My Methods for Busy and Frugal Gardening

I am fortunate enough to have a pretty nice garden. My yard isn’t big, but when we bought the property 14 years ago, it was owned by a woman who loved gardening. There were beds all over the yard, mostly by the fence line and around the house. She even invited me over one day before she moved out to show me what all of her plants were. She obviously cared a great deal about the garden living on long after she left.Illinois gardening

As the years have gone on, we’ve improved the yard and landscaping significantly. Her haphazard cottage style way of gardening has been improved to a more structured and spacious method. As our yard improved over the years, people have asked me about my techniques or skills I have. I tell them, “To be honest, when I was deciding on what plants to put in my garden, I took a look at parking lots.”

Yes, parking lots.

Illinois gardeningLandscaping around parking lots has to have the easiest plants to care for and the hardiest. No one waters them, weeds creep up, and people trample all over them. So, from there, I got my inspiration for what to plant.

When we first overhauled most of the front yard, I didn’t have hours to delicately care for my garden.  I had two young kids to take care of and gardening was the furthest thing from my mind.  I ended up getting rid of many of the invasive species or ground covers that wouldn’t stop creeping into my lawn. Other perennials were moved, as they weren’t planted in the correct location for maximum growth, and others (the ones I didn’t like) I simply got rid of.Illinois gardening

Even now, as I continuously try to make my beds better, I have to take into account that landscaping isn’t something we necessarily budget for. Sure, I can afford a few plants, but as established plants are expensive, I can’t afford to throw money away to find my inner Martha Stewart. Instead, I’ve read books and taught myself through trial and error about gardening. For example, instead of buying more hostas, I dug up the big ones I had and cut them into halves or thirds and transplanted them as new plants. I also tried growing perennials and annuals from seed to save some money. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  When you pay for plants, you’re paying for time. Sometimes you have to skip buying the beautiful blooming shrub to opt for the same plant, just a much younger version.

Illinois gardeningSo, overall I’m pretty happy with my beds. Different beds bloom at different times of the summer, so I can gauge how much summer is left by what is blooming. Is it my ideal garden? No. However, when you’re gardening on a budget, you make do with what you have and plant flowers and bushes that will do well in your environment, even if they’re not your favorite. I’d love to change some things around and add more color, but by doing a little bit each year, eventually it’ll be just the way I want it.

Happy Travels!


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