Change the look of your garden at no cost at all

Landscaping doesn’t have to be expensive. That’s what Fred and Kit Fulton discovered when they planted the slope at their home near Waldport, Oregon. Every plant got its start from cuttings, seedlings, or divisions. Cost: next to nothing. “We call it our salvage garden,” Kit says of the colorful tapestry. All the plants started somewhere else, either in another part of their yard or in friends’ gardens. The palette includes daylilies, hardy fuchsias, heather, santolina, lavender, rosemary, and sage, plus showy accents like canna, hydrangeas, and roses. To landscape as inexpensively as the Fultons did, follow the tips below this month. (In cold climates, wait until spring.)


Kit often starts plants with stem cuttings that she removes when she prunes plants like fuchsias. She dips the stem ends in rooting hormone (available at garden centers), sticks the stems in small containers filled with potting mix, and waters them, then puts the potted cuttings in a greenhouse and waters them regularly. Most cuttings will root on a windowsill too, especially if you keep the humidity high.


Many plants self-sow freely. The Fultons let existing plants drop their seeds, allow seeds to germinate and grow in place, then lift the seedlings when they have two sets of true leaves, replanting them elsewhere in the yard. Their successes include Verbena bonariensis, lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris).


Plants that form clumps―such as canna, daylily, New Zealand flax, and Siberian iris―are candidates for division. Using a sharp shovel, Fred loosens the soil around the overgrown clump, digging 6 to 12 inches beyond the plant’s perimeter. He teases apart rooted clumps of plants like Japanese iris and agapanthus; he pulls or cuts apart others. Then he replants the divisions elsewhere.

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