How To Save Money at the Nursery

Follow these tips to save a little green when buying plants for a landscaping job.
Related To:


Bringing home healthy plants will make your garden look better and make your gardening experience more enjoyable. (SHNS photo courtesy Joe Lamp'l)

Do your shopping in the fall. A lot of nurseries offer deep discounts in fall months, and fall is a great time of the year to plant trees.

Look for bare root trees. Generally these trees are the best value. They can be planted only when the tree is dormant in the late winter or early spring. The one catch to bare root trees is that the selection is sometimes limited.

Consider joining the National Arbor Day Foundation. A membership costs much less than any tree you'll find at a nursery and you'll get 10 free trees to plant in your yard.

Newly planted trees all need regular watering to establish good roots. A rule of thumb is five to 15 gallons, depending on the size of the tree, about every 10 days. Young trees can be fertilized with a slow-acting granular fertilizer six months after they're planted, then again every spring until they reach 20 feet tall. After that, organic mulch will provide all the nutrients they need.

On the Japanese Stewartia, you can look forward to peeling bark when the branches are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. This tree does well in the sun, but if you live in a warmer climate, it will perform better with a bit of shade. Be warned this tree is a little difficult to establish, so don't move it once it's planted.

The American Yellowwood tends to flower every other year so don't be worried if you don't see many blooms on it the first couple of years. Walter likes this tree because the limbs grow low and densely, making a good screen, even in winter. Prune it in summer because winter and spring cuts tend to bleed more.

The Carolina Silverbell prefers acidic soil. Without it, the leaves may turn yellow. Be sure to add soil conditioner or peat moss when you plant so it will be happy in the future. If you'd like to underplant the Silverbell, Rhododendrons are a logical choice because they are acid lovers, too.

The Fat Albert Colorado Spruce can be pruned to maintain shape and height. It likes a general-purpose landscape fertilizer before new growth begins each spring.

The Fat Albert Spruce was the most expensive at $275 but it was already big, mature tree. Two others carried price tags of more than $200. The Lacebark Elm cost $225 and the Yellowwood cost $215. They were both less massive trees.

You can expect to pay less for smaller trees like the Stewartia. It was just $94. The least expensive was the Carolina Silverbell at just $81 since we found it on sale.

Plant prices may vary by zone.

Next Up

Size Matters in Plants

The size of the plants you buy depends on the type of landscape you want to produce.

Choose the Best Small Trees

Well-behaved trees that won't take over your yard -- or your neighbor's.

Selecting Trees and Shrubs

A gardening expert explains what to look for and what to avoid when buying trees and shrubs from a nursery.

10 Landscaping Plants

Learn about the characteristics of popular plants for landscaping projects, along with tips for their care.

Tree Shopping List

Learn about several tree varieties and the planting information for each zone.

Plants Around a Firepit

Landscape the area around a firepit with plants that add texture and complement the colors of the fire.

The Right Shrub for the Job

Choosing the right shrubs for your yard or garden can be a frustrating process. Get started with these useful tips.

5 Smart Money-Saving Landscaping Ideas

Get your gardening fix without breaking the bank.

Planting a Tree Can Make You Healthier and Wealthier

Find out how trees make your life better, then go out and plant at least one this weekend.

Alternative Siding Options

Take a closer look at a few alternative siding options, all of which will help ease the burden on your wallet.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.