7 Ways to Save on Your Outdoor Space This Spring

Everyone loves to enjoy the outdoors when the weather gets warmer. But all those new flowers, not to mention a lush lawn and patio furniture, can cost a lot! We came up with a few ways to save this year as you create a gorgeous outdoor space to enjoy.

Before you head out with your excellent intentions and your wallet, read these tips to see how you can stick to a budget when you're gardening, and make your yard, porch, and patio fun places to relax and entertain.

1. Follow the wise looking older gardeners to the sale rack at Lowe's.

Last year, I went to Lowe's for my usual assortment of Plants I Planned to Stick in the Ground and Watch Die. A group of wise looking people were huddled around several standing racks of plants. Those plants looked sad: They had browning leaves, missing flowers, or other little dings. And a lot of them were just one dollar! A kind, and smart, woman took me under her wing and told me which ones were most likely to thrive once they were in the ground. I spent much less than usual and, lo and behold, my plants didn't die. Follow the frugal gardeners. They know things.

2. Look for supplies like pots at the dollar store or find them secondhand.

Before you hit the fancy nursery, or even the big box stores, take a look at your local dollar store or a thrift shop. You can find everything from pots to tomato cages, and the quality is as good as anywhere else.

3. Shop with a friend so you can split multiple seedlings.

Buying in larger quantities is a good way to save, but you might not want eight pepper plants. Shop with a friend or neighbor and split what you buy, so everyone gets what they want. You could even make it fun and turn it into a gardening day, going from house to house and helping each other get things in the ground.

4. Make compost from all your good intentions.

You know all those vegetables you buy and plan to eat, until you get too busy to cook? Don't throw them away. Recoup some of your investment by composting them. Instead of buying pricey fertilizer, make compost to enrich your soil. Throughout the year, use your kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and dead leaves to make a pile of material that will enrich your soil and help your plants grow.

5. Look into buying mulch in bulk and spreading it yourself.

Mulch helps keep your soil moist and at a consistent temperature. It also helps suppress weeds and just looks nice. A lot of real estate agents recommend it to increase curb appeal when you're trying to sell, and there's no reason not to enjoy it yourself, even if you're happy where you are. You can pay someone to spread it for you, or you can look into having it delivered and spreading it yourself, a much cheaper option. You may be able to save even more by ordering with the neighbors and sharing the mulch. And don't forget: The kids can help!

6. Think long term.

Consider planting perennials like bulbs or flowering bushes, so you can have flowers year after year. 

7. Ready for the furniture? Find it used.

Look on Craig's List, bulletin boards, curbside, and in the paper. You should be able to get some great pieces for very little money, or even for free, if you're willing to pick them up. You can paint them to match your taste, and buy cushions to ramp up the style even more. As for those cushions, if you can wait a year, they'll be on deep clearance at the end of the season, which might make it worth going without for a while.

How do you make your outdoor space a fun place to be without breaking the bank?