Lifestyle & Culture

DIY Gardening on a Budget

Get your DIY gardening gloves on and read Leanne Elliott’s tips on how to plant (on the cheap) like a DIY pro.

It is no secret, I love plants. For me, gardening is a form of meditation, and a way to reground myself when I am feeling stressed out, or, just need some quiet time in the sun. Even though I am a renter, I have loads of portable plants (probably too many) and I have found it doesn’t matter how small or large a space you have, or how permanent that space is, making a little room for at least one plant can be both beneficial and rewarding.

This guide has information on plants suitable for planting at this time of year, and some tips on how to DIY on the cheap.

Plant Selection

Growing plants from seed is rewarding, but, unlike established seedlings, it does require more time and effort. There is a range of plants you can grow in the lead up to Spring.

Vegetables: potato, peas, beans, beetroot, carrots, broccoli, garlic, cabbage, spinach, spring onion, leek, lettuce (and other leafy greens), sweet corn, melon, tomato, and zucchini.

Herbs: basil, thyme, chives, coriander, sage, oregano, and parsley.

Flowers: carnations, chrysanthemums, dahlias, daisies, foxglove, pansy, snapdragon, jasmine.


Containers are your friend when you are DIY gardening, especially when you have limited space. Teapots, cooking pots, and decorated plastic containers can make great ornamental pieces. For larger gardens, you can buy cheap buckets for around a dollar, or laundry buckets for under five dollars.

But, if you buy a container which does not allow for drainage remember to put a hole in it, or just make sure it does not fill up when it rains.

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A small shovel or large spoon, depending on the size of your planter, some dirt, mulch and fertilizer. Or, if you are on a really tight budget, buy the cheap dirt and save up your veggie scraps and/or lawn cuttings before you plant. Be sure to cut the scraps (no meat) into small pieces, then mix it with the dirt when you are ready to plant; this gives the cheap soil a bit of a nutrient pick me up. For very poor soil, you can also add a little coffee and sugar dissolved in water to the mix (but be careful not to overdo it).

If you are using a larger pot or smaller garden bed, lawn cuttings or even a few cheap bags of guinea pig or rabbit hay from a pet shop can be used as mulch. But, if you are going to buy your mulch from a nursery or garden warehouse I recommend buying a decent sugarcane mulch. Also, for plants which like a bit of drainage, such as orchids and cacti, the small rock granules used in fish tanks are great for making the soil more grainy, just be sure you rinse them thoroughly before adding them to the soil.

Gardening For All Budgets

Freebies: Next time you go on a walk, or visit someone, keep an eye out for plants which can be easily propagated (see list). Roses, succulents, frangipani trees, mint, garlic and a range of other plants can be grown from seed cuttings. If you want to learn more about propagating plants visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens website.

On the cheap: If you are on a tight budget you can usually find heavily discounted (even half-dead) plants in nurseries or places like Bunnings Warehouse or Woolworths. True, they are not the prettiest plants in the shop, but they are cheap, and, with a little TLC usually turn into strong, healthy plants. Plus, you also get the reward of knowing you saved a plant from ending up in the bin. To perk your sickly plant up, simply get a container which your plant’s container fits into, dissolve a little sugar (1 teaspoon per litre) in some water in the empty container, then put your sick plant into the water to soak for a few days.

Cash to spare: Most local weekend markets will have a plant stall. The ones at Adamstown Markets are super healthy, and usually have a good selection of seasonal plants (my Dad has been a regular customer there for years). Or you can always find a good selection of seasonal plants in your local nursery or home warehouse.

Plant Care

Like people, all plants are different. If your plants do not come with care instructions simply look up care tips online. However, most plants will thrive with some indirect sunlight, some water, and, yes… some TLC. There are many benefits to indoor plants, but a tip, if you are planning on having an outdoor garden, you may have to add some extra shading in summer, as the UV rays and temps can badly damage your plants.

Feature Image: Madelyn Gardiner, Yak Media Designer
Other Images: Leanne Elliott, Yak Media Writer

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