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How starting a garden this year can save you money

Date posted:  6/27/16 09:00:00 AM Invest in a garden

You might recognize gardening as an enjoyable hobby that can help reduce stress. However, you may not know it's also a creative way to save money this summer. 

So dust off your garden gloves and consider these factors when starting your very own money-saving oasis:

Eat your veggies! 
One of the most obvious ways gardening can cut costs is through the fruit of your labor. Planting vegetables, herbs and other edibles gives you quite the money-saving crop. In fact, the National Gardening Association indicated in a survey that a 600-square-foot garden costs about $70 to get started and it produces nearly $600 worth of fresh produce over the course of the growing season, U.S. News & World Report stated. 

In addition to saving money on groceries, having fresh fruit and vegetables easily accessible means you'll likely pick up healthier eating habits. 

For the most substantial return on investment, Bonnie Plants suggested growing the following for maximum savings

  • Tomatoes 
  • Lettuce 
  • Herbs 
  • Specialty peppers

Consider what you and your family enjoy eating the most and try growing these items to save money throughout the growing season. You'll also want to incorporate kitchen staples that you use in recipes. For example, onions and garlic are incorporated in many dishes. 

If you find you're growing more than you can consume, you may want to consider heading to a local farmers market to sell some of your crops. This is a creative way to make a little extra money on the side. 

Save energy 
Add fruit trees to your harvest and you can reduce your home's energy expenses. Shade from trees can decrease the temperature by anywhere from 20 to 40 degrees during the summer months, which is especially helpful for your air conditioner. 

You can save as much as $250 each year with a few well-placed trees, so head to your local garden center and invest in these essentials.

Increase the value of your home 
Having a well-tended garden can also add value to your home as it makes the exterior of your home more appealing. By investing time in gardening, whether landscaping or in a vegetable garden, you can turn up the charm on your property. 

If you are looking to sell your home, these small features can have a profound impact on potential buyers. You may be able to increase interest in your property, which may lead to a higher selling price in the end. 

Getting started 
Once you are convinced of the benefits associated with having a garden, you'll need to establish a budget for starting one. Decide how much you can spend on tools, seeds, mulch and any borders you might incorporate into the design. 

After making your purchases, you'll also want to maximize your harvest. Bankrate suggested selecting a spot in your yard that gets sufficient exposure to the sun throughout the day. Typically you want your garden to be in direct sunlight for at least eight hours, but six hours each day will suffice. 

In addition, you'll want to ensure the soil is loose so roots can easily grow and that there is plenty of elbow room for all of your plants to expand. 

"People get excited about going out and planting a garden," said Allen Smith, host of P. Allen Smith Gardens, according to Bankrate. "And what they do is take on more area than they should and don't prepare the soil properly. The result is lackluster. They squander their resources."

When your plants are spread out, you'll get more out of your harvest. In fact, six tomato plants 3 feet apart from one another will produce more than 12 tomato plants spaced 18 inches from each other. 

Know when to plant 
Research the best growing times for the plants you've decided to incorporate into your garden before starting your planting. Doing your homework on the plants you love the most will help you maximize the garden. 

Start composting 
Composting is a fantastic way to add more nutrients to your garden and increase yield. 

"The world's very best fertilizer—100 percent, tested for 10,000 years—is compost," noted Eliot Coleman, the author of "Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long," reported Bankrate. "And it's made for free, in your backyard from waste products."

Simply mix grass clippings, yard waste, shredded paper, food scrapings and carbon together and allow it to aerate. Make sure you don't add any meat as it will not compost. 

Gardening is a fantastic way to connect with your land, live a healthier, happier life and even save money doing so. Don't let the growing season slip away! Get started on your very own outdoor oasis.