If there’s two things every successful gardener understands, it’s the importance of patience and timing when tending to their plants. The same holds true for every thrifty grower, or the thrifty shopper who’s on the hunt for the perfect gifts for gardeners this holiday season.

Here are some Black Friday shopping tips to keep in mind as you scour the web and local stores for last season’s markdowns and next season’s breakout products.

Discounts Follow a Predictable Schedule

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The cycles of retail and commerce are almost as seasonal as the sun and rain. For example, January is known among smart shoppers as the month of exercise product promotions, discounts on electronics, and white sales, a very short promotion with very steep price drops.

Lawn and garden products on the other hand? Those frosty prices don’t typically thaw until the spring.

But don’t worry about missing out on holiday deals on goodies for your garden. November and December are discount season for most things related to your landscaping and outdoor decor. Black Friday will still offer deals for the gardener, but look beyond what it advertised to see what else it discounted during that time. As a tip, outdoor lighting usually goes on sale in these seasons and while many are colorfully themed for Christmas, Hanukkah, or other winter holidays, some of these product are smart lights which allow you to change the color scheme. Buying holiday lights on the cheap in November through January could get you affordable outdoor lighting and ambiance for your garden all year round.

Late Harvest Deals

Since gardening products often overlap with items in the field of sustainability you might find great deals among the offerings of Fair Trade Sunday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving aimed at shopping with companies that focus on upholding fair trade standards.

If you look beyond big ticket items like lawnmowers or tools, Fair Trade Sunday sales are an opportunity to snag unconventional yard items like sophisticated compost bins, bird feeders, and even beekeeping kits. Then watch for online deals in conjunction with Cyber Monday, the Monday following Thanksgiving.

Shop Offseason

Discount season, also known as the offseason, is when merchants try to liquidate their inventory before restocking the shelves for the upcoming season. Just like the shelf life of plants in a nursery where fresh blooms are rotated in, regular retailers will offer steep price cuts to sell off the kinds of products and brands that release a new make or model in their product line each year.

Prices are also low because this isn’t a time of year that shoppers are typically focused on outdoor goods and as you know, lack of demand can have a deep impact on retail pricing.

For real green thumbs and penny-pinchers out there, seed trading communities are also a resource that’s fairly active this time of year. In exchange for often little to no money and some unused or wanted seeds of your own, you can buy the seeds of some of your most wanted plants, that may have otherwise been out of reach. If the idea of building up a seed bank and trading in nature’s currency is exciting to you, start filling your coffers now.

Hacks For Even Greater Savings

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Now that we’ve established that it’s the right time to be shopping for all your gardening wants, it’s time to look at tips to help you spend less.

Never Pay Full Price

It’s a rule that it easy enough to follow if you allow yourself a little bit of flexibility and some extra time in your hunt. What’s not discounted today may be discounted tomorrow or in a few months, and if you’re willing to build your next bird bath or gazebo instead of buying one, you could have even bigger savings.

Get the Emails

If you have a favorite online or local gardening supply store, sign up to receive their emails. You can set up a “junk” email account separate from your main account for this and other similar email. Many merchants offer special savings to those on their email list including personalized promo codes, free items, or free shipping which can actually really cut down on spending with large products for sale like raised bed gardens and other garden structure or building kits.

Head to the Clearance Section

In your local brick and mortar gardening supply store, head straight to the back of the department. This is where you’ll typically find the clearance items. During fall you will find summer items and as the holidays ramp up you may still find lawn and garden items in the markdown areas. Online stores also have clearance sections, typically at the top of each website. For example. www.Burpee.com and www.Gardeners.com both have a sale section in red font as an easy-to-find option. Florists and online shops that offer frozen or wax-preserved roses are also looking to clear their inventory after the last harvests of the season, which can make a striking or romantic addition to your other holiday gifts.

Discount Sites

Visit online discount sites. These are sites that offer limited inventory at a deeply discounted rate. While the selection is limited, you might find just what you’re looking for at a great price. Also check in with Groupon frequently, as they often have voucher you can purchase, such as $40 worth of merchandise for $20. They then send you the voucher code via email and you can use it immediately for your online purchase at the store.

Promo Codes

This goes along with never pay full price. There are discount codes all over the internet. If you know where to look you can often find discounts of 10%-30%. Arguably the most inclusive site is RetailmeNot, although they have changed their format some in recent years and not all discount codes are up to date. Start there and run a Google search for “XXX item promo code” and see what comes up. Also look around the site of the company you are ordering from. They often have a deals or discounts section that may list coupon codes. Even Amazon has this.

Consider Shipping

For online purchases, be sure to consider the cost of shipping when placing your order. A great deal can quickly become not so great with high shipping costs. On sites like Ebay and Amazon you can sort results by total cost so they factor in shipping for you. Also analyze the shipping time. If you are just buying something for next summer, it’s probably not a concern, but if you’re purchasing a gift make sure it will arrive in time. Also review the policies for returns so you don’t incur hefty fees when you ship something back.

Shop Slowly

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Online shopping has advantages and disadvantages. While it’s easier to locate specific items and find great deals, online retailers will do everything they can to attract or retain you as a customer. That means as soon as you enter your email address you’ll start receiving communications and they will likely solicit you frequently. The pro of this is that many merchants are so eager to get your business that they will offer you an instant discount, especially for first-time orders. Watch for pop-ups or a ticker along the top of the home page when shopping. There may be a promo code mentioned. Take advantage of the email offers, but send them to a junk account so you can find them when you need them but aren’t inundated daily. Lastly, take your time at checkout. If there is not a timer that threatens to empty your basket if you don’t complete your purchase within a specified time, wait several hours and up to a day before actually checking out. Very often merchants will have a pop up discount encouraging you to complete your order. Alternately, check your email as they will often send a code you can use for 10-20% off as enticement to place your order.

Earn Points or Cash Back

While you are shopping online, use some tools to your advantage. There are a number of online resources that allow you to collect points or earn cash back on purchases that you are making anyway. MyPoints is a site you click through when making purchases and, in return, earn points. Those points are then easily redeemed for gift cards down the road. It’s easy to use and free to join. Ebates is a leader in the online cashback realm. Simply download the app on your computer or phone. Click through Ebates when making an online purchase. A percentage of each purchase goes into your account and they send you a paper check three or four times each year.
The holidays are the perfect time of year to take advantage of discounts on gardening wants as well as necessities. Taking a little extra time to hunt down the best deal can net you significant savings for the upcoming season. Happy gardening and happy holidays!