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Dirt-Cheap Ways to Grow a Garden

These days, it's money that makes a garden grow.

Gardening has long been one of the top leisure activities for many Americans. But green thumbs are finding that this hobby can quickly become quite expensive.

It doesn't have to be. With a little bit of effort and keeping an eye open for plants that are looking for a good home, you can fill your garden without emptying your wallet.

In fact, beautiful gardens can be created at a very low cost, and many plants can be obtained at no charge.

Here are 10 great ways to build your garden with plants that don't cost a dime:

1. Look for Unloved Plants

You probably think your local nursery will have the highest prices for garden plants. That's probably true if you are looking for plants in the main retail area. But frugal gardeners look behind the building to find free plants.

Plants that don't look healthy won't sell and take up valuable retail space, so they usually end up back by the trash bins. Most people who run nurseries hate to throw out any kind of plant -- no matter what condition it's in -- and will usually let you take any plant you'd like.

Simply ask the manager if there are plants that can't be sold, and if you may claim them. While they won't look as beautiful as those on the retail floor, these plants (especially any that are native to your area), with a little bit of care, can be nursed back to health in no time.

2. Bartering and Trading

If you want to be a little more choosy when it comes to plants for your garden, consider bartering with a neighbor. This works especially well if you have junk lying around the house that you no longer want or need.

The stuff doesn't even have to be garden-related. This is also a great way to get gardening tools and supplies that can cost a pretty penny when purchased brand new.

3. Plant Rescues

Simply keep your eyes open when driving down the street, especially on trash days. Many people move during spring and abandon their plants in the process.

While you are likely to find more houseplants this way than garden plants, they are still worth rescuing, even if you don't plan to keep them. These plant rescues are excellent for trading and bartering. While it may be an extra step, it still will allow you to get free plants.

4. The Internet

The Internet is a wonderful place to pick up free plants. FreeCycle will allow you to make requests for free plants, which should get you plenty.

People who are moving who are a bit more organized will try to find homes for plants they won't be talking with them. Most gardeners love to share extra plants that they have when preparing their own spring gardens.
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