Digging into Costs: Is Gardening an Expensive Hobby? (Cost-Saving Tips)

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

With all the time I spend in the garden, people often wonder if it is an expensive hobby. If you are considering gardening as a hobby, you might be wondering the same thing. Is this a hobby that is going to become too expensive for you to afford, or is it something that you can afford to enjoy for many years without traumatizing your budget too much?

Gardening is not necessarily an expensive hobby, but it can be. To keep gardening costs low, you need to be strategic and innovative with your gardening techniques. While getting started may cost some money initially, having a fruit and vegetable bearing garden can save a lot of money in the long run.

Gardening is more than just a hobby for me – it is a way of life – but it certainly started out as a hobby. When family, friends, and colleagues see what I am doing with my garden, they are always intrigued. My garden is thriving, and as a result, I very rarely spend money on fresh produce at the grocery store. One of the very reasons why I started gardening for myself was for the potential cost-saving.

If you are considering gardening as a hobby (or to be self-sufficient), let’s take a closer look at the potential costs involved and how you can save.

What Costs are Involved in Gardening?

In my opinion, gardening does not cost very much once you have got started. It is starting out that will cost you the most. When you first get into gardening, you will have to ensure that you have everything you need. There are bits and pieces required to make gardening tasks easy for you and to ensure that you can work productively. 

Below is a list of the first few things I had to get when I started gardening as a hobby. I didn’t get all of these things at once. I took my time, and in many situations, I had to “make do”. 

  • Gardening gloves
  • Hand spade and fork
  • Shovel/spade (large)
  • Gardening boots/shoes
  • Hat
  • Hosepipe and watering can
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Pruning shears
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Long-handled pruners (loppers)
  • Lawnmower 

A kneeling pad and sprinkler are nice to have but are not essential items. 

You may be concerned that these items are going to cost you a lot of money and they really can, especially if you plan to head over to Amazon and start shopping for brand new pieces. Below are a few ways that you can try to cut back on the costs of your gardening tools/equipment.

  • Buy items when they are on special.
  • Ask family and friends if they have any of these items to share or pass on.
  • Visit charity shops and second-hand stores to find some of these items.
  • Search online classified adverts for people selling pre-owned gardening equipment and tools. 
  • Look around for garage or yard sales in your area. You never know what you might find and lots of people get rid of their old gardening tools and equipment at a yard sale. 

Other expenses to consider:

There are various other expenses for you to consider when gardening and these usually pertain to maintenance and upkeep of the garden space. Some of these possible expenses include:

  • Irrigation
  • Plant feeding (fertilizer, compost, etc.)
  • Insect/pest control
  • Aesthetics (décor such as birdbaths, feeders, benches, etc.)
  • Damage (hail, storms, etc.)

What about the Plants? What do They Cost?

The next expense that you need to think about is the plants that you wish to grow in your garden. Most people pay a visit to their local nursery or grower to buy saplings and seedlings, which they then transfer into their garden. This wasn’t my route at all, as I really wanted to be involved in absolutely every stage of my plant’s lives. I also found that some nurseries (if you don’t shop wisely) are quite expensive.  

How did I get my first batch of plants? I harvested the seeds myself. In fact, this was and still is one of my favorite things to do. It’s also very easy. Simply cut open your favorite fruits and vegetables and scoop the seeds out. Dry the seeds in a dry spot for a few days. They should then be ready to plant. 

At the time, I did a lot of YouTube research on how to nurture these seeds into thriving fruit-bearing plants. When I planted my harvested seeds, I did not go out and buy expensive planters or seedling trays. Instead, I used old yogurt containers, bottles, tins, and glass jars to get everything started. This is great for your garden because once you transfer your plants into the soil, you can reuse the containers.

I also picked vegetables and herbs that I personally consider over-priced or expensive at the grocery store. This immediately relieved my budget when my plants started producing yields. The amount that I spend at the local grocery store has reduced considerably as a result.

Of course, if this is not for you, you can opt to buy seeds from the nursery, grocery store, or online supplier. All of these places will provide you with instructions on how to care for your seeds and growing plants. 

Tips for Saving on the Cost of Gardening

Gardening is not something that you do once. It’s something that requires consistent effort. Unfortunately, everything in life costs money, but there are things that you can do to cut back on the costs of your newly formed hobby. Below are a few tips on how to save on gardening costs:

  • Instead of watering your garden with regular tap water, opt to collect rainwater in a storage tank. This will eliminate the cost of paying for drinking water to use in the garden and will ensure that your garden itself becomes more self-sufficient. 
  • Install drip irrigation to ensure that water is precisely directed to the correct areas and none is wasted. A large amount of water can be wasted by using a sprinkler or hand watering with a hosepipe. You do not need to invest in an expensive irrigation system. There are many articles and YouTube videos that provide instructions on how to make your own with cheap pipes and connections.
  • Avoid paying for a sprinkler if you want to make use of one. Rather make your own sprinkler by piercing holes into a soda bottle and attaching it to your hose attachments. 
  • Avoid expensive and harsh chemicals for pest and insect control. Simply create your own by mixing Epsom salt and water and spraying on the affected areas. If you search for home-made insect repellant on Google, you will find several recipes that you can try. 
  • Another water saving tip is to ensure that your garden is always free of weeds. Weeds compete with the other plants in the garden for water, which can lead to wasting money on water loss. 
  • When you cut the lawn, leave the grass clippings on the lawn surface instead of raking them up. Grass clippings break down quickly and add organic matter back into the lawn. This will save you on the cost of fertilizing your lawn.
  • Pick native plants for your garden as they tend to look after themselves. Alien plants will need more care, which costs more.
  • Pick plants that are considered high yielding. This means that you will get far more bang for your buck when your plants start to flower. You can also scoop far more seeds from the fruits and vegetables, which you can grow in the months to follow. Some great high-yield plants include lettuce, cucumber, pepper, beans, any herbs, tomato, and squash. 

Make Money from Your Gardening Hobby

When I first started gardening as a hobby, I did not really think further than tending a few plants. As I got better at it, I began to realize just how much fun it is and how easy it is, too. Before I knew it, I had a flourishing herb and vegetable garden. I expanded my garden size and kept working hard at it.

Now, I sell small packages of vegetables to my neighbors, colleagues, and friends. It is cheaper than buying them at the store, and they have the peace of mind that they are eating fresh, organic veggies and herbs. It is a win all around! Of course, I am not going into competition with any grocery store or making a killing, but it is great extra money. 

Put Your Green Fingers to Work

When it comes to the cost of gardening, it really all comes down to how you choose to go about it. If your mind is set on buying everything you need instead of being innovative, it could end up being expensive. If you are clever about how you garden, you can save on costs as well as make a little bit of extra cash. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.