Controversial question, I know. Most of my gardening friends are seemingly gentle souls and claim to be quite at odds with the whole consumerist/treadmill thing: avoiding fashion shops at all costs; expensive holidays? “No thanks I would rather garden” they say. Find them at the front of the queue at any local jumble sale. ‘The humble gardener’ we all think, but get to know them a bit better and lordy lord, start gardening yourself even and you soon realise that actually gardening is one of the best ways to pour money away, whilst seeming incredibly thrifty and hard working.
Looking after our gardens has become a popular pastime in the UK and it is estimated that over the course of a gardener’s lifetime, they’ll spend £30,000 on tending to their garden. A staggering amount by anyone’s standards, but just how does the amount break down?
Typically it would seem a third of the budget is spent on plants, a third on hard landscaping and structures such as paths, patios and decking and a third on labour – creating the garden in the first place and then paying people to tend it.
Of course these are just average figures and you do not have to pay people. For me one of the most satisfying gardening tasks is once a bed is planted up in a nice mix of soil and compost, laying bark chips on top, knowing they will mulch down and enrich the soil further. I would not want anyone else doing that for me. You can find an excellent selection at Compost Direct
Ways to spend and ways to save
Hiring someone to cut your grass can cost around £30. This will usually be required fortnightly, from March to September, racking up a total cost of £420 annually. Assuming a cost of a lawnmower is just a one off cost of £100, cutting your own grass can save thousands over a lifetime.
Laying a patio yourself, around 4m by 2m would cost approximately £500. You would need around 18 900mm x 900mm paving slabs, hardcore and bedding mortar. It is a labour-intensive task though, so while you may be able to save money, it may be more worthwhile to call in the professionals.
The cost of decking can range from £15 to £100 per square metre or more, for good quality hardwood or a composite. A joiner might charge £200 per day and simple deck is likely to be a 2 day job…
Keen gardeners can of course save money swapping plants and cuttings with friends, but I do know that this frugal activity is never enough and let loose in a garden centre or a plant sale they just go mad – 1 plant is never sufficient for a really keen gardener – they have to buy 10!
Basically gardening is just a dizzying mix of spending and saving and there is joy to be had from both activities in my book.
Douglas took these images in my brother’s garden – a magical and unforgettable place where they held their daughter’s wedding earlier this year as a last hurrah before moving to their stunning new home in the Trossachs – watch out for news of their progress