Budget garden ideas – 31 cheap design ideas offering instant impact


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  • Is your garden looking a little lacklustre and in need of more than a little TLC? Well, there’s no time like the present to tackle your outdoor space. If your garden fencing is in need of repairing or painting, or your garden edging seems overly messy it can impact upon the whole of your backyard space. Breathing new life into your back garden (or front garden, for that matter) doesn’t always require a landscape gardener.

    Love your garden? See more of our garden ideas.

    There are plenty of simple updates that can be achieved on a budget, and which make a huge difference to the appearance of your outdoor space. Whether it’s a small garden, a patio or a balcony garden, there are plenty of budget garden ideas (or even DIY tricks) to boost your space.

    Budget garden ideas

    From simple garden lighting to inexpensive outdoor furniture ideas, pretty planting to statement outdoor styling for summer garden parties, there are a multitude of smart ways to make your garden great without breaking the bank.

    All it takes is a little planning and a few clever tricks, and you can turn any garden into a tranquil haven, country retreat or al fresco dining area – even on the smallest budget, as these garden ideas show.

    1. Upcycle to make brilliant budget furniture

    Image credit: Cuprinol

    If you’re on a budget, buying new garden furniture can sometimes feel so far out of reach. If you are looking for a savvy solution while you save for the dream furniture set try upcycling old wooden pallets. Above is a fine example of how a disused wooden pallet can make a fabulous garden table, thanks to a splash of vibrant colour and simple castor feet it takes on a whole new purpose.

    2. Build a budget corner sofa

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Making your own furniture is always going to prove more budget-friendly, plus you get exactly what your heart desires. Visit your local DIY retailer and buy some basic sheets of MDF to construct a seat for your corner sofa, fashioning a back with scatter cushions for comfort. Ensuring the base is securely fastened to the walls and well-supported beneath to take the weight when garden gatherings ensue. To add an extra touch of style, and make it feel less budget, paint the seating area in the latest on-trend colours. Add a coffee table and outdoor lighting to welcome a touch of ambience to the sociable space.

    3. Paint the patio

    garden with tiled flooring and garden furniture

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Perk up an old patio with a splash of paint and a stylish stencil pattern. A striking floor will enable your furniture and outdoor accessories shine brighter as a result of the backdrop. The trend became uber popular last summer, as cost-effective garden makeovers reached fever pitch. See a great example here: Homeowner uses Victorian-style tile stencil to paint the patio – and it looks amazing

    4. Carve out a gravel path


    Image credit: Colin Poole/Future PLC

    Navigate your garden with a path paved with gravel and concrete slabs. This idea is a great budget solution for those who want to do it themselves, rather than having to source a professional to do the job – which would substantially add to the costs.

    5. Organise garden twine

    budget garden ideas for garden twine

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Upcycle unused kitchen funnels to organise your garden twines. Simply attached the surplus kitchen accessories onto the wall in the shed, using a hook or a picture fastening. Ensure it’s secure enough to take the weight of the twine and withstand the pulling motion as the string is dispensed.

    6. Upturn crates to fashion garden shelving

    Budget garden ideas upcycled wooden crate shelves

    Image credit: Spike Powell

    Use old wooden crates imaginatively to create bespoke garden storage. Upturned crates can be stacked to fashion shelving for displaying plants or simply storing pots and accessories – even garden shoes.

    To ensure safety we recommend attached the wooden crates securely to the fence behind, where possible. If being used as a freestanding storage unit, say in a shed, simply attached the crates to one another and ensure they are positioned safely – so not to topple over.

    7. Transform old shelves into a vertical herb garden

    budget garden ideas 1

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you have an old set of shelves mount them to a fence and fill with terracotta pots to create your own vertical herb garden. You can also convert an old pallet or ladder if you don’t have any old shelves lying around.

    8. Repurpose a peg rail

    budget garden ideas 2

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    Repurpose an old peg rail into a striking lighting fixture. Attach any hooks or peg rails you have lying around the house to a fence or wall to create the perfect spot to hang solar powered lights or tea light holders. This is the perfect tip for adding interest to a small garden.

    9. Make a shed multipurpose

    Joanna Henderson

    Create the perfect place to entertain by making a your garden shed a multi-purpose solution. It can house garden furniture in the winter, then open out into a bar for garden parties and alfresco sundowners in the summer months. Hang herbs from the roof to utilise during cocktail hour.

    10. Reuse old pans as planters

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Before throwing out old pots and pans, think about whether they could be used as alternative planters instead. Their hard-wearing shells make them ideal for the outdoors. Simply punch a couple of drainage holes in the bottom before re-potting your plants.

    11. Dress the garden with indoor accessories

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    Why double up the expenses of buying beautiful home accessories? Dress your deck with attractive textural accessories that can be easily popped inside should the great British weather do its worst. Doubling up also makes the outdoor an extension of out stylish indoor spaces, a rising trend we’re seeing right now for gardens.

    12. Paint your house number on plant pots

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    One for the front garden. This paint idea is a thoroughly charming way to make your house instantly identifiable. It costs next to nothing, especially if you already have a plant pot in mind and a test pot of paint. Get creative and paint the design of your choice – here simple flowers are created with freehand brush daps. To paint the numbers neatly we recommend using either a wraparound stencil or marking them precisely with masking table.

    13. Fashion a plant display using old ladders

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Step up your garden features with the help of decorative ladder shelving. These ladder shelves are formed by tying two ladders together at the top. Wooden planks laid across the runs provide the shelves on which to display potted plants, lanterns and decorative accessories. Super easy to make and totally cost effective. A step in the right direction for budget gardens!

    14. Power up solar lights for ambience

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Fairy lights in the garden help to add ambience. This clever idea is made using a kitchen staple, the Kilner jar, and a set of solar-powered lights. Powered by all day by the sun these dainty lights will cast a pretty glow over gardens after dark. They are a great solution that doesn’t cost a lot at all.

    15. Brighten a wall with plants in picture frames


    Image credit: Sandtex

    Simple but hugely effective, this easy make costs just a few pounds but is a smart way to bring colour to a dull wall. It’s a great Bank Holiday project – you’ll need some frames, chicken wire, paints, and succulents and moss to fill them out.

    Here’s how: How to make a wall garden with succulent plants in picture frames

    16. Upcycle an old cabinet into a potting table

    Potting table outdoor living room SAH June 17 p98 garden makeover

    Image credit: Jamie Mason

    Here, an old freestanding kitchen unit has been transformed into a place to repot plants with a few easy modifications. Start with a lick of paint, and maybe look to changing the worktop – here, a surface with a lip stops soil dropping all over the floor. Add hooks to the side so you can hang trowels and other tools for easy access. Inside, you can stash compost, pots, seeds and more, freeing up space in your shed.

    17. Lay a path made from old bricks


    Image credit: TI Media

    Put that pile of leftover bricks to good use and make a path that mirrors the shape of your flowerbeds. Lay them long and sideways in a bed of gravel to create a patterned curve.

    18. Add instant colour with bedding plants

    Image credit: Val Corbett

    A tray of Tagetes or Antirrhinum (snapdragons) will add instant colour to your front garden and bloom throughout the summer. Be sure to feed them weekly with tomato food in the summer keep them well watered in the heat – snip off any dead flower heads to keep them looking top notch.

    With the right care they should be packed with flowers until early autumn.

    19. Perk up a patio with a rug


    Image credit: Weaver Green

    An outdoor rug and some oversize floor cushions laid over faded decking or a grubby patio will instantly lift your outdoor space and ensure an entertaining area just as stylish as your interior. Go for designs that are patterned on both sides, so you can flip them over if they start to discolour in the sun.

    20. Impress guests with an outdoor bar


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Rather than disappear into the house every time another drink is needed set up a bar outside and make cocktail hour an alfresco affair. You can pick up the materials needed to knock up your own Tiki-style serving area cheaply at your local DIY store. Or you could keep it really simple and upcycle and old wooden bar cart, making sure to treat the wood against the elements. Keeping drinks cool is as simple as filling a bucket with ice.

    21. Use plastic bottles as containers


    Image credit: Amy Cutmore

    It’s only when you look closely that you notice this potted display is actually contained in used drinks bottles. We spotted this trick at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, and isn’t it genius? Try it yourself by carefully cutting off the top of each bottle, then adding gravel for drainage, followed by soil and the plants of your choice.

    22. Hang baskets filled with blooms


    image credit: Polly Eltes

    Hanging baskets are easy to make and look stunning. Make sure you use multi-purpose compost and feed regularly with tomato food. For a sunny spot use sun loving Surfinias and Bacopa and for a more shady corner try Lobelia and trailing Fuchsia.

    Related: How to plant a hanging basket – transform your garden with this pretty outdoor accessory

    23. Create a mini vegetable garden

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Tim Young

    If you want to make your garden a bit more about sustainability, but don’t really have space (or the funds) to plant a full-scale veggie patch, why not try a neat vegetable trug instead?

    24. Turn your shed into a summerhouse

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Dan Duchars

    If you have a garden shed, but you’re not really using it for anything beyond storing a toolbox and housing some cobwebs, don’t waste the extra space. You can spruce it up pretty easily and turn it into a bright and airy potting shed (if you’re green-fingered) a sunny summerhouse, a neat studio or even a garden playhouse for the kids.

    Read more: Garden shed ideas – projects & designs for your own special outdoor room

    25. Create a cute bird feeder

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    It’s not always big things that change the feel of a garden – it can simply amount to the sounds you hear. Boost your garden’s atmosphere by encouraging birds in with a DIY bird feeder their song will instantly create a more positive feel. Talk about an idea on the ‘cheep’!

    Looking for more wildlife ideas? Wildlife garden ideas – how to turn your outdoor space into a haven for wildlife

    26. Paint the fence

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    Garden fences need more care and attention than we usually care to think about. How come the paint job it needs never lasts as long as we hope it will? So, if you’re looking for garden fence ideas, why not treat it a bit differently next time you give it a coat of wood paint.

    Use paint specially designed for outdoor use to add new life to your garden as this will help preserve the wood, meaning the colour won’t fade. Instead of your usual shades of golden or ashy brown, consider a fresh, playful colour instead. Create a bold statement with your trellis or shed by using bright oranges for a hot Mediterranean feel.

    To focus attention on the plants themselves use a colour to divert the eye away from fences and gates such as holly green. This will make them melt into the background.

    27. Upcycle drawers to create a unique planter

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    If you have an old, unused chest of drawers knocking about the house, give it a new lease of life by turning it into a unique colourful garden planter! This four-drawer unit is well-balanced with two staggered tiers of plants, that bring a playful touch to your back garden design.

    28. Create an inexpensive awning

    budget garden ideas

    If you have a compact patio garden that’s a bit of a sun trap, consider hanging a simple sail-like canopy. It won’t take up the valuable space that a parasol would, but still gives you a little bit of safe shade. You can buy shades like this at B&Q.

    29. Opt for a one-colour wonder

    budget garden ideas

    In a balcony garden, don’t overcomplicate things; choose slender planters in a rich, summery colour and match your furniture. A lick of metal paint can update an old iron garden chair quite easily and is a cheap update, too. This beautiful blue has a real Mediterranean feel and, together with the slender lines of the plant pots and the chair, the small garden area feels comfortable rather than cluttered.

    30. Transform a plain wall with a mural


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Here, and old brick garage has been magically reinvented as a mystical pathway through the woods. And all it took was some tins of paint, applied by an expert wall artist. Commission your own work of art, or have a go yourself if you’re really counting the pennies and fancy yourself as the next Banksy.

    31. Boost seating with colourful cushions

    budget garden ideas

    Image credit: Simon Bevan

    Give your old garden sofa a boost by layering it up with new-season accessories for a modern, budget-conscious look.

    Keep a feeling of warmth, even in a shady corner with bright cushions and matching planting.

    How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget?

    Try all these ideas to make your backyard beautiful on a low budget. From upcycling to make your own furniture to painting the stone tiles to add some much-needed colour – there are so many ways to make the garden beautiful on a budget. where you can try your hand at DIY to ensure whatever you are updating is cost-effective.

    Try dressing the garden with accessories such as outdoor rugs and shower-resistant cushions to instantly make the space feel more premium and well-dressed. All of these things can be a cheap fix to enliven outdoor spaces of all shapes and sizes.

    How can I landscape my yard cheaply?

    Put a pile of leftover bricks to good use by fashioning a cheap garden path that mirrors the shape of your flowerbeds. Lay them length and sideways in a bed of gravel to create a patterned curve that looks professionally done, rather than DIY. Use pots of low maintenance plants to frame patios and pathways, while building raised beds using reclaimed wood to create depth for your border planting.

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