Garden ideas on a budget UK

Take a look at these easy ideas to spruce up your garden without breaking the bank.


by Sharon Reid |

If you ever look outside, your head full of garden ideas to transform your outdoor space but a lack of funds holding you back, we've got just the tips for you with these garden ideas on a budget.

Whether that's by adding a herb garden, some climbing roses or border ideas, we've gathered the best cost-effective ideas to help you make a real difference to the look and feel of your garden. Regardless of if you have a big or small garden, you don't have to be a garden designer as these ideas are easier to implement than you may think. And best of all? They won't break the bank.

Garden ideas on a budget UK

Rethink your plant pots

Don’t buy new plant pots. Give old pots a new lease of life by painting them with your favourite colour. Or why not think more creatively? With a few drainage holes and some compost pretty much anything could be used as a planter — from wheelbarrows to wellies, tun tubs or teapots — let your imagination run wild. It will save you cash and give your garden personality.

wheelbarrow planter

Fertilise your lawn

Using a lawn fertiliser can be a quick and easy way to give your garden a new surge of life. If shop-bought fertiliser is too expensive then try making your own using wood ash from the fireplace. Or you could try beer — it's full of nutrients that feed both the grass and the microbes as well as good bacteria which is essential for healthy growth. Mix with a can of your favourite fizzy drink — the sugar which feeds those same microbes, a cup of baby shampoo and 10 gallons of water.

Clean your patio

Grime quickly builds up on your patio. Spend an hour scrubbing away and you’ll reveal the true colour of the slabs. Don’t forget to get in between bricks and dig up any moss whilst you’re there. Let us help with our step-by-step guide on how to clean a patio.

Solar-powered lights

Outdoor lighting is a great way to extend the use of your garden but it can be expensive and tricky to fit. Try garden solar-powered lights instead. They are free to run, environmentally friendly and solar lights don’t need any wiring in and they work without you having to remember to turn them on and off. Whether you want something practical — lighting a path for example, or something more decorative — twinkling fairy lights in the shrubbery or spotlights on your favourite statement plants — there's something for everyone.

solar-powered garden lights

Eliminate weeds

Weeds are impossible to avoid but ignoring them will make your garden feel drab and unloved. It's well worth spending the time and effort keeping weeds at bay by using a weed killer.

Avoid chemical weed killers by using home remedies from the kitchen such as vinegar and washing up liquid, or simple household salt. You can also smother weeds by covering the soil with newspaper or mulch. Or, best of all, keep your garden well stocked with healthy plants to crowd out any weeds and stop them from getting established.

Freshen up your shed

A garden shed may be practical for storage but it can also be a real focal point in a garden. Give it a fresh coat of shed paint and it could give your garden a new lease of life. Be brave with your colour choices — there's a wide range of outdoor paints available now so there's no need to stick to traditional browns and greens. How about embracing a seaside theme and painting on stripes that resemble a beach hut? Then you'll have colour and interest in the garden all year round — even after the blooms of summer have faded.

Spruce up garden furniture

Wooden garden furniture can often become weathered after frosty winter months, but the paintwork needn't stay dull forever. A good clean, thorough sanding and a fresh coat of paint will transform your wooden outdoor seating area, making it an easy garden idea on a budget. Why not spruce it up even more with some new cushions or a colourful garden parasol? It's also relatively simple to sew new fabric covers for seat cushions.

Plant perennials

If you’re buying seeds or plants, opt for perennials and your investment will last far longer. Don't be tempted to impulse buy; well-thought-out, long-term choices will save money in the long run. If you're browsing online or via seed catalogues it's easy to get carried away with special offers — but they're a waste of money if the plants aren't right for your garden! Your mantra should be ‘right plant, right place’ so only choose plants that you know will thrive in your garden. In the long run, you’ll use less water, fewer fertilisers or special soil improvers to meet the needs of mismatched diva plants.

Create a mini allotment plot

There's nothing better than home-grown fruit and veg so why not turn over part of your garden to create a small allotment plot? Simply corner off a section, prepare the soil and begin planting. Long-term plant health starts with soil. Use compost, manure and leaf mould to improve your plot.

If you're short of space, make a patio veg plot. Container gardening has never been easier because more and more varieties are being developed for growing on patios or in small spaces. Many new varieties are more robust too — where once you needed a greenhouse to grow say cucumbers, new plant varieties thrive without having to be kept cosy undercover.

Give your lawn edges some love

For many people a lawn is an essential part of their garden; not only is it a great place to sit, relax or play, but it also produces oxygen and provides a clearing for ground-feeding birds. If you have beds and borders you may need to alter the shape of your lawn as trees and shrubs mature. Late winter is a good time to carry out any changes because it gives you time to prepare the soil ready for new planting and gives any new turf time to establish before spring. Before lifting the turf, make sure you’ve marked out the shape properly.

For straight edges, a plank works well, or for a curved border mark it out using a hosepipe or rope. For a neat edge to your lawn, use a half-moon edging iron. Carry out the work on a dry day when the ground isn’t waterlogged to prevent puddling the surrounding area.

Try topiary

Add a sense of fun to your garden with some topiary. Don’t worry, topiary is not nearly as difficult as you think. Take a look at some basic online tutorials and turn any unsightly shrubs or hedges into something a bit more artistic.

Make your own upcycled lanterns

Light up your garden at night for free using just tin cans and tealights. This simple project is fast and fun to make. Incorporate your own colours and patterns to add a unique twist to your lanterns.

Mirror mirror...

Hanging mirrors up in your garden may sound strange but it’s a quick and easy way to make the space feel larger. Use any unwanted ones or grab some cheap ones from a charity shop and hang on walls or garden fencing.

garden mirrors available from National Trust shops
©National Trust

Lay down a rug

Now it might seem a little strange but outdoor rugs instantly add a warm and cosy feel to your garden. They also automatically create a living area and a focal point in your garden where you can arrange seating for gatherings.

DIY water feature

Water fountains can be expensive so try a cheap and easy option instead. Buy some pretty pebbles from the garden centre, then dig a hole in the garden. Line the hole with tarpaulin and hide it using the pebbles and rocks. Fill with water to create a pond.

Bird feeders

Don’t throw away tin cans from soup and baked beans. Wash them out thoroughly before painting, then hang up in the garden. Fill with birdseed and you’ll have your very own bird feeder. Try out our teacup bird feeder tutorial or check out these bird feeding stations you can buy.

Paint the patio

If your patio is already clean but you still feel it needs that little ‘pick me up’, then why not try painting it? You could go for one bold colour or even try a cool stencil idea like the one below — either way, it'll look seriously eye-catching. It doesn’t need to be expensive and is great for those grassless gardens too.

painted garden patio

Add a splash of colour

For those who don’t have a patio, you could paint the wall instead to breathe some new life into your garden. A feature wall, like this one below, makes a big impact with very little effort. Be sure to pick suitable paint to ensure a decent finish.

Painted wall in garden
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