Is Gardening Expensive? A Full Cost Breakdown


A common question that is always asked by those starting up is, how much does it cost to build a garden? Since I have been getting closer to planning a garden in my backyard, I wanted to know exactly how much the entire project would cost me from start to finish. So, I did some research online to come up with a full cost breakdown for the average garden.

How much does it cost to build a garden? The costs of building and maintaining a garden can fluctuate depending on a variety of factors including the size, types of plants, and required supplies and tools.

So, how much does gardening cost? The total cost of a single garden project can fall on the lower or higher end of the spectrum, based on the choices that are made in the initial planning stages. Read through this comprehensive cost breakdown to determine how much your gardening project will cost.

The Equipment That is Required for a Vegetable Garden

There are several electrical tools and pieces of equipment that are required for the construction, planting, and maintenance of a garden. Regardless of what it is you will be planting, there are multiple tasks that go into the action of planting any kind of garden.

The first tool that is required when initially planting a garden is called a garden tiller. Garden tillers come in various different forms, but the most convenient kind of tiller to use is the mechanical kind.

The appearance of a mechanical garden tiller is similar to that of a large farm plow vehicle but in a smaller form. To operate a garden tiller, you must place your hands on the handle and direct it over the soil just like you would with a lawnmower.

The main purpose of a garden tiller is to break up the dirt and distribute soil across the entire space for the new garden. This will take place immediately before the seeds are planted, and again after those plants have been harvested and new ones must be inserted into the soil.

Garden tillers break up the soil in order to aerate it, allowing the new seeds that will be planted to soak up all of the nutrients that are contained within the ground. It is common for the soil to become dry and form large clumps to where plants will not be able to access the nutrients and organic materials inside of them.

When purchasing a garden tiller, there are two main types of machines that you can choose from. These are called front-tine and rear-tine tillers.

The tines are the blades that are attached to the bottom of the garden tiller that rotates to sift through the soil and loosen it. These blades are most commonly shaped in a curved fashion and are very sharp in order to cut through the dirt effectively.

The main difference between the front and rear-tine garden tillers is the placement of these blades. Just like the name suggests, front-tine garden tillers have blades that face the direction in which they are being pushed. This means that the wheels are located behind the rows of tines.

Rear-Tine tillers, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of its counterpart. These types of machines have the wheels in front of the blades instead of behind them.

During the operation of a rear-tine tiller, you will notice that the blades will turn against the direction in which they are being pushed. In other words, when the tiller is being directed forward in front of you, the tines are rotating the opposite way.

As a result, rear-tine garden tillers will usually have a further reach down into the bottom of the soil than the front-tine machines do. The front-tine tillers will move their blades in the direction of the machine, which will still effectively shift the soil, but not nearly as deep as the alternative type of tiller.

If the built-in blades are not the correct size or shape for the task you are trying to complete in your garden, there are multiple options for replacement pieces that can be purchased along with the machine.

The first type of alternative blade is called a slasher tine. These pieces are extremely sharp blades that can cut through almost anything in their path.

Slasher tines are ideal for extremely hard ground that must be cut through. This could happen depending on the type of dirt or soil that is already in the ground as well as the moisture and rainfall since dried up water can cause the ground to stiffen more than usual.

Pick and chisel tines, on the other hand, are even sharper than slasher tines. With their extremely sharp and curved blades, these are ideal for moving soil that contains a lot of rocks or gravel.

They are extremely durable in comparison to the factory tines that will come on any mechanical tiller that you purchase and will be able to break up hard surfaces with ease. Pick and chisel tines can run through areas with a lot of obstructions without stopping or becoming damaged.

It is common for areas in which you would like to plant a garden to have existing grass, plants, or gravel. Instead of moving all of these things out of the way by hand in preparation for your garden tiller to pass through, specialty tines can be used to get the job done in one single motion.

The average price of a mechanical garden tiller can be anywhere form $75 to $300.

Once the land has been successfully tilled, it will almost be ready for planting. The next step that must take place before the seeds can be inserted into the ground is called cultivating.

Cultivating is done with a machine called a cultivator. These machines, however, normally run on electricity and gas in comparison to the mechanical garden tiller machines.

Cultivators serve the purpose of running over the top of the soil a few more times in order to break it up even more. They will essentially grind the soil down to an even finer mixture to further aerate it.

They can also serve the purpose of stirring fertilizers and other organic materials into the soil instead of doing the same thing by hand. Although an electrical machine is not necessary to get it done, these convenient tools make the task of preparing for planting a garden much easier.

Electric cultivators are also able to weave through existing plants in order to get rid of harmful weeds without cutting through the actual crops. This is ideal for the maintenance of an existing garden once it has been successfully planted because the machine can be used to chop through weeds instead of pulling them out by hand.

Depending on the size and type of cultivator, as well as how big the garden will be, some cultivators can be attached to the back of a tractor for an even easier process.

This can be done with both two and four-wheel tractors, with the two-wheel tractor giving power to the tool internally through an attachment to the back of the vehicle, while the four-wheel tractor will most likely be pulling the machine along with no power connection and allowing it to rotate on its own.

Cultivators have depth adjustments to determine how deep they will dig into the soil, but these machines generally have more power than garden tillers. Although both of these machines serve different purposes, they can work together to help you speed along with the steps of starting a garden for the first time.

The average price of an electric cultivator can be anywhere from $100 to $200.

While it is true that mechanical and electrical garden tools are increasingly convenient and translate to less manual labor for the gardener, not everyone would like to make the investment into expensive equipment. Both of these tools are available in non-electrical forms, where the gardener can operate them manually similar to a shovel. The cost of a manual tiller is approximately $25 to $30, whereas you can purchase a manual cultivator for about $20.

If you will only be using these tools for a short amount of time, and they will most likely be sitting in your tool shed for long periods of time after the initial planting, it would be a smarter option to seek out a rental. This way, you can enjoy the convenience of an easy planting process without feeling like you’ve wasted money on expensive tools that will only be used occasionally.

Both mechanical garden tillers and electrical cultivators can be rented out for set periods of time. The going rate for a tiller machine rental is about $65 per day. Cultivators, on the other hand, can be rented for the price of approximately $50 per day, depending on a variety of factors.

The Supplies You Will Need To Plant a Vegetable Garden

In addition to the tools that you will need to physically prepare the land for a garden, you will also need the smaller items that go into actually planting it. These supplies include fresh soil, plant or vegetable seeds, gloves, and gardening beds if you choose to plant your garden in an elevated planter.

The amount of soil you will need for your garden will depend on a few things. First of all, you will need to decide if you will be planting your garden directly onto the ground or within a raised garden bed.

Raised garden beds are planter boxes with approximately 12 inches of elevation that will lift your garden off of the ground. These types of planters are increasingly beneficial, especially to beginning gardeners that have no experience with planting a garden.

The reasoning behind this statement is the fact that they require much less maintenance and are more protected from weeds and pests. Due to the plants and crops being higher off the ground, it is harder for bugs to crawl up the side and infect the plants.

Raised garden beds also have very effective levels of drainage, which helps them avoid over-watering and prevents the roots from rotting. As far as the low maintenance that comes with this type of planter, there is no need to continue till and cultivate the garden after the initial planting.

In fact, whenever any kind of fertilizer, mulch, or other organic growing materials need to be distributed across the garden, they can simply be sprinkled onto the top of the soil. There is no need to bring out the electric cultivator or to manually mix these nutrients into the soil at any time.

Since tillers and cultivators will commonly chop up weeds and their seeds as they pass over the soil, gardens located on the ground are more prone to frequent weeds. The seeds will be mixed up and hidden in the bottom of the soil and will sprout from the ground periodically throughout the garden’s lifetime.

This creates a tedious task for the gardener as well as the need for more maintenance time. More time spent taking care of weeds in the garden directly translates to more money spent on tools that make the task more convenient.

As far as saving money goes, choosing the option of planting your garden in a raised planter bed is much preferred over the alternative. This way, you will not need to invest in expensive tools or spend too much time taking care of your plants since they will basically be able to care for themselves.

The average price you can expect to spend on a raised garden bed will range anywhere from $50 to $2,000, depending on the size, material, and design. Raised garden beds with more modern and contemporary designs will cost more than the basic square planter with regular wood all around it. Similar to almost any other product you can buy, the price will increase with the aesthetic and quality of the planter.

If you would prefer to save even more money, you can opt to build your very own planter. This would require purchasing your own wood, and would make the most sense if you already have access to the tools that you would need to build it.

Otherwise, building your own could turn into a giant headache that might even end up costing more than just buying a pre-made frame. Without all the necessary tools included, you can build your own raised garden bed for an average cost of **.

To get back to the topic of the soil, which is one of the most important components of any garden, the amount you will need will be dependent on how large space is. If you have chosen to go with a raised garden bed, you will need to find out how much soil it can hold until the entire thing is filled.

Traditional gardens on the ground will require varying amounts of soil, and the number of bags you will need to purchase will depend on the length and width of the area. Wider areas of land will obviously require more bags of soil to adequately cover them, while more confined areas might only need a bag or two.

The average cost of a bag of soil is $5 to $10, which can be found at almost any local hardware or home improvement store. Depending on the size and measurements of your own individual garden, you should be able to reference these numbers in your calculations for how much your investment in the soil will cost.

Before planting seeds into the ground, or even beginning to prepare the soil in your garden for planting, you will need to purchase a sturdy pair of gardening gloves. Gardening gloves are absolutely necessary in order to protect the hands and fingertips from potential cuts, infections, and other injuries.

There are several different types of gloves to choose from, including cotton, leather, nitrile, latex, and rubber. Each of these gloves will require individual cleaning processes and are ideal for different tasks in a garden.

If you will be dealing with a lot of thorns or sharp pieces that exist in rose gardens, for example, you will probably want to go with a pair of leather gloves. If you will be completing tasks in your garden where your hands will come in contact with a lot of water, you should look into buying a pair of rubber gloves.

The average cost of a good quality pair of gardening gloves will vary between brands and materials, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $100. This can be a great investment that can last for most of your gardening journey, as long as you take proper care of them after each use.

The final item on your list of supplies for your new garden will be the seeds. Vegetable, flower, and any other kind of plant seeds will usually come in small packages similar to the size of a kool-aid packet and will be filled with tons of small seeds.

These packets can be found at almost any hardware or home improvement store that has a gardening section. The cost will vary between each type of plant, but they are all relatively inexpensive. In fact, you can purchase one packet of seeds for the average price of under $10.

In comparison to buying produce at the store one by one at an increased price, a lot of money can be saved with a vegetable garden if the gardener is willing to care for it and be patient.

In order to calculate the total investment you will put into the creation of your garden, you will need to consider all of the tools and supplies you will need to get started, as well as the recurring purchases you will need to make, such as gallons of water or replacement gloves, and how much it will cost to maintain your crops regularly.

After making the decision to purchase supplies to plant your own garden, the results of your investment can be very rewarding at the end of the entire process.

Whether you are planting a garden of flowers for aesthetic purposes, or a large vegetable garden to have access to fresh produce just a few steps away from your kitchen, the price tag of a home garden is well worth the price everything is done correctly.

Related Questions

How should gardening gloves be cleaned?

The process that each pair of gardening gloves will go through in order to be cleaned will depend on the material that they are made out of. Leather gloves will require a more thorough cleaning and maintenance process than almost any other type of glove.

Since leather can incur damages from too much water, they must be brushed off with a soft-bristled cleaning brush before they are wiped down with a damp cloth.

The damp towel or cloth should not have any excess water and will usually have a special saddle soap on the tip of it that is worked into the material of the glove. They will then be wiped off with a clean towel and air-dried before being treated with special conditioning oils.

Cotton gloves, on the other hand, are much easier to care for. Just like a cotton t-shirt, they can be tossed into the washing machine in your laundry room and air-dried on a clothing line. Rubber gloves will need to be thoroughly washed off with water and a dishwashing liquid, and air-dried in an open environment to avoid any molding or mildew formation.

Regardless of the type of glove, you have purchased for gardening, they will all need to be cleaned immediately after use to avoid staining or permanent stiffening that will affect their productivity.

How much water and sunlight does a garden need every day?

The amount of water and sunlight that a garden requires daily will depend on the type of plants or vegetables that are plotted within it. Each individual plant will need a different amount of sunlight in combination with specific levels of water every single day.

Both the minimum sunlight and water consumption levels for each plant will be indicated on the outside of the seed packets or external packaging. There are two main types of sunlight that will most likely be referred to in this section: full sun and partial sun, or partial shade.

Full sun refers to the times of the day where the sun is shining fully with no obstructions and is hitting the plants directly for several hours at a time. Partial sun, on the other hand, is when the light is dimmer, or there is a substantial amount of shade surrounding the plant at any given time throughout the day.

Contrary to popular belief, some types of plants are actually able to thrive in shaded areas of a garden. These plants include green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and lettuce, as well as root vegetables like radishes and onions.

Vegetables that are grown in the summer season such as peppers, squash, cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes will need increased amounts of the sun as well as water.

Just like each individual seed will require specific levels of sunlight throughout the day, they will also need certain amounts of water. It is very important to follow these instructions thoroughly for the best results in your garden. Some plants will need only one gallon of water per week or less, while others will need up to 2 gallons per week as an absolute minimum.

Before deciding on which seeds you will plant in your garden, you should always make sure that your yard will be able to provide a sufficient amount of water and sunlight for each plant.

How can I adequately plan out where my vegetable garden should be locatedin my yard?

Before a vegetable garden is planted, it is important to consider a few steps during the planning stages that will directly affect the success of your produce. One of the most important steps of this process is deciding how much sunlight each vegetable will need and where to place it in your garden in order to allow the plant to receive that exact amount of sunlight.

Along with the process of making sure your vegetables can adequately catch the minimum amounts of sunlight each day, it is important to be very careful where your garden is actually placed.

Even though some vegetables will thrive in the shade during most parts of the day, a garden should never be placed directly under a tree, or too close to it at all, for that matter.

The reasoning behind this theory is the fact that trees take in so much water and moisture from their roots that they will stretch deeply through the ground that surrounds them. This will become increasingly true the older the tree gets because the roots will be spread even further out from the trunk.

When planting a new vegetable garden next to an old tree that has been in taking all of the water in the area for several years, it will be hard for your new plants to receive all of the water they need. So, even though you might be able to grow lettuce in the shade that the big tree in your back yard provides daily, it would not be a good idea to start your garden in that exact area where the water and nutrients would be taken from the seeds you plant.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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