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Gardening, as a hobby, can be expensive if you're not careful. You start off with a few planters and a rose bush, next thing you know you've got scalloped stone edging, custom trellises, and the finest organic tomato plants money can buy.

But there is another way: Keep your backyard and your wallet full of greenery with these cheap gardening tips.

The key to keeping gardening costs in check means taking a resourceful approach and getting your hands dirty. While your local garden center might carry hundreds of specialty plants, pots, and assorted green-thumb tools, most are unnecessary for a successful garden, particularly when growing vegetables.

Check the dollar store.

We've already showcased our deep love for the dollar store in previous posts, but they are a cheap gardening tip not to be overlooked. Dollar Tree and other dollar-store chains often carry a limited selection of seeds, gloves, pots, and other supplies in season. While home improvement stores and garden centers sell seed packets at prices ranging from $1.19 to $1.89 a piece, dollar store selections typically run two for $1. Starting plants from seeds is much cheaper than buying plants and seedlings from a garden center or nursery.

Use what you've already got.

If you want to grow your own vegetables, try starting plants from seeds gathered from vegetables you've purchased for consumption, like peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, cantaloupe, etc. Many herbs, like basil, mint, and rosemary, can be started from cuttings. Just take full-length sprigs and place them in water in the sun and wait for roots to sprout. Even old vegetables that are no longer fit for eating, like potatoes, onions, and garlic, can be salvaged and planted. Once roots or green shoots start growing from the vegetable, dig a spot for them outside and make sure to keep them well watered.

Be green.

Sometimes having a green thumb also means thinking green--as in being environmentally conscious. Cheap gardening tips that will leave the Earth grateful call for growing some of your own food and engaging in some recycling. Use wooden take-out chopsticks for staking small seedlings when you transplant them outside. Laminate the covers of seed packets with clear tape and attach them to the end of a chopstick to mark off and identify rows of plants in the ground. Old coffee cans, plastic cups, or cardboard egg containers can be used as tiny planters to get seeds started.

Be bold.

Nurseries and garden centers occasionally have plants that have dried out or lost their blooms; ask nicely and you may score a haul at a discounted rate. If you live in an area where there are lots of well-landscaped parks, keep an eye out for the day city workers change over the plantings. Much of the old growth is pulled out and sent off for composting, so rely on the same cheap gardening tip used with the nurseries: ask one of the workers if you can take a few plants for your own garden. And finally, check online sites where you're sure to find sales on bulbs that are past season.

Your garden should be an object of enjoyment, not a drain on your wallet. With these and other cheap gardening tips, you might find that the biggest fruits of your labor are the beautiful and tasty returns on your small investment.

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