One word comes to mind when I’m out to find plant bargains and some new garden nurseries.

RESTRAINT.

Not just from maxing out my credit card, or buying superfluous goodies that I know will never find a home or get used in my garden. Instead, there are a few other reasons why you should plan before heading off for the nurseries.

Using a post I wrote some time ago on another blog, titled 5 ways to save money while shopping, I’m going to use similar themes to discuss our nursery excursions.

  • Eat before you shop – as hard as it is to be objective in your grocery needs when your tummy’s rumbling so it is almost impossible to choose carefully when you haven’t been in the garden recently. My biggest tendency when I’ve had a few busy weekends is to spend the next one gorging myself on plants at the nurseries rather than assess what I really need.

    Unless you know exactly what you need, take some time (maybe an hour or so) in the garden before heading off. Once you hit the nurseries, seeing all those new season plants, ornaments and gardening tools are going to tempt you to fill your trolley. Show some restraint and only buy the items that you were after.

    Often I’ve come back with some great bargain plants only to discover I have no room to plant them. Know where you’re going to grow your plants before buying them.

  • Rotate your shopping day by 1. the idea behind this principle in my other blog was that by moving your shopping day every week would eventually save you a week’s worth of grocery money after every 7 weeks. While most gardeners (and they’re obviously not real gardeners! lol) don’t visit the nurseries every week, rotating your nursery shopping days may also help you save some money.

    How? Most people visit the nurseries on the weekends. They can become congested, stressful and annoying at best. So, while you’re dealing with all that frustration it’s easy to grab stuff and be more spontaneous about your purchases.

    If possible, try visiting the nurseries on a weekday. This will mean that the queues are shorter and you will have more time to think through your purchases. You may even find the nursery owner a little more willing to give helpful advice and offer suggestions.

  • Buy per weight which could be better construed as “Buy per size.” I often find myself buying the smaller pots of a certain variety rather than opting for a more mature specimen. Mainly it has to do with dollars. But in reality it may actually work out cheaper to buy the more mature plant because it’s already been growing for a season or two more.

    Choosing young, immature plants has its risks. They are more susceptible to disease and pests and may still need another season or two in a greenhouse/ shadehouse. While there are no guarantees with either option you are more likely to have success with a plant that has been readied for planting than one that hasn’t.
    Just think of all the time you lose if it dies before it even gets to the mature specimen’s size.

  • Stay at the one shop in this case, stick with the one nursery rather than nurseries. This is a little different to the grocery shopping experience because usually it’s the same processed, branded items we’re purchasing and we’re just looking to save dollars.

    With a nursery, the idea of staying at the same one is more to do with finding a reputable outlet that gives you quality products and service. If you’ve had success with your plant purchases from certain nurseries then you’re more likely to have success again – or at least the rapport you’re striking with the nursery owner is more receptive to dealing with issues.

  • Buy in bulk – many nurseries will offer discounts to customers who buy a few plants at one time. One nursery that we frequent, usually rounds the amounts down or gives us a sizable discount when we spend more than a certain amount. This is great as it allows us to buy more plants for the same dollars.

    When you plan your trip to the nurseries try and space them so that you’re buying a few plants, tools and other products rather than frequent trips to buy one or two items.

So, next time you head off for the nurseries prepare to buy the best bargains, at the cheapest possible price – and ensure that you NEED it. Otherwise, just walk away…