9 Dirt cheap gardening tips

Male gardener watering his garden
Get your garden into shape for summer!

“In like a lion, out like a lamb”, or so the saying goes. Yes, it’s March – time to prise the shed door open, sweep the cobwebs away and reach for your gardening tools.

But how can you make the most of your outdoor space, and save money at the same time? Here are our top ten tips to help you save money in the garden.

Think planters made from recycled sturdy mens boots; a novel fertiliser solution and a good old fashioned weed killer alternative…

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Gardening Olympics – Mowing Medals and the 100m Scarifier

London Olympics 2012
What if there was a Gardening Olympics?

As I write, loose limbed young athletes, the very cream of the crop from countries around the world are limbering up for the greatest show on earth; the Olympics.

But what if gardening was a sport? From the 10m daffodil deadhead to the 100m scarifier, here is our guide to the toughest events of the Gardening Olympics – the greatest ‘sow’ on earth.

Parsnip Pentathlon

Parsnip Pentathlon

An unusual choice for the inaugural event at the first ever gardening olympiad, but the parsnip pentathlon would undoubtedly make for one of the most gruelling events for the olympic gardener.

First, the earth must be dug over and sieved to remove stones. The hole is then prepared, fertilised, filled and finally the seeds inserted. This is a task requiring patience, attention to detail and accuracy – certainly not for the faint hearted.

Mowing Medals

mown lawn
Mowing Medals

Mowing presents a true contest of skill. There’d be points awarded for straightness, points for creative endeavour and also points for the elegance of the turn.

Mowing is of course already a sport in its own right but for the olympic event, there would be several categories; hand mowing, electric, petrol, sit on and of course, the 100m scythe.

10m Daffodil Deadhead

10m Squared Daffodil Deadhead

Not to be confused with the deadlift, the deadhead requires excellent hand, eye coordination, a good wrist action and thoroughness. The 10m squared daffodil deadhead would challenge even the most experienced gardener.

Imagine the debates that would rage about which species of flower to select for the event; Daffs don’t grow everywhere after all. Rather than ‘altitude’ training, some gardening athletes would probably have to resort to ‘latitude’ training.

Speed Weeding

speed weeding
Speed Weeding

The scourge of every gardener, the elimination of weeds would make a perfect olympic event. Just as a hurdler has to combine, speed with clean jumping, the weeder’s score would take into account both time taken and the number of weeds missed.

As a subcategory of weeding, hoeing would also feature in our Gardening Olympics, with points deducted for mistaking seedlings for weed shoots.

Box Hedging

box hedging
Box Hedging

An event that combines athleticism with artistry; boxing would be judged by a multinational panel of experts. Score cards would be held aloft; the dream of every entrant, a line of perfect nines.

This could only be achieved by faultless, immaculate use of secateurs on the box hedge combined with the divine creativity of the topiary employed. Pruning, a less glamorous sport battling for recognition would not be recognised as an olympic event, much to the frustration of campaigners for its inclusion.

100m Scarifier

100m Scarifier

Few gardening tasks call for as much elbow grease as scarifying a lawn by hand. With events over a range of distances, the 100 metres scarifier would be the blue riband event of the Gardening Olympics. Tall, muscular, lycra clad, welly wearing gardeners would strut about before the start, eyeing each other up, trying to face down their opponents.

Silence for the start, the tension is palpable. A loud bang and they’re off, moss and thatch flying in all directions. One draws ahead of the field, knees pumping, rake going like the clappers. He dips his chest as he crosses the line, victorious. Later, tears fill the champion’s eyes as he climbs the podium to receive the golden seed tray and in a later interview he gives all the credit to his Mum.

Garden vacs and other machines that suck

Sinclair C5
Image source: The Guitar Mann
Not so fast! The Sinclair C5 was legally restricted to 15 mph

Some machines really suck (in a bad way) like the Sinclair C5 above, and then there’s the machines that really suck … suck stuff up in a good way, like the mega helpful garden vac.

Have a ponder at our collection of real bad suckers and the good ones too.


Image source: Yastremska
Dishwashers suck

You might be keeping up with the Joneses, but dishwashers suck! They take ages and you have to clean most of the dirty dishes before you put them inside anyway — hello!?

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson vac
Image source: Axel Buerkert
Dyson vacuum cleaners suck

They look like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but Dyson’s vacuum cleaners will suck up everything in sight including your pets and children. Super sucker.

Onion Goggles

Onion goggles
Image source: Hemeroskopion
Onion goggles suck

No more tears when your cutting onions with these mad professor onion goggles. Yes, somebody did actually invent these. Real bad suckers.


Let’s not forget the trusty gobstopper machine, which for a couple of coins will always provide you with hours of sucking fun.

Road Sweeper

Opinion is divided on the road sweeper. Sure it cleans up the streets like your favourite superhero, but it also makes a hell of a racket in the morning. This one sucks good, but sucks.

Garden Vac

garden vacs
Garden vacs - our favourite suckers

Why brush when you can vac? It sucks all day long, mulches up leaves and will clean up your garden faster than you can say, “Is it autumn yet?” This baby’s our favourite sucker.