If being frugal in your garden purchases is a necessity, the tips below can help you save time and money without giving up the joy of gardening:
Install a drip system. Water is getting more expensive in the Southwest. With a drip system you pinpoint the delivery of water to each plant’s root zone. Little is lost to evaporation or runoff, making drip the gold standard for irrigation. Also, states, including Arizona, provide excellent guides for homeowners who want to install their own systems: Check out options here.
Jettison the prima donnas. Fussy plants that take a lot of watering, deadheading and soil amendments cost you time and money. Instead look to hardy succulents, which are long-lived and provide season after season of relatively carefree pleasure. Examples include red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), which sends up pink- to red-colored flower stalks at the beginning of summer. Other plants, such as beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris), also are good choices.
Choose economical seed. For about the cost of one froufrou topiary juniper—around $40 to $60 (and much cheaper—nigh on free—if you collect the seed yourself), you can plant an entire yard with seed. What’s more, sowing seed can look more natural and less contrived than a garden that is planned and plotted to the square inch. Some of the best wildflowers to grow from seed in the Southwest include brittlebush, California poppy, desert marigold, Mexican gold poppy, parry penstemon and globe mallow.