20 budget small garden ideas to give your outside space an update for under £100

Give your garden, patio or balcony the glow up it deserves with these nifty tips and ideas

Garden with tree and chair
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

No matter what size your outdoor space, whether a tiny terrace, bijou balcony or little lawn, our budget small garden ideas will transform your space without having to break the bank.

With the cost of living on the up we all want to save as many pennies as we can, so budget garden ideas are a great place to start. But if your 'garden' is more postage stamp than football pitch in size, you might be wondering what can be done to give your small garden a refresh. But fear not, as we've pulled together our top low cost, small space suggestions to get you set for summer.

Brilliant budget small garden ideas

From container gardening to vertical planting, upgrading your fence ideas to adding a mirror – we have plenty of budget small garden ideas that will help transform your garden into a wonderful place to be this season.

1. Build slimline furniture

Garden bench made from pallets in gravel garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)

With just a little bit of DIY knowledge, you can take a pallet and transform it into a sofa. You may already have some pallets knocking around, but if not then try Gumtree, Marketplace and Freecycle to see if anyone has some to give away. It's also worth asking local businesses, too.

Learn the basics of how to built pallet furniture and then you can create a brand new, uninque sofa to fit your garden perfectly.

2. Add raised beds

Raised bed with flowers, tree and climbing plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Once two-birds-with-one-stone example of budget small garden ideas is to raise your planting. Raised beds are fantastic additions to every garden, especially as container gardens are becoming more and more popular. By taking your beds off the ground, you're visually increasing the square footage of your space, making it seem larger than it is.

You can build beds out of sleepers, pallets, and just about any building material you can find and are comfortable working with!

3. Take on a trellis

Garden trellis fence with flowering climbing plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

A garden trellis is a great, space-saving planting device for budget small garden ideas. You can either add a trellis to a wall, or turn a fence into one in its entirety. With your planting, you'll get so much more for your space, as your plants will be able to grow up and well as out, so you won't need as many as you would without the vertical space.

4. Go nautical with a printed sail shade

outdoor living area with printed sail shade, outdoor sofa and armchair, lighting, coffee table, nautical theme

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Even in this country it can get hot, so be prepared with an affordable garden shade idea. While you can invest in a parasol, choosing a length of fabric that you can hang up as a sail-style shade will not only be more affordable but take up no floor space in a small garden.

If you have a nautical theme then opt for one in shades of blue, it will tie in perfectly with the rest of the scheme.

5. Give your fence an update

small garden with compact seating idea on decking. White painted fence, wooden coffee table, cushions, plants

(Image credit: Cuprinol)

Painting your fence and existing wooden furniture will give your small garden a lift without breaking the bank. If you choose a pale colour it will help your outdoor space feel bigger too.

'There is no one perfect colour for a garden fence, it all depends on the mood you want to create, the size of space and the kind of plants you have. Pale shades inspired by nature that reflect the light plus white and cream will always make small gardens look bigger – but strangely so does black – which makes the borders of your space visually melt away,' says Marianne Shillingford, creative director, Cuprinol.

head shot of Marianne Shillingford
Marianne Shillingford

Creative Director of Akzonobe, Marianne Shillingford’s core objective in her role is to help people to be more confident about using colour in their projects. That might involve everything from working on new colour ranges and tools to writing press features and recording videos.

6. Source vintage furniture

garden with vintage sideboard and sink, lanterns, shelf with hooks, tools hanging from it, pots, plants, candles

(Image credit: Lights 4 Fun/Oliver Perrott)

Add character to your garden by buying secondhand furniture that can be used for storage outside. Car boots, antique fairs and flea markets are all good sources for furniture and they often have old Bristol sinks too that can be used as planters.

Sideboards can double up as potting benches and be used for storing tools in during the colder months.

7. All in a row

mid century modern style bench with retro print cushion against garden wall, pots and planters on the wall above, wooden trunk coffee table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Carolyn Barber)

Often, simple is best for budget small garden ideas and placing pots and planters along the top of your wall can have a great effect. Not only will it add interest, but colour and texture too.

Do check with your neighbours if there are some the other side of the wall, but if they're keen gardeners they might welcome the extra height and floral colour too.

8. Paint your garden chairs in an accent colour

small garden with red painted wooden armchair, green painted wall, BBQ to the right, white painted crate, grey cushion, yellow throw, planters

(Image credit: Sandtex)

‘The best thing about summer is BBQs but before you start hosting – you’ll want to make sure your garden is looking it’s best. Just one colourful piece of garden furniture can liven up your garden – and it’s the perfect excuse to upcycle that old garden chair,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer, Crown Paints.

Although greens and blues are synonymous with gardens, why not think out of the box and opt for a bright red? This is a smart way to transform your best garden furniture for under £50.

Justyna Korczynska, Crown Paints expert headshot
Justyna Korczynska

Justyna has been bringing her expertise in colour trends and showstopping interior design skills to Crown Paints for over a decade. She has a wealth of experience in colour phycology and has an eye for helping customers to create beautiful living spaces.

9. Sow your own flowers

garden full of summer blooms, container plants and obelisk

(Image credit: Barnsdale Gardens/Steve Hamilton)

There's nothing more satisfying than sowing your own flower seeds and watching them grow, plus you'll see returns on these budget small garden ideas if you start a cut flower garden for home-grown bouquets. We asked Nick Hamilton, owner, Barnsdale Gardens for his expert advice:

'Many varieties of vegetables and flowers are now bred specifically for container growing. Keep an eye out for those that are perfect for pots but still give a successful harvest.

'Use old newspaper to make your own pots, these are the perfect sustainable choice as they will simply rot away in the ground after planting. Get prepared for next year and collect seeds from dried seed cases of flowers. You can save them in envelopes ready for sowing in early spring. Always ensure that they are kept in a cool, dry, dark place if possible.'

Nick Hamilton Head Gardener Barnsdale Gardens
Nick Hamilton

The son of renowned gardener Geoff Hamilton, Nick is a respected horticultural expert in his own right. After Geoff passed away, Nick took over ownership of Barnsdale Gardens, which his father established in 1989. These idea-filled gardens continue to provide inspiration for home gardeners today.

10. Chalkboard painting fun

small garden with chalkboard area, kids play area, toys, decking, sandpit

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Don't forget the kids – for a lovely family garden idea give them a fun corner in the garden where they can have messy play in. Chalkboard paint is a fabulous idea that will keep them entertained for hours, all you need is some wood and chalkboard paint for a striking feature. You can create a theme with a sandpit too.

Add hooks to the fence so they can hang up their buckets and spades and pop in a little stool and cushions.

11. Make the most of every inch

metal garden bench around tree, blankets, books

(Image credit: A Place For Everything)

When space is tight, sometimes we need to think creatively about how to utilise what we have available.

'You don’t have to have a huge garden to enjoy relaxing during those bursts of Spring or Autumn sunshine and those long summer days – you just need to make sure the space works for you. Opt for furniture that is a real space-saver, like a beautiful bench which fits round a tree trunk. This can look decorative and be a practical addition to the garden – this semi-circle bench is perfect for creating a focal point in the garden as well as providing a comfortable shaded area,' says Simon Glanville, founder, A Place For Everything.

Simon Glanville, A Place For Everything
Simon Glanville

Simon Glanville is founder and managing director of storage & organisational retailer A Place For Everything. Living and breathing storage for over 20 years, Simon’s APfE retail brand now has one of the largest selections of stylish storage solutions in UK.

12. Go bold with colour on your walls

small garden with bold blue wall, artificial grass, coloured cane chair, cushion, plants

(Image credit: Carpetright)

'It can be a challenge to create an inspiring garden when you have limited outdoor space. The easiest and most cost-effective way to create a bright and positive space is to add colour.

'Artificial grass is available in a variety of different shades and textures, which you can pair with a vibrant accent colour, to create an uplifting design. A concise bright palette is key. You can paint your main wall or fence and add simple accessories such as bistro table sets and decorative planters and pots to create an inspiring space,' says Sarah Hooper, grass buyer, Carpetright.

13. Grow your own veg

tomatoes growing in a blue pot

(Image credit: Burpee Europe)

If you're short on space you can still learn how to grow tomatoes in pots or even how to grow cucumbers in pots.

'There are many varieties of vegetables that are good for planting in small spaces, balconies or patios in containers. The blight-resistant tomato varieties such as the one below are great as they can be grown outside. ‘Veranda Red’ is a dwarf determinate bush variety with a very adaptable plant habit,' advises Andrew Mellowes, commercial director, Burpee Europe.

'This remarkable variety is suitable for growing in pots as small as 11cm but will also fill a 2 Litre (16-17cm diameter) pot. ‘Veranda Red’ is eminently suitable for growing in patio pots and three plants in a 30cm diameter container will provide a pleasing effect with a crop of fruit from late July to early September if sown in mid-April. Plants do not require staking or supports if they are grown in a sheltered location. It has good resistance to Fusarium, Verticillium and some resistance to late blight,'

Andrew Mellowes, commercial director, Burpee Europe
Andrew Mellowes

Andrew Mellowes joined Burpee Europe as Commercial Director in January 2023. He has worked in the garden industry for many years, most recently in the role of General Manager at Woodlodge Products Ltd.

14. Go tall with your planting

small garden with table, chairs, parasol, tall plants in border near low wall, lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cheat your way to making your small garden look bigger – whilst on a budget – by planting tall varieties in your borders. It will zone a patio area and separate it from the lawn. This will help to create the illusion of more space due to the two areas it creates.

Choose foxgloves, grasses, snapdragons and alliums to create height and the wildlife will love them too.

15. Think vertically

Blue wall with plant and wooden box

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Your outdoor space might be lacking a large footprint but you can always make the most of a vertical space instead. Living vertical walls are big business for both residential and commercial properties across the country and look super-smart too.

To create yours for budget small garden ideas, use an old wooden pallet and make a simple, rectangular box planter. Fill with soil and then plant up a mixture of trailing plants, grasses and hardy succulents. Attach to a wall or fence, or lean on a ledge in a vertical position.

16. Create a lush look for a balcony

Garden with wooden flooring and chair

(Image credit: B&Q)

Traditionally balcony gardeners would plant up pots and troughs to make their space look appealing from the outside. But instead of hanging planters to face away from you, turn your balcony garden ideas towards you and plant up with trailing plants that will cascade down your balcony rails. This way you will save on plants that other people will enjoy more than you will!

Potted plants look fab arranged in small huddles of three, five or seven and playing with the heights and sizes or them will create a jungle-vibe too.

17. Squeeze in a mini-greenhouse

Garden with potted plant and stone

(Image credit: Dobbies)

No matter how wee your space, don't let it stop you from growing an array of fruit and veg. Mini greenhouses are great for keeping plants warm, but can also double up as mini sheds too. If you're going to be storing all your gardening paraphernalia inside too, think about adding some frosted or fluted film to the glass to blurb out any clutter you're storing.

While you can find mini greenhouse options to buy at DIY stores and garden centres, you could also have a go at making you own for your budget small garden ideas, using old windows sourced from a scrap yard.

18. Make your own private bar

Garden with bar and bottles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Having a bar area outside will create your own little entertaining zone, and this clever example of budget small garden ideas is made from just a couple of pallets. Cut the top section from the pallet to use as the flip down section and attach using two strong hinges and lengths of chain.

Finish with a piece of wood to act as your serving board. Attach to the wall and enjoy sundowners with friends whenever the mood takes you.

19. Cheat more space with a mirror

Garden with tree and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

A well-placed garden mirror idea can do wonders to enhance any outdoor space, and will make your garden look bigger than it really is by tricking the eye into thinking it goes on and on. Create your own by using an old gate or some painted trellis mounted onto a piece of mirrored board and hang on the wall, or prop up by a shed.

20. Double up on window boxes

Wooden wall with black window frame and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

If you're lacking on flower beds a great way to introduce more colour and greenery is with window boxes. Traditionally they would with hang below a window, or sit along a sill, but throw tradition out the door and go for two hung on top of each other for maximum impact.

Try filling the top box with pretty, colourful flowers while the bottom one would be reserved for larger, lusher plants, and even a few trailing plants too.

Make the boxes from leftover wood planks or pallet boards to make this perfect for budget small garden ideas.

21. Build ladder shelving for herbs

Wooden box with potted plants

(Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole)

Make the most of the space along fencing and build some simple ladder shelving. Use pieces of leftover wood from a previous project, or an old pallet board cut up into lengths. Attach to your fencing and paint in the same colour so it seamlessly blends into the background.

Terracotta pots are inexpensive and can be picked up for very little at charity shops, car boot sales and from second-hand websites too.

22. Upcycle old tins and jars as planters

Potted plant with sea stone and blur backgroun

(Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole)

Just about any vessel can be used to plant up flowers, herbs and succulents, so think outside the box. Old tin cans, glass jars, jugs, tea cups and even pots and pans can all be used, they just need a couple of drainage holes punched in the bottom. With glass jars, line the bottom with gravel or small stones and fill the sides with moss to hide them.

Arrange your planted vessels in trios around your outside space and watch them grow into an oasis.


How do you make a small garden look nice on a budget?

There are plenty of ways to make a small garden look great on a budget, it's just about thinking smartly! First and foremost, utilise what you already have, to avoid having to part with your cash. Walls and fences can benefit from a lick of paint, furniture given a good clean and a varnish and dead leaves can be cleared to reveal a tidier space. Pulling up weeds and removing moss from pathways will both help to make any garden space look nicer.

Bark and wood chippings are cheap and will fill a space much more cost effectively than expensive plants will. Gravel is also a cheaper way to line the edge of a lawn and old bricks can be used to create a winding pathway.

Outdoor rugs are great for hiding tired patios and decking areas while cushions dragged from the house can be piled up high for a relaxing sun-bathing spot.

No matter how small your outdoor space, or conservative your budget, there are easy ways and means to make the most of both to great effect.

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.