Rose Gardening Is Expensive! What Are Some Ways Of Saving Money?

le_jardin_of_roses(zone 10)September 4, 2009

I am trying to use my money more wisely these days. I have learned to value a dollar much more than I used to. So I was figuring out how much I spent on my rose garden this year and I was surprised by how much it has cost me. I want to create a gardening budget, but between ordering roses, buying dirt, compost, time-release fertilizer, Miracle-Grow food supplement, fish fertilizer, fancy pots, garden decor, high water bills(in CA), etc., etc., etc., how do I do this?

How do you stay within your own-budget for gardening? What are some of the ways you save on what you spend? What vendors for all things pertaining to roses and the garden have the best deals?

One way I have learned to save is to do research on a rose before I buy it so I don't have to shovel prune. It's like throwing away money to have to get rid of a rose that did not work out. The cost of mail orders and shipping is no joke.


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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

One way is to buy on-line when there are sales, such as Vintage and EuroDesert Roses are having right now. For my primary fertilizer, which works really well, I get 40-lb bags of alfalfa meal at the feed store for $20 which last for a very long time and thus is very economical. I would also look for pots on sale and settle on less fancy ones and let the roses be the focus of interest. Garden decor is something that can be left out when the budget is tight and again bought on sale when possible. Mulching heavily does cut down on water bills, in addition to helping the roses. I use leaves from my trees but I don't know it that's an option for you.

I hope this helps a little bit.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 1:43PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

You can fertilize effectively at negligible cost with a combination of 10-10-10 and alfalfa, both purchased in 40 lb. bags (around $15).

Some cities maintain municipal leaf dumps with free pickup of partially composted leaves. This makes good mulch, or, with a year's aging, OM to mix in the soil.

Some California gardeners use just enough drip irrigation to keep plants alive through the summer months.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:31PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Ashdown Roses is selling plants for $6 each until Oct. 1.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 2:32PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Make your own compost. It also helps to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills.

"Roses can't read" and don't know fancy fertilizers from no-name.

And this may not be an issue for you, but for those of us who live in high-blackspot pressure areas, grow disease resistant roses.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 3:18PM
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I use a LOT of 5-gal plastic buckets under my eaves during the few rainstorms we get. Harvesting that rainwater for my container roses saves at least one full watering cycle.

Compost. It's cheap, it's easy and doesn't take much space. Getting a $1.50 bag of dried steer manure at HD is the most expense I put into it. My egg shells, coffee grounds, veg & fruit peels are just trash anyway. Freeze them before adding to the composter and they'll be gone within a few weeks. Don't have leaves or grass? Ask you neighbors for donations. You'll be begging them to stop deliveries, lol.

Buy less roses. We read it on this forum every day. People get on this addiction route and buy roses without doing their research. Not even a season goes by that they're shovel-pruning one and heading out for another. Joining a local rose society costs about the same as a rose bush and the amount of knowledge you glean from one is invaluable for growing the best roses in your climate. We often share bulk orders, win roses or fertilizer in raffles and attend other rosy events like rose auctions where you can get a BUNCH of bushes for very little cost since they're donated for the fundraising effort. Rose society raffles are also great places to dump your unwanted roses. One man's trash really is another one's treasure when it comes to roses. We often trade roses, too.

Grow roses that can flourish without great amounts of fertilizers, chemical sprays and water in your area and limit the ones that need all this stuff. Pretty soon you'll resent the divas and remove them (see rose society raffles above).

Buy quality tools and take care of them. Cheap isn't good if the item is destined for the landfill. Replace sprayer parts instead of the whole unit, take apart and clean your pruning shears, clean and store your shovels, rakes and wheelbarrow when not in use. Limit the use of caustic cleaners... bad for you, the tool and the environment.

Adjust your expectations. Bugs and disease happen. Heat-stress happens. Rain doesn't happen very often in my area. Don't jump on the bandwagon. I resisted the M's... Merit, mycchorizae (sp) and Messenger and still managed to win a few ribbons and trophies at local shows with my spray-free, organically grown roses.

I prefer organic rose foods and use alfalfa and dried chicken manure from the local egg ranch. My biggest expense is chelated iron. Wish it was in the soil already but it isn't.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 4:24PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

Alfalfa Pelletts, cheap...

Find a horse farm in your area, alot of times they dont know what to do with all the waste. I got 3 truckloads this spring for my new rose garden.

My dump gives away compost as well, so all my beds were admended with a mixture of horse manure, shavings, compost or leftover loam I had sitting around. Cost to me was negligable. My problem is I NEED tons of the stuff literally at my new place as Im carving gardenbeds out of woodland. I probable had 3 truckloads of each if not more, I cant remember how many times I went back, it took two truckloads of compost to make a new bed for next year as well.

Below is a picture of one truckload...

I ferterlized once this year with plant tone, all of my gardenbeds, next year all my roses will be giving a horse manure/compost mix as well.

I also compost myself, but you never NEVER can have enough compost.

Hopefully I cant find as much free next year as well.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 8:17PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Watch for end of season sales and closeouts and stock up at the reduced prices. Many garden products can be purchased less expensively at farm supply stores such as Tractor Supply. Labeling a product for a pond, roses, or any specialized use can add many $$$ to its cost. An example would be pond heaters. The same thing purchased as a stock tank heater is quite a bit cheaper.
Remember what Diane said ""Roses can't read." Generic products or store labels instead of name brands can save a lot.
Buy fertilizers at farm co-ops. They often have other gardening products on sale.
If you have gutters and down spouts, place rain barrels under the down spouts to catch the precious rain water or divert the water into your beds with flexible piping available from home improvement stores. If one rain barrel is not enough for the rain, when it comes, combine two or more to catch any overflow. Don't buy anything labeled as a "Rain Barrel." any barrel will work. You may have to do a little adjusting to make it work but it'll cost a lot less.
There's a large store about 20 miles from me that deals in factory overstocks, closeouts, and salvage merchandise. They were called railroad salvage stores years ago. This place is as large as a WalMart store but not as neatly arranged. I visit there occassionally and stock up on gardening supplies I can use.
Example, short two-ten foot hoses cost more than a standard 25 or 50 feet hose if purchased or can be found at Lowes, etc. The last time I visited, they had odd length hose sections with both the male and female ends for $2-$3. I picked up an assortment. Fish emulsion was $2 a gallon. It was generic but smelled just as bad as name brand stuff. I got as many as I could carry.
That reminds me, It's time for me to take a trip there.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 10:25PM
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predfern(z5 Chicago)

1) Why do you need fancy alfalfa and fish emusion? The American Rose Society recommends 12-12-12 for the casual rose grower. Walmart has a 35 lb. sack of 12-12-12 for $9.
2) Buy hardy, disease resistant roses. That way you don't spray.
Thus the entire cost of rose gardening is buying roses, fertilizing with 12-12-12, and watering.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2009 at 11:51PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Flying airplanes as a hobby is expensive. Keeping show-grade koi is expensive. Collecting art is expensive.

Gardening is cheap.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 12:48AM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Learn the difference between an investment and waste.
Two people going to a movie, buying popcorn, drinks and other food is a waste. Rent a movie and buy a rose - there you have an investment.

If you go out to dinner, you eat foods you don't particularly need or want, and run the risk of messing up your diet ---- invest in a rose.

Treat your grass to Round Up, sell your lawn mower, and stop putting fumes in the air. A yard full of roses is an investment compared to the waste of fuel, noise and dirt of a lawn mower or weed eater.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 10:56AM
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Terry Crawford

Predern, what is the fertilizer for $9 called? I go through lots of fertilizer during the summer. Thanks...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 11:03AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Alfalfa isn't fancy. In addition to adding organic materials to the soil, it contains a growth hormone, tricontanol. It is also inexpensive, usually $10 - $12 for 50#.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 4:16PM
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Root your own roses. I just potted up 5 cuttings I had in 1 gallon plastic bags on my glassed in back porch. All of them rooted, and I expect to have 5 new rose plants to plant in the garden in about 6 months. It is really easy. That way you can spread around your favorites, or take cuttings of old roses you see & like around the neighborhood (having asked permission, of course). Can't do it with really modern ones that are trade marked or copyrighted or whatever they are, but most roses are not. You get plants on their own roots, which live much longer and do great in CA.

Also I will echo everyone else - make your own compost!


    Bookmark   September 5, 2009 at 6:57PM
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Hardly spent anything this year, I purchased 2 50 pound bags of Alfalfa meal; a few 25 pound bags of rose tone. It's pretty much all I use these days.

We compost a lot of stuff. Things like egg cartons (I refuse to buy eggs in plastic) toilet paper rolls, any kind of biodegradable packaging, newspaper (if we buy one). This is in addition to the usual stuff - coffee grinds, veggie scraps; grass clippings, garden waste.

The other thing is worms. At our old house & this one we had no worms until we started using newspaper. At one time I was moving plants from my dad's house, he had different worms then us, I took as many as I could find. I've also brought those worms to the new house. I know they are his worms because they stay on top and are so large they look like small snakes.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 9:07AM
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I show dogs, so this hobby is NOTHING in comparison! I mean, dog food id pricey, vet bills, travel expenses, shampoos, conditioners, supplements, show entries, health testing...its easy to take a $1000 dog and spend $10,000 on them before you ever get the coveted SHAMPION in front of their name! My hubby was greatful I decided to get back into something else for a change.....he would be really glad if I would stop going to a dog show or grooming competition every 4-6 weeks all year long as well! LOL

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 12:54PM
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canadian_rose(zone 3a)

I have composters from Lee Valley Tools (expensive). But what I like about them is that they are on rollers on top of a compartment which collects the run-off from the composting. I take liquid from the bottom collector thing and put it in my wheelbarrow. Then I add water until the wheelbarrow is full. I use buckets of this to fertilize my roses. So it's also adding live bacteria etc. to the roses. I've never had so many blooms. That's all I add plus regular watering. I do no other spraying, feeding whatsover.

I feel so proud feeding my roses this compost tea that it's ridiculous to anyone but those on this forum!! :)


    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 1:23PM
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le_jardin_of_roses(zone 10)

So much great advice! Thank you Ingrid and Michaelg! I know someone who goes to a feed store for horses. I will tell him to pick me up some 40lb bags of alfalfa and I can collect leaves from the local parks to mulch with. Checking Ashdown and Vintage for the sales, too. Thanks Diane_nj, Moroseaz, Silverkelt, Karl_bapst_rosenut, Predfern, Terryjean, Sammy, Jacqueline3, Roselvr and Canadian_rose for the wealth of info.!!! You all have made me realize that compost makes the garden world go 'round.

Also thanks Hoovb and Particentral, for putting things in perspective. I suppose it's all relative and there are other hobbies that can be more expensive, but creating a gardening budget will help me get to the point of being wealthy enough to fly airplanes as a hobby, keep show grade koi and collect expensive art. Now, dealing with show dogs is not a hobby I would pursue. :)


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 12:58PM
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**Now, dealing with show dogs is not a hobby I would pursue. :) ***

And on days like today when my puppy cocker (almost one year old) is in season and driving me nuttier trying to get to my male (they WILL NOT have puppies this time around!) I wonder why I do it.....or when they all need washing at once cause it rained and they went swimming....I should just change to breeds that have no hair. :) instead I have cockers....nuts. that is what I am!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Ahhh, but a beautiful particolor cocker flying around the ring in full coat... that's why you do it!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Yeah, this is why I do it.....LOL Particentral's It's Not Easy Being Me.....AKA KERMIT!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 10:03AM
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le_jardin_of_roses(zone 10)

Particentral, your dog is absolutely gawjus! I want to go to whatever salon he uses. He looks like a winner to me.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 11:32AM
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The salon is mine...LOLOLOL He is a winner! We have a silver medal at the World grooming Competition this year. :)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 11:45AM
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I am sorry! I forgot to say thank you! That was rude of me I apologize....trying to email from the front desk while answering the phone is not a good idea!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 12:20PM
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