Budget garden ideas: 15 cheap and easy ways to make your garden look nice on a budget

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  • These budget garden ideas will have your backyard ship shape and ready for visitors in no time…

    With the weather getting warmer and Summer on the horizon, many of us will be looking forward to getting out in our gardens. Cue sunbathing, summer barbecues on the patio and some over-excited kids in paddling pools.

    Like our homes, gardens need some extra care and attention from time to time. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly (and cheaply) you can transform your outdoor space with our simple suggestions.

    From laying grass seed to a quick lick of paint, or getting the kids to help grow plants, we’ve pulled together plenty of expert recommended tips that can be copied by even the most amateur of gardeners.

    15 budget garden ideas to make your garden look nice:

    1. Fill with flowers

    It might sound obvious, but flowers are one of the easiest and cheapest budget garden ideas to improve your garden. Taking the time to plant seeds, bulbs or ready-bought bedding plants into pots or flower beds, will certainly pay off.

    A woman planting some flowers as one of our budget garden ideas

    Credit: Getty

    You can pick up flowers like Pansies, Violas and Chrysanthemums for as little as a pound. They have the potential to flower again the following year too, if you give them the right care and keep them away from frost. They’re also pretty immediate, whereas seeds and bulbs will require a little bit more patience and forward-planning.

    Flowers like Petunias, Nigellas and Sunflowers can bloom in about 60 days. Whilst bulbs like Daffodils and Tulips will bloom in early spring and should be planted in Autumn.

    It’s highly recommended you follow instructions on each plant label or seed packet, with each flower needing a different type of care.

    Dahlia ball-type mixed flower bulb, £5 from B&Q 

    2. Plant some produce

    Fruit, vegetables and herbs are three other (tasty) things you can grow in your garden.

    Laurie Sgroi, Head of Operations at HOS Landscapes,  tells us that growing veg is cost-effective and achievable in even the smallest of spaces.

    A watering can with some garden grown vegetables as part of our budget garden ideas

    Credit: Getty

    “You don’t need an allotment or a huge garden to grow your own veg. Lots of edible plants will be more than happy in old pots,” he says. “Tomatoes, herbs, salad leaves, even courgettes and squash will thrive during the summer in large pots filled with compost given they don’t dry out. Perfect for a balcony or a garden without much planting space.”

    Thrifty veg growers often use leftover food waste to get their garden produce. Seeds discarded from chillies and sweet peppers can be kept, planted and potted in fresh compost. They’ll grow beautifully in warm weather when watered regularly.

    Supermarket-bought basil or coriander plants can also be given a new lease of life if repotted and efficiently watered.

    Fruit and vegetables are seasonal foods and will only grow at certain times of the year. To get an idea of when next to plant and harvest your produce, we recommend swatting up on Miracle-Gro’s vegetable planting calendar.

    Tomato Gardeners Delight Fruit Seeds, £2.15 from Homebase

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    3. Perk it up with pots

    Extra attention should be given to what you plant your flowers and veggies in, with plant pots another of our budget garden ideas that will smarten up your space.

    “A very easy way to change the overall style of your garden is outdoor pots,” says Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director at Dobbies Garden Centres. “These can often be an afterthought to the plants and flowers that will live inside them but can make a huge difference to lift a space very quickly.”

    Blue plant pots containing green plants fixed on a white panelled wall

    Credit: Getty

    Plant pots are relatively cheap investments and is another way you can introduce colour.

    “For a country garden feel, use terracotta, stone and soft neutrals, as these will all make greenery really pop,” adds Marcus. “A laid-back coastal theme can be created with metal and navy-blue pots or add a vibrant exotic vibe with sunshine yellow and cherry reds.”

    Another cheap plant pot hack is to use and recycle leftover aluminium tins. These tins make a great home for growing herbs and can be elevated with a lick of paint.

    Heritage Planter in Blue 30cm, £9.45 from Homebase

    4. Look after your lawn

    It’s safe to say that the majority of homeowners overlook their lawn. Yet a little extra attention and TLC can really make the grass in your garden sing.

    A lush green lawn is often the result of regular mowing, watering and specially scattered seeds.

    Close up of a man mowing his lawn

    Credit: Getty

    The rule with lawn mowing is generally the more you mow it the better. Experts also mow their lawns in both directions, which is the secret to a more polished finish.

    In terms of watering your lawn, mature grass should be watered once a week during June to September. (Though this is also dependent on rainfall). Watering before noon is advised, allowing the grass to dry before evening. Less watering is required in spring and autumn, and you can get away with not watering it all in winter.

    Lawn seeds or grass food is an additional way to lift lack-lustre lawns and is both incredibly easy and cheap to do, says Kate Turner, gardening guru at Miracle-Gro.

    “Raking your lawn may reveal some bare patches in need of attention,” she tells us. “Lightly fork over the patch and sprinkle over some topsoil or compost. Following pack instructions, scatter over the grass seed and finally cover the seed with a light sprinkling of compost.  Water sparingly with a watering can.”

    Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food, £4.49 from Amazon

    5. Get rid of weeds

    You’ll thank yourself for taking ten minutes to get rid of unruly weeds in your garden. It’ll tidy the space up considerably.

    Close-up of a hand weeding - one of our budget garden ideas

    Credit: Getty

    You can follow the old-fashioned method and pull them out yourself. But if weeds are scattered all over your garden, you might want to save yourself the physical effort and try one of these weed-killer recipes:

    • Vinegar – Banish weeds and dandelions by pouring pure white or apple cider vinegar on them. Perfect for getting rid of weeds sprouting around your patio or in awkward cracks.
    • Vodka – mix 30ml of vodka with 2 drops of washing up liquid or hand soap and add water. Mix together and spray on stubborn weeds in direct sunlight. The alcohol in this concoction will break down the weed’s waxy cuticles causing them to dehydrate and die.
    • Mulch – organic-made mulch from things like grass or bark clippings, leaves or straw can be generously applied on top of weeds. They stop the weed’s source of sunlight preventing them from sprouting.
    • ROUNDUP NL Weed Control – This tried and tested weed-killer is natural and Glyphosate-Free, with visible results in three hours.

    Roundup Naturals Glyphosate-Free Powerful Weed Killer – 1 Litre, £4.00 from Amazon

    6. Reupholster, repaint, rejuvenate

    Reclaim old garden furniture, fences and sheds with a fresh coat of paint.

    “Neutral colours like whites or creams will lift a dull area and create a sense of space,” says Marcus Eyles of Dobbies Garden Centres. “Perfect for shady gardens, plants and flowers will pop against a white backdrop.”

    green garden furniture in a small garden.

    Credit: Getty

    Of course, white is just one colour you could choose. Don’t be afraid to go bold to make a dramatic garden impact.

    We recommend using garden paint instead of your average tub of paint, as it will provide some weather protection, adding some longevity to your painting efforts.

    7. Clean your patio

    Arguably one of our cheapest budget garden ideas – sometimes all your garden needs is a simple spring clean.

    If you’ve got a concrete patio, give it a really good clean with a hose or bucket of soapy water and scrubbing brush or a good-quality broom.

    An English garden with patio

    Credit: Getty

    If the dirt refuses to budge, you might want to hire a steam cleaning machine or borrow a friend’s pressure washer to shift it. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes without all the muck.

    Ronseal Garden Patio Cleaner Fungicidal Wash 5L, £6.47 from B&Q

    8. Add a water feature

    You don’t necessarily need to break the bank to add a water feature to your garden.

    Keep it simple with a bird bath or if you’re up to the challenge try adding a pond. It’s surprisingly cost-effective and can be assembled by even the shyest of DIYers.

    “Creating a natural pond is one of the best things you can do for your local wildlife. A pond can be any size, even as small as an old bucket, so they’ll fit in most gardens,” says Laurie Sgroi of HOS Landscapes.

    For those seeking a simple, quirky look, consider burying a salvaged bath-tub or sink. Though you could also take pride from creating your own pond.

    “If digging your own you’ll need a pond liner, which are cheap and sold at most garden centres,” says Laurie. “Remove any sharp stones from your hole and lay the pond liner in then fill with water. Dig a small trench around the outside and tuck the liner into it.

    “Then plant around the outside or lay large stones around the perimeter to hide the liner. Make sure wildlife can access the pond, you could use a plank of wood or create a sloped pebble ‘beach’.”

    There’s no doubt that kids will love catching the wildlife that ponds attract.

    “Frogs, birds and dragonflies will be among the frequent visitors,” adds Laurie.

    Hozelock Pond Liner 2M, £20.50 from B&Q

    9. Light it up

    Enjoy your garden after dark with one of our bright, budget garden ideas: lights.

    Candles, lanterns, fairy lights and solar-powered lamps can be cheaply found online and in-stores and will add a lovely glow to your garden.

    Budget garden ideas - add lights and lanterns

    Credit: Getty

    Arrange a few lanterns artfully on your patio or wrap some fairy lights around a focal tree or plant. Pretty and practical, you’ll thank yourself for investing when those long barbecue lunches carry on into the evening.

    Black Solar-powered Integrated LED Outdoor Lantern, £16 from B&Q

    10. Build a bug hotel

    A bug hotel is a genius budget garden idea that can be constructed with help from some curious little helpers. Kids will love getting their hands dirty and seeing their hard work pay off when the habitat is buzzing with wildlife.

    A bug garden is one of our budget garden ideas

    Credit: Waitrose

    “You’ll need to make a small wooden box open on at least one side, or if you’ve got the room you can stack up some pallets,” says Laurie. “Loosely fill the gaps with natural garden materials such as bricks, logs, moss, dry leaves and broken pots or patio slabs

    “Most bugs prefer a dry home so situate it somewhere sheltered , or you could create a ‘living roof’ by digging up a patch of turf and laying it on top of the hotel.”

    11. Home-made hanging baskets

    Hanging baskets are a great way to add flowers if you’re short on space. They’re also incredibly budget-friendly with the basket, liner and wall bracket costing about £10 in total.

    hanging baskets are one of our budget garden ideas

    Credit: Getty

    Balance your basket, add your liner and fill with soil. Then decoratively arrange your flowers in the baskets, making sure they’re equally distributed around the whole basket.

    Hanging baskets are best prepared around late April or early May with bedding plants blooming beautifully in the summer. Be sure to water regularly and place in a sunny spot.

    Hanging basket rattan 35cm, £4.95 from Homebase

    12. Consider climbing plants

    Reach new heights in your garden renovation with climbing plants, one of our favourite budget garden ideas. They’ll add some lovely foliage to your outdoor space and will helpfully hide any tired-looking fences.

    Close up of climbing plant with leaves and tendrils wrapped around wooden stakes.

    Credit: Getty

    “Attach a few runs of galvanised wire horizontally along the boundary you want to add height to,” explains Laurie. “Plant a Jasmine to create a green screen all year round or for a quick fix sow runner or French beans.

    “Beans will climb the wires within weeks during the summer, before producing a massive bloom of beautiful flowers followed by a tasty crop.”

    Sweet peas and Clematis are two other budget friendly blooms that will smell great and climb well.

    Galvanised wire rope 0.15 x 5000cm, £4.50 from Homebase

    13. Accessorise

    Soft furnishings and ornaments aren’t restricted to the home. Outside accessories like cushions and statues are a popular, thrifty hack that are sure to add character to your outside oasis.

    Most garden and DIY stores sell reasonably priced fire pits which guests can gather and warm themselves round on a late summer evening. (We’d recommend investing in a protective fire pit floor mat with this)

    A Garden Sofa with Cushions In The Back Yard

    Credit: Getty

    Of course, some cushions and blankets will likely complement this cosy fire setting. They’ll also jazz up any old garden furniture when entertaining.

    Garden ornaments are another way to add definition to your outdoor area. A vintage-looking watering can filled with flowers is sure to raise the stakes. Whilst the classic garden gnome is a fun and popular choice amongst kids. Though we realise that this might not be to everyone’s taste.

    La Hacienda Fire basket Steel Firepit, £29 from B&Q

    14. Play with pallets

    You can add a number of cheap structures to your garden with recycled pallets. From planters to storage savers – and even a seat.

    Those handy with some nails, a saw and a drill, can use pallets to assemble a straight-forward plant table. These can be both practical and aesthetically pleasing, storing your garden tools and holding some of your potted produce.

    Garden furniture can even be erected from pallets, with many tutorials on Youtube showing you how to make a pallet sofa structure. Just add cushions and covers for comfort.

    You can find free pallets to collect on Gumtree

    15. Declutter

    Sometimes you can’t see your garden’s potential because it’s become so littered with bicycles, broken plant pots, toys and tools.

    close-up of bicycle wheel in garden

    Credit: Getty

    Give it a good tidy-up with the usual advice: store what you might use, recycle anything that you won’t (and can be recycled) and bin the rest.

    You’ll be surprised at how much better the space will look when you’ve tried this budget garden ideas. Plus you’ll be inspired to sit out more often or buy colourful accessories now there’s more space.

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