here's how to save cash on your next garden centre trip'

Buying plants, compost and gardening equipment can all add up, and the annual spring trip to your local garden centre can cost you a small fortune.

Yet with a little planning, it is possible to make many of the items you need yourself or buy them more cheaply elsewhere, said Michael Foote, editor-in-chief at money saving website QuoteGoat.com.

“By embracing a thrifty mindset and adopting practical strategies, you can significantly reduce costs while still enjoying a thriving and beautiful garden.”

Instead of loading up the boot with bags of costly compost, Foote suggested making your own. “Layer ‘green’ materials like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and freshly cut grass with ‘brown’ materials such as dry leaves, straw, shredded newspaper and cardboard. That way you can produce nutrient-rich compost in three to six months.”

You can also save on those little garden centre extras that add up, like pots, planters and seed trays.

Foote suggests collecting bare twigs to use as plant supports and repurposing kitchen cartons and containers as planters instead.

Instead of splurging on starter plants, opt for seeds, Foote said. “They are more affordable and also give you a wider selection of plant varieties.”

Go for perennials rather than annuals. “A perennial plant lives for more than two years and will return year after year, reducing the need for replanting.”

Perennials have another advantage. “Once established, they require less maintenance and water, making them a cost-effective choice.”

Don’t just buy anything that takes your fancy down the garden centre, but read the labels carefully to make certain it will thrive in your garden. “Make sure you place sun-loving plants and shade-tolerant varieties where they will be happiest.”

It also pays to understand your garden’s soil type, such as whether it is chalky or clay-like. “Matching your plants to your garden’s conditions will help them flourish and save disappointment and money replacing them later.”

Instead of buying chemical pesticides, try homemade methods. “You can make DIY insecticidal sprays using household ingredients like garlic and chilli peppers,” Foote said.

Keep your eyes peeled for secondhand gardening equipment in charity shops and online using platforms like Facebook Marketplace, or websites like Freecycle, where people give away unwanted items, which may include gardening equipment. “You can often find quality items at a fraction of the cost of new ones.”

Garden tool maintenance pays, Foote added. “Regular cleaning, sharpening, and oiling will extend the life of your tools, reducing the need for frequent replacements.”

Garden centres are not always the cheapest to place to buy tools, the big supermarkets may offer cheaper equipment, and many sell bargain-priced plants, too.

Discount chain Aldi is launching its Garden Improvement range in stores from Sunday April 7, selling essentials like watering cans, planters, lawn seed and expandable hoses at low prices while stocks last. It will launch further products from April 25.

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If buying gardening equipment online, search for discount codes before making a purchase, Foote added. “Many retailers offer exclusive discounts to new customers, newsletter subscribers, or through social media promotions.”

If you do use a garden centre, check to see if it offers loyalty cards to earn rewards points, discounts, and exclusive offers.

Keep an eye out for bargains throughout the summer, but especially as the gardening season draws to a close in the autumn.

Take advantage of end-of-season sales to purchase gardening supplies, tools, and equipment at discounted prices, Foote said. “You might find significant markdowns on items like planters, seeds, and gardening gloves as retailers look to clear out this year’s inventory.”


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