As summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to tidy up your outdoor space and give it some much-deserved love and attention. Whether you have a full garden or a much more intimate ‘yarden’, the costs of sprucing up your outdoor paradise can add up over multiple trips to hardware shops and garden centres. If this is an endeavour you take on every year or even every few years, you might be scratching your head wondering why you are sinking so much money into your garden, and how the amount you are spending can be reduced.
Using our years of collective experience, we have put together a list of ways you can update your garden on a budget without sacrificing style.
1. Upcycle and re-use
Upcycling is basically taking something old or dysfunctional, and re-purposing it into something useful to reduce waste generated by buying mass produced items. There are plenty of opportunities to upcycle within your garden. For example, you could:
- Turn broken plant pots into bug hotels or habitats for small animals.
- Use second-hand materials for edging and borders.
- Use old doors to create a three door potting shed.
- Waterproof old indoor furniture and use it outside.
- Re-use old wooden planks to create a path.
- Plant herbs and flowers in old tin cans.
2. Second-hand furniture
You’d be surprised at how many great pieces of furniture you can pick up for next to nothing if you know where to look. Sure, they might need a bit of work to get them up to standard, but buying second hand furniture can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of pounds.
Some good places to look for budget furniture include:
- Charity or second-hand shops
- House clearance shops
- Facebook marketplace and buy & sell groups
Also ask around your family and friends to see if anyone is letting go of some furniture soon.
3. Seek out bargains
Online furniture sites frequently have sales, offers and discount codes. Clearance pages also usually have a decent range of items up for grabs. You might strike lucky and find the furniture set of your dreams whilst you are browsing the internet, or a style you never knew existed.
Take a look at our garden furniture clearance
4. Get creative with pallets
Pallets offer an extremely cheap (usually free) resource for DIY and furniture building projects. They often require a bit of cleaning up and nail removal, but once they’ve had some attention they can be repurposed in an infinite number of ways. Some projects you could undertake with wooden pallets are:
- An outdoor sofa – add some comfy outdoor cushions and throws, and you’re ready to go
- A table – stack your pallets up to form a functional coffee table
- A garden bar – build a stylish garden bar to entertain your friends and family
- Planters – with some creativity, you can reimagine pallets as planters
Sand your pallet creations down and give them a lick of paint for a fun, rustic feel.
5. Build a fire pit
Fire pits are the ultimate extra for anyone who loves to throw garden parties and host summer night gatherings. The only catch is that the popular fire bowls and firepits you may have seen on Instagram come with a huge price tag. However, with a bit of elbow grease and the right materials you can put together a firepit of your own.
6. Paint plant pots
Bored of the dull terracotta of your plant pots? Us too – but shelling out for more exciting planters isn’t an option sometimes. The solution is to break out the paintbrushes and to get a bit creative. For an even more budget-friendly project, pick up paint samples from your local DIY shop instead of paying for full tins.
You could paint a different pattern on each one for a zany effect or stick to block colours to give your garden a put-together feel.
7. Pick up some free tires
Old tires can be repurposed in hundreds of ways and the best part about them is that you can usually pick them up from a scrap yard for free. They are made from extremely tough materials, meaning they’ll last the lifespan of your garden and even longer. We could ramble on about how brilliant old tires are, but what can you actually use them for?
Some ideas that we absolutely love include:
- Planters – tires are excellent for housing plants within, or outside of, a flowerbed. Stack them to create a taller planter if you need to.
- Play area – tired can be used within a child’s play area to create seating, or even an assault course.
- Hanging baskets – with some creativity you can attach tires to walls and use them to plant herbs, flowers and trailing plants. A quirky, rustic feature for any garden.
- Seating – tires make the perfect starting point for crafting DIY stools for both children and adults.
8. Make an outdoor kitchen
If you love to entertain, you’re missing an opportunity by not fully utilising your outdoor space as a food prep and cooking area. Use old bricks, cinder blocks and repurposed furniture to put together an area where you can barbecue food and prepare drinks whilst staying close to your guests and enjoying their company. To utilise your space in an even smarter way, plant herbs close by so you can grab them easily.
9. Take plant cuttings
Plants don’t seem like too much of an expense, but when you’re trying to plant up an entire garden the costs can add up quickly. A cheaper way to fill your flowerbeds is to ask people you know if they have any plants you can take cuttings from, or to take cuttings from plants you already have. This will take a lot longer and your cuttings will require a lot of nurturing, but the pay off will be worth it.
10. Let there be light
If you feel like your garden is lacking atmosphere and you want to create a cosy outdoor space, lighting might be your solution. Outdoor lights can be picked up for a relatively cheap price and most of them are solar powered. Draping fairy lights on your fence and lighting up pathways is an inexpensive way to add a magical touch to the space without it costing the world.
11. Build a pond
A pond can completely change the look of a garden, but you might think they’re way too costly. You don’t have to have a pond professionally built, though. With the right tools, you can build an impressive, natural looking pond which will attract wildlife and wow your guests. All you need is stones and pebbles, a pond liner and water.
You can also get some fun moveable water features which will add an extra element to your DIY pond.
12. Lay down paths
If you have a grassy area which is looking a bit plain, why not lay down a path? This doesn’t need to be a huge project, and using materials like gravel will cut costs massively whilst still looking good.
A path will also separate your garden into sections, giving it a more cohesive look. One side of the path could be your child’s play area, and the other could be for relaxing, barbecuing and entertaining.
13. Break out the power washer
If you’ve decided you are tired of your garden because it looks dull and tired, it might just need a good clean and tidy. Power washers are inexpensive to hire (or you can pinch one from a friend for the weekend) and will make your garden slabs, patio and furniture look like they are brand new.
Ryan Jenkins is a professional gardener and has been working in the gardening industry for over 25 years. This has allowed Ryan to accumulate a vast wealth of gardening knowledge which he shares on the Sefton Meadows blog.