This is the time of year when the savvy shopper can net some great bargains in the landscaping department. Over the past three weeks, I’ve bought over $100 worth of plants for about $25. I’ve been haunting the clearance department of Lowe’s garden center and I’ve been proud of what I’ve found. The flower bed I’ve been valiantly trying to fill with perennials is pretty much done, and I also found an unexpected bargain when I discovered Knock-Out Rose bushes for $5 each. I’ve been considering planting a row of them across the front of our Western gable wall, and the two that I bought were a good start.
However, when you buy this time of year and when you’re buying clearance landscaping plants, you can’t just buy anything, and your plants will need a little TLC. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re landscaping on the cheap.
1. Talk to the garden center manager to find out which days they clear out plants that are past their prime. Then, get in the habit of slipping into the garden center on that morning so you can get dibs on the best plants.
2. Droopy and not blooming is okay. Crispy and brown is not. Many perennials are a bit pot bound by the time they make it to the clearance rack. This means that their roots are so tangled they won’t hold water very well. They may look a little dry and droopy. However, if the plants have gone past droopy to crispy, brown leaves, you probably want to pass on them.
3. Be flexible in your landscaping colors. Many perennials and annuals may not have any open blooms on them when they are in the clearance department. That’s okay! Flowers are pretty in any color and once you plant and water them well, they will probably put out some blooms. Even if they don’t bloom, you will have the excitement of looking forward to some special, surprise blooms next summer.
4. Plant them as soon as you can! I keep the plants indoors or in a cool shady place when I bring them home, and I give them a good watering right away. When it gets to the twilight hours, that’s when I go plant them outdoors. This gives them an overnight to soak up water before the summer heat pounds down on them again.
5. Gently tease out pot bound roots. Like I said, most plants on clearance are a bit pot bound. Gently untangle the roots as you plant them. You may want to toss in a few handfuls of compost if your dirt is poor to help your plants get a good start.
6. Mulch them well. The mulch will help keep the roots cool and moist.
7. WATER WATER WATER! Planting things in July means that you HAVE to provide water to these fragile plants. Usually, I water them daily for about a week if there’s no rain. Then, I keep a close eye on them. If we have dry spell or they start looking droopy, I give them a good drink. Remember that deep watering is better than a quick sprinkle. You want the roots to get a good soaking each time you water them.
You don’t have to have hundreds of dollars to fill your beds with a lush display of perennials and annuals. Keep these tips in mind and soon you will have a cottage garden to be proud of!