I have to admit I am a sucker when it comes to spending money in the garden. When we moved here our yard was just plain grass. I always longed for a lush, mature yard with big trees. I have spent a lot of money trying to achieve that. I have bought and planted a ton of flowering shrubs, added some fencing, a garden shed and a patio. Four years ago we had a nursery transplant larger trees in our yard. It gave us a head start on getting trees large enough for shade (vital in our southwest facing yard). You can see the tree planted 4 years ago on the far left. The one on the far right was planted 8 years ago. You can see quite a difference in the size so we figured that it was a good investment for us.
I would love to spend even more money but with a tight budget there are places we have had to economize. One thing that has saved us money is buying smaller shrubs. We don't get "instant" results but when the shrubs fill out they look just as nice. I have also had a lot of "donations" from friends and family. We have a line of plum trees across the back of our yard, all dug out from around my parent's plum tree. We have lilacs and bridal wreath spirea, all from cuttings from their yard. Maple tree's that started as seedlings around a neighbour's maple trees. Rose of sharon sprouted from a friend's bush. Patio stones from a friend who was throwing them out. You get the idea.
This year we had to remove our shade gazebo because after 4 years the fabric was falling apart. I am buying another, second-hand, from a friend who is taking hers down to put in a pool. There was still a lot of usable parts on the one we took down. I have re-purposed the panels into trellises for my Virginia Creeper (dug up from my mom's yard, of course) The panels will make a great trellis to get the vines up the fence.
The other thing I have done is make my own hanging baskets. I have been re-using the same baskets bought a few years ago. I use a mixture of top-soil and compost to fill the baskets. I buy annuals at the garden centre. For my baskets this year I planted 3 different plants in each one.
compost $3.99 (enough for 7 baskets)
Cost per basket for soil= 86¢
Total cost per basket $5.40
It took me about 1/2 hour to make up 5 baskets.
I think they turned out pretty good.