April showers bring…well you know the rest. Yes, it’s that time of year when those of us with green thumbs feel the itch to get our hands dirty. That explains why April is National Garden Month, when we celebrate all things green.
Normally, I would hit local gardening centers for seeds and supplies, but last year I learned it’s actually often cheaper and easier to shop online. There’s also usually a larger selection from which to choose and I saved money using online coupons.
1. Seeds and Bulbs
I used to pour over seed catalogs, beginning in late December. But I’ve recently learned it’s a lot easier to use merchant search engines to find exactly what I want. For example, Burpee.com has sections dedicated to “New for 2012″ and “Customer Favorites” that make shopping a snap. Plus, their website provides more information on each variety than can be packed into a print catalog.
2. Bigger Plants
The pickings are kind of slim for bushes and trees at my local gardening center, but online merchants offer larger selections at decent prices. Last year I bought a tree from ChristmasTreesGalore.comso I won’t have to buy expensive trees each year. This online merchant also frequently offers free shipping on all purchases to bring down that “ca-ching” at checkout.
3. Large Equipment
If you don’t have a Home Depot in your area, check out their online offerings of everything from chainsaws to riding mowers, as well as smaller implements. In addition to ongoing ship-to-store service, you can find an online coupon for Home Depot from FreeShipping.org for $10 off orders of $100 or more.
AceHardware.com is my favorite place to buy bug sprays and other gardening chemicals. Their selection is large and they offer organic products.The Ace Hardware website has plenty of information about each product, so you never have to hunt down an in-store clerk. Best of all, they provide ship-to-store service, so I can avoid paying shipping fees.
Gardens Alive! all-things organic, including hard-to-find products like mole repellents and worm composting systems, in addition to the normal stuff. Each item page has lots of information, so I know what I’m getting before ordering.
Last year I began taking backyard decorating seriously and put in a fountain, statue and trellises that really changed the entire look of my yard. I bought nearly everything online, so my garden is unique to the neighborhood. While I was at it, I pepped up my porch with a swing from PorchSwings.com. Even though I bought a metal swing that was super heavy, they provided free shipping plus a discount that helped me save even more.
7. Everything Else
Of course, good old reliable Amazon.com always has a wide selection of everything from fountains to statuary. You might also check out eBay for some second hand or even new items at great prices, but remember to research whether the seller will cover shipping costs.
Kate Forgach is a Baby Boomer consumer specialist for Kinoli Inc. She has written about senior issues for 11 years as a Cooperative Extension specialist and for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines. She has been featured in USA Today, Detroit News, New Orleans Times-Picayune, New Yorker magazine, “ABC World News,” NBC’s “TODAY” show and many other media outlets.