When Hastoe resident, Angela Holland, moved into her home in December 2017, the garden was looking sparse with just a thin covering of stones. Getting a professional gardener to redesign the space wasn't a luxury that she could afford, so Angela decided to use DIY to transform her garden on a budget. It took a couple of years to finish her project after researching tips in magazines, garden centres and on the internet. Here, she shares what she has learnt to help others do the same, why it can save you money by planning ahead in winter, and how plants make great Christmas presents!
Angela started simply, with a herb garden made out of hanging pots on her fence. She says, "Herbs look lovely, are cheap to buy, easy to look after and can be used in your cooking to save money on the weekly food shop. Mint and sage cost me just £1.29 from the supermarket and they help deter pests too." In the winter season you can easily grow these indoors and then move them outside in spring. Angela also recommends giving hardy herbs, such as mint and parsley, as Christmas gifts. Even if someone doesn't have a garden, they can be grown on a window sill and will help them save money. She later changed her garden to an evergreen theme as these plants are easy to look after and suit lots of soil types.
After her front garden was complete, she started to give advice and share plants with her Hastoe neighbours. Angela realised that her vision for the garden could be created at a much lower price by working together. Instead of buying one plant, she would buy multiple in an offer, e.g. 3 for 2 or buy 1 get 1 free. The spare plants could then be shared with her neighbours, who would offer her the same in return. She says: "We started going to the garden centre and putting our money together to buy the special offers. You can save points on a garden centre card too." By visiting the garden centre in winter, you can find your bargains before the planting season in spring.
Angela's top tips for buying plants:
Tip 1: Don't ignore the sale section where plants don't look their best. Buy them at their reduced rate then soak their roots in water overnight; they'll perk right up! Alternatively, buy plants out of season in winter when they're cheaper and keep them warm. When they come in to season the next year, they'll look great. She says: "I bought a palm tree in the sale for £7.99, it's usually £20. It’s grown massively and now it's the part of the garden that I'm proudest of."
Tip 2: Visit a garden centre at the beginning of a season. Once you've found some plants which fit your garden's theme and positioning, search for the same plants online for a cheaper price. High Street shops like Poundland and B&M also sell plants at a low cost. Other good places to source bargain plants are market stalls, Facebook marketplace (Angela bought 10 plants for £5) and car boot sales.
Tip 3: Getting your neighbours, family or friends involved in gardening helps you to make the most of bulk buy offers. For example, this multi-pack of herb plug plants could be shared between two people, taking the cost down to £4 instead of £8.
Tip 4: Consider the positioning of your garden because you might not get sun in certain spots. Do your research to find out more about the conditions that your plants like before you purchase them. You can always move your plants or re-pot them whilst you find the right space.
Tip 5: Don't be afraid to ask! Angela asked the Parish Council for a tree and she received four Silver Birch trees.
You don't have to break the bank on tools and equipment either. Be patient and start thinking about buying your tools now to be prepared for spring. Take a look in your local charity shops for a little spade, fork and gardening gloves. If you haven't got a hose then you'll also need a watering can. You could also buy a bucket for soaking the roots of the plants bought on sale. If you have the space for a water butt then this can be a good long-term investment to save on water bills.
Look out for compost offers during winter, e.g. 3 bags for £12. If your garden doesn't have good quality soil then you could use grow bags (around £10). Tomato plants are a quick and easy choice to grow in bags with a bit of water and sunlight.
Don't be afraid to ask. After writing a note to an office where she spotted some discarded furniture outside, Angela was able to pick up a wrought iron and marble table and some chairs for free. Spray paint was all she needed to make it look like new. The table used to have a fire pit in the middle, but Angela decided it wasn't safe for her grandchildren. She planted some herbs and autumn pansies in the centre, with some wood and grass for decoration. She used some free stones sourced from Facebook Marketplace as a base for the dining area.
Angela's next garden project is to replace her outside lights with some solar lighting to save on her electricity bill. Over the winter months she will be looking out for the equipment needed in car boot sales and on Facebook Marketplace. She has also contacted her local Parish Council to see how she can help with their outdoor spaces.