Time for a money-wasting confession: I spend a fortune on the grass in my garden. I must have wasted at least a couple of hundred pounds over the last two years trying to get a green luxuriant growth instead of the moss-addled, patchy scrub-land that surrounds my house.
Different companies have sprayed, hacked at, tutted over and fertilised my lawn, each charging me at least £25 and up to £65. Despite this, it still looks like the top of Wayne Rooney’s head.
But no more. This summer I am going to make my garden look good without paying anyone a penny. In fact, I am going to use my garden to save some money.
With a promised heat wave on the hazy horizon and half-term around the corner, here’s how we can all save money on and in our gardens.
Plant salad leaves
I don’t have the time or patience to carefully nurse a veg patch and proudly serve guests potatoes and carrots I have grown myself. I have a lot of admiration for anyone who does.
But I don’t believe anyone will save much money by growing their own potatoes; root vegetables are some of the cheapest things we put in our trolleys.
Instead, I’m going to use my limited time and space to grow the most expensive fresh food we buy: Salad leaves. Not only do salad bags cost at least £1 each, they are among the most wasted food in the country, with consumers chucking out over a third of the salad they buy.
But by planting a few different leafy plants, I can simply trim off the leaves I need as I need them. I’ll save money while reducing my waste and carbon footprint.
And if you don’t have a garden then at least you don’t need much space to benefit; salad plants can be grown in containers on window sills or balconies.
Don’t buy flowers
I am very guilty of this one; no wonder my garden is a money pit. Because I don’t plan ahead, I tend to rush out as soon as the sun comes out, and buy ready-grown flowers already in their pots. This costs literally 10x the cost of seeds and a lot more than seedlings.
The longer the grower has spent tending the plants, the pricier they will be. And it’s much harder to transport plants with flowers on, so that cost gets added too.
For many summer flowers it’s now too late to plant seeds for this year. However, you can plant seeds now that will blossom next year. I’m doing that and also buying some cheap seedlings so I get a bit of colour this year.
If you have greener fingers than me, you could try ‘rescuing’ the half-dead plants in the local garden centre’s bargain bin.
Use your butt
In the unlikely event that we do have a barbeque summer this year, the threat of hosepipe bans could mean your beloved garden becomes a dustbowl. But even if there are no bans, households with water meters will pay for greener gardens with higher bills.
So installing a water butt and collecting rainfall to use on the ground makes good financial and environmental sense.
I live in the north, so a hosepipe ban seems unlikely. However, I’m still going to catch and store rainwater to feed my thirsty garden.
Make it child-safe
I save a fortune when the sun is out. Instead of carting the kids off to a pricey soft-play centre or giving in to their demands for new games to get them through the wet and cold weather, I can simply turf them out into the garden.
My two can spend hours simply pottering about while I do jobs, freeing up time and money. It just took me a couple of hours to make the garden child safe, by checking the fences for sticking-out nails, fencing off a drop to the side of the house and making space for their sandpit in the shady area.
Cut the cost of lawn care
As I have already moaned; I am working my way through every lawn care company in our town and none of them have managed to resurrect my grass. So I have decided that I may as well do it myself.
It turns out that it’s not that complicated. Far from being a mystical alchemy, it’s just about feeding it, seeding it and occasionally raking it, all in the right seasons.
There’s an excellent guide on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.
I currently pay about £25 a quarter plus £65 twice a year for scarification. By following the RHS’s advice I think I could save myself at least £180, taking into account the cost of seed and fertiliser.
How do you save money with your garden? What are your tips for cutting down the price of gardening equipment or services? Share your experiences with other readers using the comments below.