If you are considering if gardening is a good hobby for you, but you are concerned about it being an expensive hobby, this post is for you.
In this post, you will learn precisely how much money you can expect to spend on gardening if you are just starting and how much it costs to maintain a garden once you have become a more advanced gardener.
Gardening does not have to be an expensive hobby, but it can be. When starting a garden, you should expect to spend between $40-$200. The price depends mostly on what you are growing and where since different plants require different conditions.
As with almost any other hobby, there is an initial investment when it comes to gardening. There are a couple of tools and supplies you absolutely need, but once you have acquired those, the cost of maintaining your garden is very low, and you do not have to go out and buy more tools before you become a more advanced gardener.
When you are just starting, gardening is usually an extremely affordable hobby, but as you are becoming a more advanced gardener, you probably want to grow many different plants, and some of them may require more specialized tools.
Below, I have made a table with prices for each of the gardening tools and supplies you need as a beginner, as well as several more advanced tools to give you the easiest overview of how much money you should expect to spend. After that, I have included a brief description of each item and some tips to help you determine if you need them.
How Much Does It Cost to Start Gardening?
Gardening does not have to be an expensive hobby. Especially not when you are first starting. As you get more advanced, however, the cost of gardening can easily increase, but it does not have to.
I have made a table to give you a complete overview of how expensive gardening is as a hobby and give advice about which tools and supplies you need from the beginning so you can know exactly how much you should expect to spend when starting.
I have included many gardening tools and supplies in the table below to give you a complete overview of what you should expect to spend as a beginner and as you get more advanced.
As a beginner, the only tools and supplies you absolutely need are in my opinion soil, seeds or plants, fertilizer, gardening gloves, pruning shears, a hand trowel, and a watering can or garden hose. You can get all of these for under $40. As you advance, some of the other items on the list can become relevant for you but in the beginning, this is all you need.
This table shows the price range for each of the items that are needed for both beginners and advanced gardeners.
|Soil||$1.75 – $12 (per US gallon/3.8 liters)|
|Seeds||$0.25 – $30 (for 100 seeds)|
|Plants||$1 – $50 (per plant)|
|Fertilizer||$5 – $100|
|Gardening gloves||$2 – $25|
|Pruning shears||$7 – $55|
|Hand trowel||$7 – $35|
|Watering can or garden hose||$12 – $70|
|Pots or containers||$0.10 – $60|
|Spade or shovel||$30 – $80|
|Rake||$15 – $65|
|Pruning saw||$11 – $80|
|Small hand fork||$8 – $25|
|Large garden fork||$35 – $70|
|Hoe||$15 – $100|
|Loppers||$20 – $100|
|Weeder||$15 – $50|
|Wheelbarrow||$40 – $200|
All of these things can be found in many places including Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, and in most garden centers and plant nurseries.
I always like to buy my gardening supplies and tools at garden centers or plant nurseries since the people working there are usually more specialized and know much more about the items and how to use and take care of them.
The price of some of the items can vary a lot but if you are just starting, you can safely assume that the prices will be around the lower numbers from the table below. The higher numbers are generally for more advanced gardeners as some of the tools and supplies can support requirements that only make sense for more advanced gardeners with very specific needs.
Below, I explain what each of the items in the table above is used for and whether it makes sense for you to get them when starting out or not.
The soil your plants are growing in can make the difference between a failed harvest and a homegrown feast that lasts for months. Your garden soil should be made up of the right components and contain the right nutrients for your plants to grow well.
The soil in your garden may already be well-suited for growing garden plants and if that is the case for you, there is no need to spend any money. If that is not the case, you can mix some garden soil mix into the top layer of your soil and apply a top layer of mulch.
If you are growing your plants in containers or pots, a simple potting mix usually works really well in my experience and does not have to cost more than a few dollars per gallon.
Seeds and Plants
One of the first things you have to decide when it comes to gardening is whether you want to grow your plants from seeds or just buy young plants that you can transplant directly into the ground or to a pot.
Growing from seed is significantly cheaper than buying young plants but also takes longer and has a higher risk of failing. Seeds can be bought for as little as $0.25 for 100 depending on the variety. Young plants usually cost between $5-$50 at garden centers or nurseries depending on the variety.
One trick you can use to essentially make this completely free is to harvest and use your own seeds. Once you have a plant that is growing, producing, and finally flowering and producing seeds, you can harvest the seeds and store them in a dry place. If stored properly, the seeds can last for a few years (again, depending on the variety) and essentially provide you with free plants forever if you just keep harvesting seeds once in a while.
You can also save seeds from vegetables or fruits you buy at grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Just pick the seeds from the vegetable or fruit, place them on some dry kitchen paper or similar for a week or two until they are completely dry and then store them in a dry container.
It is always easier to start with a young plant than a seed and most of the popular garden plants such as tomatoes, peppers, chilis, and herbs usually cost between $2-$5 per plant so this solution can definitely also be used without breaking the bank.
I personally like to grow plants from seeds but I also often buy young plants at a garden center or plant nursery since I tend to get tempted when I am there.
Some plants don’t need much fertilizer if any. An example of such a plant is rosemary which will usually grow very well without any fertilizer. As a general rule, however, it is often a great idea to use fertilizer for your garden plants.
Fertilizer is one of the best investments you can make for your garden and it can cost as little as $5. Most garden plants benefit tremendously from fertilizer so spending a few dollars on it will result in healthier plants that grow bigger and produce much more fruit.
You can get some very decent all-around fertilizers that work very well for most plants. These usually cost no more than $5-$20, even for organic fertilizers which I always use and recommend myself. Fertilizers like that basically pay for themselves by boosting your harvest.
Fertilizers can also be extremely specialized. Some of them are made specifically for certain varieties of plants and contain the exact nutrients those plants need. These fertilizers can often be more expensive than the all-around fertilizers and be less efficient for many of your plants, although the plants they are made for will absolutely love them.
If you are a beginner, I recommend just going with an organic all-around fertilizer that you mix with the water every 2-4 weeks.
Gardening gloves may not seem essential when you first start gardening and while that may technically be true, I cannot recommend getting a good pair of gardening gloves highly enough.
Gardening gloves protect your hands and can prevent injuries when working with soil, tools, and certain plants. There are several types of gardening gloves so finding some that you like is easy. They can cost as little as $2 although some that cost $10-$20 may provide better protection.
Some people do not like to use gardening gloves as they can inhibit your hand and finger movement. This does not have to be the case, however, as you can get some gardening gloves that fit your hand tightly and protect without inhibiting movement. I personally use and like gardening gloves that are a bit tight since it makes it easier to handle small, delicate plants and parts.
Now that we have covered a couple of things that are needed for gardening, it is time to look at some tools. If I could only pick one gardening tool, pruning shears would without a doubt be it. The price of pruning shears can vary a lot but there is absolutely no need to overspend. Some cheap pruning shears can work just fine.
Pruning shears are essential for every gardener as they allow you to easily prune and trim plants as well as remove unwanted growth easily and cleanly. The price for pruning shears can be anywhere between $7-$55 or even more depending on how advanced they should be.
When it comes to pruning shears, I believe in simplicity and quality. I have tried several that were supposed to be great but in reality, were just annoying to use because they were so complicated. So find one that feels good in your hand and you will be fine.
Despite being perhaps the simplest garden tool I own, the two hand trowels in the image below are probably my favorite tools (together with the pruning shears from above). Hand trowels are versatile and can be used for digging, mixing soil, transplanting, and much more.
A good hand trowel is an essential tool for gardeners at any level. They can make many tasks much easier and more efficient so at prices as low as $7, getting a good hand trowel is definitely worth it.
I have owned hand trowels that were just not good enough and seen in retrospect, I could have easily known that from the beginning. They were just not strong enough to dig properly so when you buy a hand trowel, just make sure it is strong enough. It does not have to cost a lot.
Watering Can and Garden Hose
Like yourself, your plants are going to need water and the easiest way you can supply your plants with water is with a watering can or a garden hose.
Watering cans are generally cheaper than garden hoses, but they are also heavier to carry and you will likely have to refill them several times. You can buy a good watering can for around $12 and a garden hose for around $20.
I personally use a garden hose with an adjustable hose nozzle (the one in the photo) most of the time, but when I want to give my plants some fertilizer, I use some organic, liquid fertilizer that I mix in the water so, for that, I use a watering can.
It is important to mention that a garden hose only makes sense if you have somewhere to attach it not too far from your plants.
Pots and Containers
If you are planning on growing your plants indoors or just want to add some potted plants to your garden, you need some pots or containers.
The cheapest solution for growing plants in pots is to get some plastic pots from Amazon or similar. You can get 100 of them for about $10. A more aesthetically pleasing solution is to buy terracotta pots at about $4 each.
In addition to growing some plants directly in the ground, I love to grow plants in pots. Over time, I have learned that what works best are some very basic terracotta pots. They generally have excellent drainage, and they provide the soil and roots with sufficient air.
I generally like to buy my garden supplies at small plant nurseries, and I encourage you to do so as well. Going there and actually talking to the people who work there is always a good experience and they are usually extremely knowledgeable about the products they sell so it is a great opportunity to ask questions and learn.
You can buy good pots in many places though but I recommend trying some terracotta pots since they just seem to work better than other types. At least in my experience.
You can also find some fancy self-watering pots on Amazon (and many other places) if you think that sounds fun, but I would also encourage you to try some regular, non-self-watering pots since learning when and how to water various plants is an essential skill for a gardener.
Spade and Shovel
It might make sense for you to get a spade or a shovel right away, depending on what you are planning on doing with your garden. You can get very far with a hand trowel but since they are best suited for very small tasks, a spade or shovel can make many tasks much easier and faster.
Spades and shovels of good quality generally cost between $30-$80. Using a good spade or shovel can save you significant amounts of time if you need to dig trenches, large holes, or move large amounts of soil.
Spades and shovels look very similar and while one can generally be used instead of the other without too much trouble, they actually serve slightly different purposes.
Spades are generally made for digging and cutting into soil, for instance when you need to dig a trench. Shovels are generally made for lifting and moving soil and other materials.
A rake can make your life so much easier when you need to collect fallen leaves or something similar, but I wouldn’t say it is necessary from the beginning unless you already have trees or large bushes in your garden.
You can get a decent rake for your garden for as little as $15. Using a rake is the easiest and fastest way to clean up your garden by removing fallen leaves, grass, or other organic material.
If you have a lot of leaves, grass, or similar that you want to remove, a rake is the cheapest, and in my opinion easiest, way to do it. If you are just starting and you don’t have anything growing yet, there is no reason to buy a rake yet though.
When you are growing trees or other large plants with thick, strong stems or branches, your pruning shears will no longer be big or strong enough, so you need something else. This is where a pruning saw becomes relevant.
The price for pruning saws begins around $11 and goes up to around $80 depending on the brand, quality, and functionality. Pruning saws are used to remove branches from trees and other plants where pruning shears are not big enough.
When you are just starting, it probably does not make sense for you to get a pruning saw, although if you have some trees in your garden and want to remove some of the branches, a pruning saw is an excellent and inexpensive tool for that.
Small Hand Fork
Although I do not use it very often, my hand fork really comes in handy once in a while and is especially useful when I need to break up, loosen, or mix soil. It can also work quite well for removing weeds although there are other tools called weeders that are better suited for that. I will talk about weeders a bit later in this post.
You can get a decent hand fork by itself for as little as $8 but they are also often sold in sets with a few other small, basic gardening tools which can make the price even lower.
If you are just getting into gardening, you probably don’t need a hand fork to be honest, but it can be a really nice tool to have later on.
Large Garden Fork
We’re slowly getting more and more into what I would categorize as “more advanced gardening tools” that you probably don’t need to get if you are just starting. A garden fork is used for loosening and turning soil and is an easy way to provide your soil with more air.
Good garden forks generally cost between $30-$70. They can make certain tasks such as loosening soil much more efficient, so while they are an investment that may not be essential, they can save you a lot of time.
While it sometimes makes a lot of sense to loosen and turn your soil over, it is actually often recommended not to do so because it disturbs whatever life is in the soil. Earthworms are a great example. Earthworms will loosen your soil while also providing it with excellent, natural, and organic fertilizer.
So instead of using a garden fork to loosen the soil in your garden, it is usually better to let earthworms and other small animals do it for you. I have written another post that goes much more in-depth with when and why you should not loosen the soil in your garden and how you can attract a lot of earthworms to your garden if you do not already have some. You can find that post on this link.
Like some of the other gardening tools I have covered in this post, a hoe can also be used to break up and loosen soil but it can also be used to chop up plants and roots and is excellent for removing unwanted growth.
The price range for gardening hoes is quite wide with the cheaper ones costing around $15 and the more expensive ones costing up to $100. They can make tasks involving the removal of weeds and other unwanted growth more efficient.
While gardening hoes can make certain tasks much easier, I do not think it makes much sense to buy one from the beginning. You can easily get started with gardening without a hoe but as you are getting more advanced, it will likely become relevant at some point. Until that point though, I don’t think it is worth it to get one.
Pruning shears are perfect for pruning small plants with small twigs and branches and a pruning saw is the way to go if you want to remove thick branches from trees. But what about those twigs and smaller branches that are just too large for the pruning shears but too small for the saw? That is where loppers come into play.
Loppers are essentially like stronger pruning shears with a longer handle. They are significantly stronger than regular pruning shears, so they are perfect for trimming or pruning bushes or removing smaller branches from trees.
Good loppers can cost anywhere between $20-$100 depending on the brand, quality, and functionality. They are perfect for pruning bushes or trees with thin branches.
If you are just starting and you don’t have anything growing yet, it does not make sense to buy loppers yet. If you have some trees or bushes, however, I think you would like a pair of loppers since they make pruning and trimming much easier.
I have known about weeders for a long time but I never really found them necessary so I did not really become familiar with them until fairly recently when I started using them. Now I definitely see why people like them since they actually do make removing weeds and other unwanted growth much easier.
A simple but good-quality weeder can cost as little as $15. Weeds can usually be removed without too much trouble but using a weeder will make the task both faster and easier while usually removing more of the roots than you could without a weeder.
As you can see in the photo above, there is more than one type of weeder but in my experience, the ones that look like the bottom one in the photo are easier to use although you have to crouch every time you find something to remove. The larger one can be used while standing up.
A wheelbarrow only really becomes relevant when you have to carry or move a lot of soil or plants at the same time. If you are at a stage where you have to do that though, a wheelbarrow is one of the best things you can buy for yourself.
You can get a decent wheelbarrow for around $40. Having a wheelbarrow can save you a lot of time by allowing you to move much larger quantities of soil or other supplies much faster and more easily than otherwise.
There is a big difference in the quality and durability of wheelbarrows so before you get one, make sure you read or ask about how much weight it supports. If you are going to use it to move some garden tools or some cuttings after pruning your plants, you probably don’t need a wheelbarrow that supports as much weight as if you are going to use it for carrying soil, rocks, or similar.
In Conclusion: Is Gardening an Expensive Hobby?
With all the gardening tools and supplies that I have covered in this post, it may seem like you need to spend a lot of money to even get started, but keep in mind that you do not need to get everything from this post at all.
You can get started with gardening for less than $40 but as you become more advanced, the tools tend to become more expensive. When you are just starting, the only tools and supplies you need are pruning shears, a hand trowel, soil, seeds or plants, fertilizer, gardening gloves, and a watering can or garden hose.
When answering the question “is gardening an expensive hobby?“, it is important to fully understand what you get from gardening.
Sure, there is an initial investment in the form of some supplies and tools but if you make sure to buy some good quality tools, they will last you for many years and you can easily get excellent tools without spending a lot of money.
Once you have some good tools and the supplies you need, there is virtually no additional cost other than the water you use.
Gardening can be an extremely low-cost hobby once you have the tools you need. Growing your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs is significantly cheaper than buying them and the quality of the products is usually much higher. Saving and using your own seeds rather than buying seeds or plants can make gardening very cheap.
In addition to saving money on vegetables, fruits, and herbs, gardening is a great way of getting free exercise and the feeling of harvesting something you planted and took care of is just great.
In addition to saving you money over time and being a fun way of getting exercise, homegrown plants just taste so much better than store-bought plants, so I highly recommend that you give it a try.