Lawn & Garden

11 Surprising Places to Get Free Gardening Supplies and Save Money

Discover ways to get your garden up and running this spring without needing a money tree.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
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Spring is finally on the way. Spring offers warmer weather and more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. It is the perfect time to start working in your garden—or even start your first garden. However, with times as tight as they are, spending money on more gardening supplies is probably the last thing you want to do right now. Fortunately, there are many different places you can find free gardening supplies, allowing you to keep your costs way down when setting up your garden this spring. Read on to discover some surprising places where you can get free gardening supplies.

RELATED: 19 “Zero Dollar” Garden Hacks

1. Local Gardening Groups

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Try searching for local gardening groups—either those that meet in-person or a local Facebook group. You might find that experienced gardeners are interested in helping novice gardeners get started. Similarly, if someone in the group has recently upgraded their gardening tools, ordered more soil or mulch than they need, or has some plant clippings ready to propagate, they may also be willing to give these items away to someone who could use them.

2. Local City or County Government

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Depending on where you live, you might be able to get free gardening supplies from your local government or park service. Some local governments offer programs to help provide seeds, mulch, or other supplies to their residents. If your city collects compost, you may also be able to get a few bags of compost for free that you can use to fertilize the plants in your garden.

RELATED: 20 Totally Free Ways to Start a Garden This Year

3. Tree Service Companies

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If you know anyone who works for a tree service company, or are looking to make a new friend, they may be able to help you get some free mulch. These companies spend all day cutting down branches and trees and putting them through a wood chipper. This means that they have tons of wood chips that could serve as mulch for your garden—or to help you create that no-mow yard you’ve been dreaming about.

4. Local Buy Nothing Group

iStock-1347180754 save money gardening Loading torture wood chips bark on a wheelbarrow with a shovel from a car
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If you’re not a member of your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook, you’ll want to look into joining it right away. Buy Nothing Groups are just what they sound like; they aim to help community members meet their needs without spending money to buy anything new. Members in the group will post things that they no longer need and are looking to give away to someone in the community who can use it. Keep your eyes peeled for any gardening supplies or plants. In addition to waiting for someone to post something you need, you can also make your own post to request the items you’re looking for. If you need some mulch, a few seed packets, or a gardening tools set, post an “ask” to the group. You never know who has gardening supplies just sitting and collecting dust in their garage or shed.

RELATED: 8 Smart Ways to Put Your Garden on Autopilot

5. Starbucks

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When you think of where you may be able to get free gardening supplies, Starbucks probably isn’t anywhere on your radar. However, the chain does give away free coffee grounds, which can be used as fertilizer in your garden. The grounds have nitrogen, iron, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that will help plants grow. Moreover, they can help bring more worms to your garden and can absorb heavy metals in the soil.

6. Local libraries

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Your local library may be a good resource for getting free seeds. Check the calendar to see if there are any gardening presentations on the schedule. If so, they may be offering some free seeds or other supplies for those who attend the presentation. Some community libraries have also been looking for more ways to help the community members in their cities. Seeking to help their residents facing food insecurity, libraries in various communities have started offering free seeds so people can grow their own food. Check with your local libraries to see if they are participating in any similar programs.

RELATED: Do These 8 Things and Never Pay for Plants Again

7. Online Marketplaces

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You can also check online marketplaces, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, when you’re looking for free gardening supplies. People looking to get rid of their items might post them for free on these sites, allowing you to snag up a great deal and save some money.

8. Alt National Park Service

iStock-1413188728 save money on gardening A view of meadow filled with butterfly attracting flowers
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The Alt National Park Service wants to do everything it can to save pollinators. They see how important bees and butterflies are for our ecosystems and the food chain. For this reason, they are offering free black-eyed Susan or butterfly milkweed seeds packets to anyone who is willing to plant them and attract these beneficial pollinators. You can request one free seed packet by completing the form on the website.

RELATED: How to Save Seeds (and Money!)

9. Your Friends and Neighbors

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Before spending money on gardening supplies, don’t forget to check with your friends and neighbors. They may have old gardening tools they no longer use that they’d be willing to give to you. Your friends or neighbors may have ordered soil, mulch, or seeds for their garden. If they didn’t end up using everything they ordered, they may be more than happy to give it to you and get it out of their shed or garage. Many plants, like tomato plants, spider plants, and azaleas, can be grown from cuttings. If your friends or neighbors have any of these plants, ask them if they’d mind giving you a few cuttings that you could plant in your garden.

10. Your Kitchen

iStock-1322887287 save money gardening overhead of woman chopping cucumbers and tomatoes
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The next time you eat a cucumber, tomato, squash, or any other fruit or vegetable, consider saving the seeds. Depending on the climate where you live and the type of fruit or vegetable, you may be able to plant these seeds in your garden to grow your own produce.

RELATED: 8 Tricks for Quick Composting Your Way to Free Fertilizer

11. Save Our Monarchs Foundation Pollinator Garden Program

iStock-1429792634 save money gardening background of zinnia flowers and a monarch butterfly
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The Save Our Monarch Foundation is dedicated to protecting monarch butterflies and keeping them from becoming extinct. One way they are working towards this goal is by offering a free pollinator garden mix to anyone who is willing to plant the flowers in their garden for monarch butterflies. The mix includes 17 different types of wildflowers (10 annuals and seven perennials). A few of the flower varieties included in the pack include butterfly milkweeds, purple coneflowers, perennial lupines, wild bergamot, California poppies, and dwarf sunspot sunflowers.