My plans have been foiled. I had a number of big ideas for my garden this year, but because of some budget constraints, I’ve been forced to cut back. That doesn’t mean my garden won’t eventually bloom into what I’m envisioning – it just means it’s going to happen more slowly.

Rangy front yard

While I can reshape my frontyard garden and add some structural plant material, other changes will have to wait until spring.

Photo Credit: Sarah Landicho

Garage needs plantings

I had planned on covering up the ugly concrete this fall with plants that would offer year-round interest, but instead I’ll resort to just planting spring bulbs – which will buy me some time to add other material later.

Photo Credit: Sarah Landicho

Perhaps my dreams were a little grand to tackle in just one season anyway. I had planned for improvements in both my front and back yards – and when I’m digging things out by hand…well, it just might’ve been too much. But no matter. With a little patience and elbow grease, my plans will come to fruition.

The garden in my front yard needs a little expansion. When I originally planted it, I didn’t think it out too well. I basically just put into the ground what I thought would do well. Now I’m actually thinking toward the future. I need to dig out some more space so the very shape of my planting bed is more aesthetically pleasing. I need height. I need more plants. I need bulbs. I need another tree.

And I need more money to get what I want.

So I’ve got to take the patient approach. I need to figure out my plan – what I’d like to see where, and then only plant what I can afford for now. That means planting my tree and buying the bulbs I want. And I can still reshape the garden, amend the soils and mulch the area. That’ll be it for now.

I’ve got the same story going on in my back yard. We had a new garage installed last year, and we’ve got to cover about 18 inches of unsightly concrete that now rises above the grass. The drip line from the garage roof is only about 9 inches wide, so I’m limited in my plant choices. I’ve spent the past 12 months mulling over what I want to add. I’ve finally figured out what I’ll plant for the most part. The sad fact is I simply can’t get it all at once – no matter how much I want it. But hey – at least I can get started.

Just like with my front yard, I can dig out the back garden – which will save me a lot of work come spring – and I can plant my bulbs. The tulips and daffodils will rise out of the ground come April and May, distracting our family and visitors from the ugly concrete and buying me some time until I can afford my other plants that’ll camouflage the area year-round.

Of course, this still leaves me with the task of finding my tree for the front yard. I’ve got my mind set on one of two: redbud or smoketree. I want to find something good, but I don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. And now’s the perfect time to look: Garden centers are just heating up for fall planting – a great time to plant many trees – so the selection should be pretty good. I plan to shop around and find not only a high-quality plant, but one at a good price and with a nice guarantee. That way if something goes wrong, I can bring in the receipt (and my dead tree) and get my money back.

The same goes for my bulbs. I got my first bulb catalog in mid-August. Before I order anything, I’m gonna shop around. And shop early – before everything gets picked over and I’m left with whatever no one else wanted.

The nice thing about gardening on a budget is that I’ll be sure to spend my money on what I definitely want – and focus on the major features of my garden. And I’ve still got time to decide what I want to fill in my spaces. Whether I’ll want to purchase some new containers to incorporate into my front yard beds come spring or add some blooming beauties that I grow from seed, I’ve got all winter to figure it out. And come spring, I’ll be itchin’ to get out and plant my pre-prepared garden so our family can enjoy the beauty all summer long. (Now where’s my trowel?)