Start thinking about your garden now to save big before spring

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -  Would you like to have a garden now, or want to start your landscaping before spring arrives?

Many Hoosiers are in your shoes, but they're not sure where to start.  FOX59 consulted the experts at Allisonville Garden & Home in Fishers for some answers.  They have a garden designer to help you out, so you're not guessing.  It's a 45-minute consultation that's normally priced at $100, but it's half off until March first.

"So for $50, you'll bring your photographs in and our designer will help you plan your garden and then you don't waste money buying things you won't use.  You won't put paths in where they shouldn't go and you won't buy plants that go in the wrong place.  It's a real investment.  Sometimes you have to invest to stretch your dollar," said Sharon Hudden with Allisonville Nursery/Container Gardening.

The designer can also come to your home and check out your area firsthand, although that's more money.  After designing your area, you don't even have to worry about the weather because you can begin planting indoors. And when you do plant inside, you don't have to spend money on containers.

"For example, use a big drink cup to pot a plant, and then when it's time, transfer the plant to an outside pot or garden.  Just make sure to punch a hole in the bottom for water drainage.  Another idea is to use leftover toilet paper rolls.  Use them to grow seedlings.  Fill them with soil, and stand them up in a tray.  That's great because the roots will grow straight down into the dirt and the paper role will just dissolve when you re-plant them outside," said Hudden.

Our next tip is about growing your own herbs.  Grow them yourself, because they can be expensive to buy in a store.  They'll just need normal potting compost, moisture and sunlight. If you grow more than you need, share with neighbors.  You can keep planting more herbs in the same container. It's the same thing with vegetables.

Once weather permits, you can replant outside.  And in many cases, you end up with several plants from one.

People can also save money by buying small, because most plants can get big in no time.  A small plant is often a fraction of the cost of a full-grown one.  Trees are even less expensive when they're smaller.  Another garden investment that costs very little, but can really pay off, is a moisture meter for about $10.

"They are simple to use.  Stick the meter down into the soil.  Seconds later, it will indicate if the plant needs water, has too much, or is just right.  When you take the meter out, you wipe it off and use it on another plant.  We use them all the time in the nursery," said Hudden. "They really save on water because we're not putting water where it doesn't need to go.  And then we're not over-watering or under-watering, so they're a fantastic investment."

If you can, buy plants that are native to Indiana as they'll survive best.  Tropical plants may grow well in a nursery, but they don't fare well in Indiana weather.  And don't forget to label whatever you plant, so you don't forget what's what and where!