I began planning this post with the intention of talking about the importance of planning a garden. After typing and typing I realized that this is a subject so large that it really needed to be broken down into smaller sections. One of the first things I like to do to plan out my projects, gardens and plantings is to make a list! Just consider this Dave's take on garden list making or even Garden List Making 101!
Why make a list? For me it helps me to organize my thoughts and ideas. I can start as broad as I want to and write down everything I can think of or be fairly narrow and specific.
How does making a list save you money? First think of the different kinds of lists you can make that are related to your garden and you will see how they can be used to organize your garden budget.
The List of Plants I Want
This is a fun list to make. I just go through the garden catalogs either the physical ones that come through the mail or online and select anything I might want in my garden in the future. Then I can easily break the list down into smaller chunks based on plant type, color or garden location. Then when I see the plant at a discount, on sale, or at a plant swap (there's a Thrifty Gardening Tip for another time!) I can pick it up at that reduced rate.
The List of Plants I Have
This could be a very helpful list to prevent buying the same plant again. Of course you may want that same plant again and this list will ensure that you can find and match the same name. Or you could just buy one and propagate the rest (you can bet that topic will be a future tip)! I recommend writing down the botanical name and the cultivar name on the list. The botanical name is by far more important since often there can be several variety names.
The What Worked and What Didn't List
Gardeners experiment with new plants often, it's just a gardening fact of life! Keep track of those plants that did well and you can use them again but also keep track of those that failed or did poorly so that you will remember and can prevent history from repeating itself!
The List of Gardens and Plants
This list has all of the plants from each garden area in the yard. If you find a compatible plant that would work well in that garden you can add it to your collection. It is also helpful if you notate the amount of sun and shade that the garden gets.
The Future Project List
I made a short project list just the other day. This list not only helps to stay organized but can aid in mapping out the cost of the projects. Once you know the project cost then you can fit it into your budget.
The Consolidated List
The first four lists could easily be consolidated into one great big garden list perfect for your garden notebook. Just take the elements you feel are important and write them down in a spreadsheet type format (or use the spreadsheet program on your computer).
Here's an example of a list I might put together for my Birdbath Garden.
I could have added many more categories for the table but this might be a good way to chart the success of certain plants in different parts of the garden. If I were to use a spreadsheet I would be able to sort each category, which would be a major advantage!
By making lists you enable yourself to have the best information of what your garden is, what it wasn't, and what it will be. If you follow your lists, you will save money. But making lists will only work if you stick to it. That doesn't mean that you can't spontaneously buy a new plant every now and then, but the lists could aid you in the decision process.
For more tips on how to garden on a budget visit these other Thrifty Gardening Tip posts!
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1: Buying and Saving Discount Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 1 Follow Up: Buying and Saving Discount Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 2: The Generosity of Gardeners
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 3: Save Gas, Only Mow Where You Go
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 4: Think Small Plants
Thrifty Gardening Tips Part 5: Make Compost