Garden MakeOver On a Budget

I have the garden bug bad right now. It's driving me nuts to not be able to dig into the garden work yet, but we still have snow on the ground here in Michigan! I've been plotting and planning my garden area for a couple months already. This year we are going to try to make some huge changes to our 100 x 40 foot garden that is located in our front yard.

When we bought our house 2 years ago the large garden was already there. Unfortunately do to the health of the previous owner it sat unattended for two years. The blackberries had taken over the asparagus patch, the raspberries and strawberries were dead, and the weeds had taken over the rest of the garden. It was an enormous mess and a large project.

Since we moved in we have not had the time to focus on the garden since the house was a fixer upper. We now have most of the large projects done and are going to focus on redoing the garden area this year. Here is the dream and how we are going to try to keep it within our budget.

My dream plans include:

  • A cute fence around the garden
  • Deer proof flower/ herb border on the outside of the fence
  • Raised beds w/ mulched walking paths
  • Adding 4 chickens
  • A half shed/ half chicken coop
  • Chicken pen for the new hens
  • A chicken moat around the garden just inside the cute fence

I know that this sounds like a big expensive dream. The Mr. sure would agree with you on that one too! I've taken my ideas to paper and have a plan drawn up. I've also collected lots of info and photos to go along with my dream. We don't have a lot of money to put towards the projects since we just replaced our boiler this past week and our roof needs to be replaced in June.

Here is how we are going to do it on a very tight budget.
  • The lumber for the raised beds we are trying to get off of craigs list. So far we have found red cedar lumber 2x6's that are a third of the store price. We need a total of 408 running feet of lumber so we might have to buy it from a couple sources. If we wanted to get even cheaper but more labor intense we could get free stone and/or bricks to make the raised beds.
  • Hardware wire is needed to line the bottoms of the raised beds. This is one of the main reasons for making them since it will keep the moles out of my garden. So far I'm not finding a cheap way to do this and will just have to save up the funds.
  • The raised beds will be filled with compost from my compost piles along with free aged manure from a local farm. We will also be mixing in shredded leaves from this past fall. We will need to buy or find more compost and peat moss to add to the over 12 cubic feet of volume we need to fill all the beds.
  • We are looking into free sources for tree mulch. In our last town we could get it for free (along w/ compost) from the local recycling center. I'm in the process of to find a free source of mulch locally but it might prove to be harder in a small town.
  • Plants for our deer proof flower and herb border will come from a couple sources. Some of them will be started from seed that I bought at the end of season really cheap. Others will be from our local freecycle group. For plants that I'm still missing I will go to the local gardener's club annual sale were they sell plants the members grow super cheap. I'm hoping to keep this cost close to zero since money will have to be spent on other items.
  • We are not sure exactly how we will get the shed for the tool storage and chickens. Right now we are looking for a used one that we can fix up. This might take some time but we have more time then money at the moment. Our other option is to find the material free or cheap and build it ourselves.
  • I have a "dream" fence in my mind, but to stay in budget I will remain flexible on the style of fence. I'm also looking for a used fence that might work for this project. It would have to be something that I could still buy more of since I doubt that I will find the nearly 300 ft of fence I need from one source.
For us the biggest key to a successful garden remodel is patience and flexibility. We can not get in a rush or be closed minded about our options. It might be another year before we have all the material needed to complete the large project since our garden IS larger then most people's whole yard. With a written plan we know exactly how much of the different materials we need allowing us to accurately budget.

Are you planning a large garden or landscape renovation this year? How are you keeping the project low cost?

For more great information on no or low cost tips or to see other posts in the Lawn n' Garden section follow the links above.


Vinelady said...

For low cost compost contact local horse barns. Around here it goes for nothing to about $10 for a truck load.

Ms. May said...

My husband and I have dreamed of a garden for so long now... and we are in the same boat as you, tons of space to do it in, but low on funds to do it with. We've been crunching the numbers each season to see if maybe this year will be the year. Best of luck to you, sounds like you have a sound plan for a fabulous garden.

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