Bargain Blooms and Dirt Cheap Landscaping

In the Spring, at the end of the day, one should smell like dirt.

And I do.

I have been outside as much as I can enjoying this 
gorgeous South Carolina weather (not too hot, not too cold).

I thought you might like to see how a one-income,
no-debt, cheapskate household gets their plants for practically nothing.

Wanna know how?

We get up at 3 A.M., don coal miner's caps and prowl the cul-de-sac,
crouching in the grass and hiding in the shadows.

Then we dig the plants out of the neighbor's yard while they are sleeping.

Ingenius, no?

Well, okay, we don't do that, and you shouldn't either.

What we actually do is wait till plants and their paraphernalia
go on sale or buy stuff at yard sales.

We go to the back of the Lowe's Garden Department
and get out plants off the slightly overcooked or
somehow overlooked palettes.
We even buy plants at yard sales.

Top row: White Geraniums, 1.25 quart, $1.00 each
Middle row: Blue Wave Petunias, 1.25 quart, $1.00 each
Bottom row: Red Geraniums, Pint, $ .60 each

Sometimes, by the time we rescue a plant, 
it is no longer blooming (but will).

I am picky about the colors that go in our yard.

We only take in rejects that bloom yellow, red, white or blue.

How I tell what color it is, is by searching for the dead blooms
usually lying on a leaf or two.
Sometimes the tag will tell you, too,
but sometimes the tag shows the whole variety of colors that this plant comes in,
not the particular color you want.

If I cannot tell what color the flower is, I don't buy it.

Maybe you are not as persnickety picky as I am 
and it you love all the colors.

You'll get done shopping more quickly than I do.

We also buy plants that, even though they are annuals,
will survive our hot SC summers without a lot of attention.

Geraniums and Lobelia, in the basket below,
(Originally $19.99, I paid $5.00)
are good choices.

(In the upper right corner of the picture you can see dead leaves on a Mandevilla Vine that was adopted.
The dead portion was cut off and it thrives, and you'll see it further down in this post).

Impatiens are also good choices that love the shade and heat, and multiply like crazy.
(I paid full price for these-- $1.87 for a 6 pack of annuals).

Other plants in our yard--that can take the heat are Miniature Japanese Holly bushes
I got 8 of these for $2.00 each.

This is one of my favorite blooming vines in our yard, the Jackman Clematis.

Every year, it tells us when Spring is here.
One time price of around $8.00. So far, eight years of blooms.
($1.00 a year!)

Another garden joy is the Nikko Blue Hydrangea.
I got this as a birthday present, so it was free.
Another way to get cheap blooms is ask for plants for presents.

These Indian Hawthorn Shrubs (the middle one looks like a bite is taken out of it)
were $1.00 each a few years ago.
There are 6 altogether, lining the side of our house.
They were 8 feet tall last week, until I pruned them.
When I bought them they had been on life-support.

This hummingbird favorite, Black and Blue Salvia, is stunning and very hard to get rid of, 
so plant it where it has plenty of space.

We bought three small plants ($5.00 each) 3 years ago. 
We cut it back to the ground in the Fall.
Yet it grows to about 4 feet tall by 8 feet in diameter each year.

English Lavender.
Is there a prettier name for a flower?
This perennial smells heavenly, and makes a beautiful ground cover and bouquet.
I dry it and crush it and use it to scent drawers.
Miss S (my college girl) wants to cook/bake with it sometime before this summer is over.
I have it several places in the yard and got the plants for around $1.50 each, as I recall.

Stella D'Oro Day Lily.
Hearty, lively, beautiful.
These reproduce. Divide these to make more plants.

Threadleaf Coreopsis.
Wispy, whimsical and wild.

These were the BIGGEST bargain of all.
Instead of a fence, we spent $185.00 and
bought 24 of these Thuja Green Giant Trees in 2002.
They were two feet tall.
Miss A on the left and Miss S on the right on planting day.

These are now about 20 feet tall!

And of course, the least expensive way to have plants: seeds.
Our organic veggie and herb gardens as of today.

These railing planters (with coconut liners included) were $3.00 on clearance at Wal-Mart last Fall.
I bought 4 of them.

I got a set of 5 of these faux clay pots at a yard sale for $5.00!!
The previously over-baked Mandevilla (minus the dead leaves) 
now lives in one of them.

So, these are just a few ideas from my own yard
on how to save money on making your yard come to life.

It's Spring.
Will you smell like dirt at the end of the day?

How do you save money on flowers and plants?


  1. I do a lot of this kind of thing too.....Or I did.....but I will again plus my daughter works at Loews so I told her any plants or trees on clearance, get them and I will pay you....score!
    Another thing I have done before is if friends or family has big perrenials, I dig some up and plant at home...with their permission of course.....

  2. Your plants are lovely, Leslie. And I adore lavender. Good that you rescue plants that otherwise might not make it. The TLC you give them, no doubt, helps them to flourish. Congratulations! Sincerely, Susan

  3. Wow! I learned a lot from you! Thanks! I know nothing about plants at all. I am also picky about color of plants too. lol!

  4. Wonderful gardening skills you possess! You obviously have a great touch with plants. I always claim I have a 50/50 survival rate with anything I attempt to raise. I do have one or two now large plants I started from a leaf snatched off a mature plant, isn't it wonderful how some plants, all you need is a bit of stem to start another?

  5. Hah, I've taken those coconut husk baskets and stuck faux greenery and roses in them and put them out front, honey. I have greenery all year round, even in the snow. ;-) Our clematis finally produced a flower last night. Hubs ran in to show me. There will be a blog about it on 6/6 I believe. I schedule them way ahead of time, chick. You don't wanna miss some of them for sure. ;-)

  6. Great post!! Plants can be super expensive. When we moved out of our last rental home I took a few cuttings of the multiple hydrangea bushes that they had in the yard and put them in water on my window sill...well I had NO idea (since I don't have a very green thumb) if that would produce any kind of plant that I could actually plant in soil...well it did!!! I took about 5 cuttings and 2 of them already have roots growing! I'm gonna wait till the other ones catch up and then plant them in individual pots and see what happens. Any pointers??

  7. Great post Leslie! I always check the sad little clearance plants. A lot of the the time they are combo pots and maybe one of the combo is dead but the rest are fine. I will also buy some plants, like lirope, that are crowded and then split them when I plant them. I need to get a clematis, I miss mine at my old house! Yours is so pretty.

  8. I buy the forgotten ones, too, like the root bound pots. I just cut the bottoms off so they are not root bound anymore and they do fine. I also will take a plant and find a spot to halve it, so a lot of times I get two plants for the price of one.

    I also like to try and root some plants ~ hydrangeas root pretty well and I replaced our weeping willow tree A{that we lost in a hurricane} with a branch from that same tree that I rooted in a garbage can full of water!

  9. What a wonderful post and beautiful pictures. I really enjoyed my visit here today.
    I'm in the back at Lowes also. There is something a little bit satisfying about bringing a plant "back to life". I have several plumeria that were all started from cuttings from my SIL. I buy baby hibiscus for $3.95 -- had to buy new ones this year because we lost some in the "Big Florida Freeze" this year. I've tried to root some but it takes forever.
    BTW--love the flowered gardening tools.

  10. I love this, and think it's so inspirational!! Since I have such a brown thumb, we've never had a beautifully COLORFUL lawn like yours because I'm too cheap to plant what I'm afraid will die. Your post is a motivator and a challenge!

    The one thing that I do have/do in the way of frugal landscape is to transplant plants from my mom. The original reason was sentimentality, but as we became more frugal, it was an added bonus.

    I like to be able to point to flowers and tell the journey that they took to get to my house. My favorites are some lilies that traveled from my grandmother's house to my mom's house, to our first house and finally to this one. We put it in our selling contract that we get to transplant some of our traveling perennials.

    I guess they feel the love because they all always survive and thrive.

    Anyway, that's all I've got...
    YOUR POST is fabulous.

    And so are your flowers!

  11. I also like to adopt the plants that have been left behind or suffered misfortune at the hands of unknowing garden center workers. Also too? Friendship garden. My family & friends share starts when anything needs divided and thinned. The garden at my last house was mostly a friendship garden. And watch for garden clubs or municipal giveaways. There is a large planting bed in a park here, they change out the plants each season, and giveaway what they pull out. The best deal is when they give away the spring bulbs after they have bloomed. Oh, and your garden/plants look great, you have quite a green thumb. Happy Gardening

  12. Gorgeous flowers you chose...and you must have a really good green thumb!~ I usually only pick petunias for my flower baskets and pots....they are hardy and I have good luck with them. The rest just comes up year after year so far. I am in SC too...about two hours from you...we are on the Charlotte boarder.....thanks for sharing your tips.

  13. I'm guilty of paying too much for plants. :( My favorite thrifty thing is sharing/trading plants with others. I have yellow day lilies around my mailbox from a trade with a neighbor. And years ago I won lots of perennials at a church auction - and made a new dear friend in the process.

  14. absolutely gorgeous! i can't til i can have a garden of my own. someday...
    my landlord is crazy and won't let us plant anything. i've been thinking of doing a few potted plants soon.

  15. Leslie,

    The more I read, the more I adore your sweet blog.

    I do indeed smell like dirt at the end of the day! It went from cold, windy, wet weather to 91 in NJ this week. I am in the garden of the garden state which means land is so fertile if you don't tend to things it will soon turn into a jungle!

    Thank you for sharing your thrifty plant finds. I do exactly the same thing. I save the plants from certain death and bring them home to nurse them back to health. They repay me many blooms over!

    Your gardens are a true reflection of the gardener that tends to them -- simply beautiful.

    Your Friend,

  16. New follower from New Friend Friday- please follow me back at a

    Happy Friday!!

  17. pretty! I loved my tour around your garden. I'm not very good with plants. But I'm trying. Dh does all the planting, though. Maybe one day, I'll get my hands in the dirt. Or maybe not ;)

    Thanks for all your kind words today my friend. You are such a sweetie! And I love you very much my friend!

  18. Your posies are so pretty! And what deals! I have gotten over half of our plants as passalongs or digging them up from vacant lots(with permission from the owner of course)!

  19. Loved this post and a lot of the comments too...what a great following you have and very smart and gifted people!!

  20. I love this post and I think i will check out summer clearance at my local Lowes today :) As I was reading, I noticed the word Chesapeake! We used to live in Chesapeake..actually Great Bridge, one of favorite places I have lived. I miss living there and all of the conveniences of that area. We moved to MI 12 years ago and we have to drive 45 min, to get to a good mall!!


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