8 ways to cut the cost of a garden makeover – expert tips for paying less on landscaping, plants and more

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  • Looking for ways to cut the cost of your garden makeover? We’ve got you covered. A new garden can be an almighty project, with so many different areas to think about, from lawn and borders to patios and plants — all these individual elements can really add up.

    Rethinking your plot? Check out our complete range of garden ideas

    We’ve asked experts to share their top tips for saving money when it comes to overhauling your outdoor area. Here’s what they had to say about keeping prices low, while still achieving a high-end look.

    Ways to cut the cost of a garden makeover

    1. Research plants carefully

    Image credit: Tom Meadows

    Garden designer Jack Wallington tells Ideal Home, ‘I always think of gardens across the long term, think about how the things you buy will last across ten years rather than a quick fix for this year.’

    It can be tempting to go mad on discounted pieces to fulfil your budget garden ideas. But planning for the future and investing in products that will stand the test of time is actually a better use of money, rather than opting for flimsier, cheaper items.

    Jack adds, ‘Too often, people buy throwaway items or bargain plants thinking they’re saving money, and then feel frustrated when the cheap furniture breaks or the plants die, leading to repeat expenses the following spring.

    ‘Choose plants much more carefully, doing research into each one to check size and that it matches the conditions of your garden. A shrub or perennial that likes your garden’s soil and climate, and won’t out grow your space, will give you value for years, if not decades.’

    2. Grow your own

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    For those really looking to save the pennies, another top tip from Jack is to get stuck in and grow products for yourself.

    ‘Of course, another way to save money in the garden is to grow most of the plants yourself from seeds or cuttings,’ he adds. ‘Coordinate with friends to do the same and between you, you’ll have a garden centre’s worth of plants to share.’

    Follow our guide to how to make compost for even bigger savings.

    3. Use gravel or pebbles instead of paving

    gravel under sun lounger

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If patio ideas or a garden path is part of your vision, there are ways to save without compromising your vision. ‘If laying a patio is in your budget, an oversized garden paving slab in a light, neutral colour will give a contemporary look,’ says garden designer Heather McDougall. ‘To save money on laying slabbed path, use slabs intermittently. Use a complementary coloured pea gravel to fill the remaining areas.’

    Patio aside, if you had planned for more paving in your garden but don’t think you have the budget for it, gravel and pebbles could be a cheaper alternative. This gravel effect can look lovely as a border or can be used to go around other features in an outdoor space — like underneath this sun lounger bench.

    4. Think twice about landscaping

    lavender garden

    Image credit: Claire Lloyd Davies

    ‘Always question if you really need lots of hard landscaping,’ says Jack Wallington. ‘It’s often the most expensive element in a garden.’

    There’s also the option to do it yourself, rather than hire a professional landscaper — as this will no doubt save money. There are lots of books, online guides or even short construction courses to help you along. And most building materials are easy to find at garden centres and builders merchants. Just be prepared to get stuck in.

    Also, be sure to consult our garden landscaping ideas.

    5. Recycle materials

    recycle materials

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    The truth is, there may be no need to splash out on new pieces, as you might already have materials around your home and garden you can use for your garden makeover. It’s also worth buying second-hand items to keep costs down.

    Have a go! How to make pallet garden furniture – a step-by-step guide

    ‘Reuse existing materials, they might surprise you. In our own London garden I’d had my heart set on gorgeous new clay pavers in a herringbone pattern but in reality the cost of buying and installing these was more than we could afford.

    ‘I repurposed the old basic slabs and they looked fantastic re-laid in a new pattern and scrubbed up. Afterwards I preferred this weathered look to the new products I’d been obsessing over,’ says Jack Wallington.

    6. Hold off buying a BBQ… until autumn

    BBQ in the garden

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you can resist holding off to upgrade your outdoor grill, you might reap the financial rewards.

    Data from comparison website PriceRunner shows that October is the best time to get a great deal on the best BBQs, as retailers clear out older models to make room for new ones for the following spring.

    7. Use paint

    small lawn in garden

    Image credit: Future/David Giles

    Whether it’s a shed, summer house or some garden chairs, sometimes old furniture just needs a fresh lick of paint to give it a new lease of life.

    Jack says, ‘Old garden furniture is often thrown away but can easily be spruced up with a good sanding down and painting with exterior paints. Outdoor paints come in a wide variety of colours now. Not only does this save money, it’s more sustainable by saving good furniture from adding to landfill.’

    Richard Berry, Marketing Manager of Lidget Compton, adds, ‘Repainting outdoor buildings is a great way to transform the overall look of a garden, yet is relatively inexpensive.’

    ‘Outdoor furniture and buildings are exposed to various types of weather, be that mild or extreme, so it’s important to choose the appropriate paint when renovating your garden for longevity and to cut future costs.’

    8. Buy once and buy well

    modern garden

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    ‘Quality furniture made of metal or wood will last for many years if protected with covers in the winter months. Hard landscaping like patios and fences installed by a professional should last a decade, if not more,’ adds Jack Wallington.

    ‘Approaching gardens in this way with a higher investment in the first year than you might like, ultimately brings you much bigger savings with each passing year.’

    In terms of the materials themselves, Dulcie from Selby Landscapes says, ‘Softwood timber decking doesn’t last as long as composite decking, but stone would also give this best quality and longevity for most areas.’

    Our ways to cut the cost of a garden makeover should save you a pretty penny. Check back regularly for more brilliant money-saving ideas.

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