How To Save: Gardening by Mercedes Cardona

Follow these tips to grow your garden without shrinking your wallet

1. Hire the grandkids.

We've said it before and we'll say it again. Pay the young ones to do chores around the house. They can easily weed or pick up leaves; teen grandkids can mow or prune bushes. It's cheaper than a landscaper and gets the grandkids outdoors.

2. Mulch away.

Find out if your town gives away free wood chips for your plant beds, says home savings expert Marcia Layton Turner, of Some municipalities, like San Diego, offer mulch and compost made from Christmas trees and discarded foliage. The grandkids will love hearing that their tree got a new life in your yard.

3. Get cheap plants.

Extension programs and botanical gardens often give away plants or hold plant sales. The Arbor Day Foundation gives ten flowering trees free with each new $10 membership, and you get a 33 to 56 percent discount on more than 100 other trees and shrubs. Put it in a grandkid's name and teach him or her about the environment.

4. Exterminate bug sprays.

Get pests under control by mixing one tablespoon of dishwashing soap with one cup of cooking oil, says Karen Hoxmeier, shopping expert of Use three tablespoons of mix to one quart of water and spray directly on the plants; it's cheap and safe for pets and grandkids playing in your yard.

5. Go to seed.

Growing plants from seeds is the least expensive way to go and can be very rewarding, especially for grandchildren, says Hoxmeier. She recommends growing flowers that seed themselves such as violas, larkspur, and breadseed poppies.