45 budget garden ideas for enhancing your outdoor space

These easy garden decor tips won't break the bank

A patio with planters and a trellis fence with climbing plants
(Image credit: Future PLC/www.ti-mediacontent.com)

Creating your dream garden can seem like a pricey venture, but with the right budget garden ideas, it doesn't have to cost the earth.

You can see all of your garden ideas to fruition with the right tricks, from upcycling to making small decor changes that make a big impact. And it isn't just small garden ideas that work out cheaper - you can transform larger spaces with cheap garden ideas, too.

There are plenty of easy and affordable updates that you can make to your outdoor space to transform its appearance and make it a far more enjoyable space to be in. There are even some free garden ideas that you can try that won't cost you a penny, from using self-seeding flowers that will bloom season after season to dividing up plants to boost next year’s planting scheme.

‘You don’t need to spend a fortune on your garden makeover,' says stylist and creative director Charlie Davis. 'Planning is key to making the most out of your space and budget.'

We've rounded up the best budget garden ideas to inspire your outdoor space.

Canopy created with white tasseled fabric strung between four wooden upright posts, above two sun loungers with green and white striped cushions, and hydrangeas in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

You shouldn't stress when it comes to giving your garden a makeover. ‘Gardening is one of the few things you can do for free,' says garden designer and presenter Joel Bird. 'People always look for the “makeover”, but remember how important the plants are in a garden, providing cover, shade, colour, texture as well as space for nature.'

Don't forget that other straightforward DIY tasks like knowing how to clean a concrete patio or how to paint a fence can have a huge impact on your space for very little spend, too. We've rounded up our favourite budget garden ideas and asked garden design experts to lend us a few of their tricks.

1. Revamp second-hand wooden furniture

A garden furniture set on a patio

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

If you're looking for cheap garden ideas for wooden furniture, remember that you can find some hidden gems in charity shops or on Facebook Marketplace. 'I’d recommend going for solid wood pieces over softer woods as they are more resilient woods and less vulnerable to weather,' says Hudson Lambert, Upcycling expert at Roxil.

Once you have your second-hand pieces, they might need a bit of TLC. 'Clean the furniture thoroughly, making sure you use the right cleaner for the wood,' Hudson advises. 'For hardwood, we’d recommend a biodegradable cleaner like the Roxil 100 Wood and Patio Cleaner, available at Amazon, which you can spray on, leave for an hour, then spray off with plenty of water.

'For softwood, try a wood scrub like Roxil Wood Scrub Gel, also available at Amazon. Add water to the wood’s surface before applying the gel to aid workability, then leave it for an hour, and scrub with a hard brush.

'At this stage, also check for any damage that might need repairing such as a loose chair leg. If the furniture has existing layers of varnish or paint, you can also strip or sand the wood to completely remove it.'

Refresh your wooden furniture with these top products:

Hudson Lambert
Hudson Lambert

Hudson Lambert is Roxil’s resident upcycling expert and managing director with over 25 years of industry experience. Safeguard Europe (the umbrella brand of Roxil) was founded in 1983 by Hudson's father.

2. Carve out a gravel path

garden with flower plant and pathway

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Navigate your garden with a path paved with gravel and concrete slabs. This DIY garden path 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.

'Gravel is by far the most affordable option if you’re looking to install a patio on a budget,' says Tom Clifford, director at Gardenstone. 'Not only is the cost of the gravel itself cheaper, but the installation and labour costs are significantly reduced when compared to slab paving.'

3. Reuse containers

Herbs potted in tin cans

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

An abundance of quirky containers await you in your kitchen cupboards – empty food tins can be washed up, the edges smoothed and transformed into plant pots.

When you look at the household items you have around you, a surprising number can be upcycled in this way – not only will you be saving money by not buying brand-new plant pots, they also make unique features in a greenhouse or garden, and a talking point for guests.

4. Upcycle pallets

Garden bar, table and stools made from pallets

(Image credit: Future PLC)

There are so many pallet ideas to choose from, so if you can get your hands on one of these handy structures, you can save yourself a lot of money in the garden.

For a nifty cheap garden idea, try learning how to make pallet furniture or create a DIY pallet herb garden. A lick of weather-resistant wood treatment can make these structures last even longer.

5. Make an easy water feature

garden grass with metal planter water feature and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The soothing sound of trickling water or the sun reflecting off the surface adds a new dimension to any outdoor space, and experimenting with a DIY water feature idea is easy to do without too much effort. While there’s a huge range of designs available to buy, a DIY water feature is super easy to put together and can look just as effective.

Choose a shallow yet wide, open container – a vintage enamel basin, galvanised metal tub or even an upturned dustbin lid will do the job perfectly. Place your container on level ground or raise it up on a simple brick or timber plinth, away from trees or shrubs.

Decide what you want your feature to include, whether that's still water, a mini solar-powered bubbling fountain from Amazon or a selection of pond plants from Crocus. Then, simply fill it with water and enjoy the reflection of scudding clouds overhead and visits from birds and other wildlife.

6. Make a planter with built-in drainage

flower plant in hanging blue pot with chains

(Image credit: Future PLC /Howard Walker)

Another great way to save cash on a planter is to use an old metal colander and attach four lengths of chain to it to make a hanging basket.

The beauty of a colander is that it has ready-made drainage holes already built in, so you don't need to worry about your roots becoming waterlogged. Plant it up with a mixture of flowering plants and trailing plants to make a beautiful display.

‘It’s important to remember what a garden is – it’s the plants that will bring you the joy,' says garden designer Joel. 'Get as much planting in as you can, find the best sunny spot and make it yours – the result is that you’ll create your dream space, whatever your budget.’

7. Sow your own wildflowers

Meadow garden in front of house

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

If money's tight and investing in potted plants and bulbs seems too pricey, then consider sowing some wildflower seeds as a cheap garden idea.

'If you're looking to create a vibrant wildflower garden, using seeds is your best bet,' says Amy Stubbs, development and project manager at British Garden Centres. 'These can be conveniently found and purchased at most garden centres and are available in a wide range of colours and styles, from traditional cottage gardens to nectar-rich blends that attract bees and butterflies.

'For an easy-to-maintain garden, select mixes that include low-maintenance varieties like ox-eye daisy, corn poppy, cornflower, and corn marigold. Once you've chosen your seeds, simply scatter them in the desired location and lightly rake them in.'

You can find a wide selection of wildflower seeds at Thompson & Morgan – there's something to suit every garden style.

8. Paint a bold feature wall

Garden wall with mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

If you’re fed up of staring at scruffy brickwork or tatty plaster, then grab a pot of paint and give a dreary outdoor wall a glow-up. Whether it’s a wall at the end of the garden or on the side of a garage, a bold colour will look much more uplifting than standard white or neutral and will give a drab space a bit of a boost.

Painted surfaces works wonders in a garden, with darker colours working particularly well in contract to the verdant greenery. Bold shades make a great foil for flowers, foliage and planters. Ensure that any render or brickwork is clean, dry and free of loose flakes before painting and always use exterior masonry paint for a longer-lasting finish.

9. Lay a DIY path

garden path with wood stepping stones and white flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Trying out a quick and easy garden path idea doesn’t have to be an expensive or arduous project. Besides gravel, you can use bark nuggets, slate chippings or pea shingle which are practical underfoot and look good, too.

You could salvage a pile of leftover bricks and put them to good use by making a path that mirrors the edge of your flowerbeds. Lay them in a bed of gravel to create a decorative curve and experiment with patterns, or try a basketweave design.

This will both stop the aggregate from being pushed down into the soil and prevent weeds from growing up, within the path.

Another thrifty and attractive budget garden idea is to lay a woodland-style log path using cross sections of sawn logs. Place them onto a firmed and levelled pathway and arrange them as stepping-stones, filling in any gaps between them with bark chippings.

10. Make slate plant markers

plant marker white plate with plant tags

(Image credit: Future PLC /Tim Young)

Never confuse your chives with your chervil again by creating handy slate labels to pop in your herb pots. Use a white marker pen or piece of chalk (if you want to rub them out) to write the plant names on mini slate tiles.

Bend wire using pliers to make rods with curled hooks to hang them on. Write how often plants need watering on the back of the marker to help you keep on top of plant care.

11. Reuse old corks for planting

plants and vegetable tags of cork in brown pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

Save the corks from bottles of wine enjoyed with friends and upcycle them into vegetable tags. Carefully slice one-fifth of the cork off to reveal a flat surface, then use a permanent marker to write each vegetable name on.

Use a wooden skewer pushed into the bottom of the cork to give your tag height, then pop into the ground when you're growing your veg to remind you of what's what.

12. Bring the indoors outdoors

Back view of garden furniture looking over a lawn

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One of the easiest ways to redecorate your patio or garden is to shift your indoor furniture outdoors. Think rugs and dining furniture, perhaps an easy-to-move armchair, loads of cushions and throws for when it the sun goes down... the options are endless.

Don't bother with anything too unwieldy, and be realistic – you won't fancy lugging it indoors at the end of the day, and light pieces are better for budget small garden ideas, too. Go for lightweight pieces that can be bundled up come evening time.

Doubling up your decor like this also makes the outdoors an extension of your home's interior, which is an ever-popular trend for gardens.

13. Use old guttering to plant up strawberries

strawberries plant planting in plastic guttering

(Image credit: Future PLC/ /Howard Walker)

Don't just chuck out old plastic guttering once it needs replacing, but use it as a cheap container for growing strawberry plants instead. Attach the guttering to the wall of your house or garage and arrange them in lengths on top of each other.

Not only will this make an attractive display, but it will also save you from having to bend over low flower beds and make the plants more accessible to pick once ripe.

14. Cover up a shabby patio

outdoor patio area with seating and black and white rug

(Image credit: Future PLC / Claire Lloyd Davies)

Rather than forking out for a new patio to be installed, simply disguise tired paving or a weathered deck with a colourful, all-weather rug.

The majority of outdoor rugs are made from woven polypropylene and come in a whole host of different patterns, bright colours or earthy neutrals and can be picked up for under £100.

Warmer and more comfortable underfoot than cold slabs, a rug is an easy way of bringing instant colour and pattern to an outside seating space and can make an eye-catching focal point to arrange garden furniture around. Durable and hard-wearing, they can be left outside during rain showers and are quick to dry.

15. Make a feature of your potting table

a potting table in a garden beside a grey painted fence

(Image credit: Joanna Henderson)

Experiment with feature wall ideas above a plain potting table by hanging garden-related bits and bobs on hooks and nails. Try an array of inexpensive bird boxes and a barometer if you have one (if not, try an antique shop). Finally, hang a few wire box shelves on the wall or fence and fill them with potted plants or herbs.

For even more storage, you could attach an iron or powder-coated utensil rail above the table and hang your most-used garden tools using S-hooks.

16. Create some instant (and inexpensive) shade

Outdoor terrace room with white fabric canopy, built in concrete seating, blue seat cushions, table and stools with plant print table cloth, patio

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you have a compact patio garden that's a bit of a sun trap, try 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 much-needed shade from the hot sun. You can buy affordable sail shades like the Triangle Waterproof Sail Shade at B&Q.

‘If you have a seating area but no room or budget for a parasol, try draping some white fabric or sheets in your garden to provide some respite from the sun as well as a stylish area to sit and relax,’ says stylist Charlie.

Get creative and try your own garden shade ideas using an old sail or sheet and attach it to a wall, tree or fence using a thin rope.

17. Add light and warmth after dark

Black rattan chair next to black metal firepit in outdoor living space in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Firepits are a brilliant focal point in a garden and prove an essential when the sun goes down and a chill sets in. Stylist and creative director Charlie agrees: ‘Looking for a change that you’ll enjoy past summer? Firepits are always a winner,’ she says.

They tend to be pricey though, so look out for summer sales (you'll easily snap one up at the end of the summer to use for next year) or try looking on Freecycle, Gumtree, Freegle and Facebook Marketplace to see if you can find a pre-used one on the cheap or even free of charge.

18. Snap up affordable furniture deals

A garden furniture set with an outdoor kitchen in the background

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Every now and then, a high street brand will bring out a piece of furniture that we'll do a total double take on – as in, 'Surely it costs more than that?'

Keep an eye on our garden furniture deals page to be in the know when the big retailers drop prices on their best pieces.

19. Create a gallery wall with planters

a garden wall covered in galvanised metal planters

(Image credit: Future/Tim Young)

Create a display of frames and wall-hung planters on an exterior wall in the same way that you would hang pictures inside. Old loaf tins make great planters – just remember to drill holes for drainage.

Stylist and creative director Charlie loves creating living walls in gardens: ‘They can literally be made from anything – old metal buckets, picture frames, tins, wooden pallets and so much more. Plant up with succulents or trailing plants or, better still, go for herbs for a lovely aroma.’

Garden designer Joel agrees: ‘I love finding pots and planters on auction sites like eBay and local pages on Facebook,’ he says. ‘Often, all you need is a little imagination. Yes, plants will grow in almost anything, but you need to choose the right plants and water and look after them.’

You can even fix a picture ledge or shelf along a wall above a garden sofa and arrange potted plants and outdoor sculptures on it to give the space an outdoor living room feel.

20. Open a DIY garden bar

garden bar wooden wall counter and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

Garden designer Joel loves garden bar ideas. ‘I build them everywhere,’ he says. ‘If they get people into – and using – a garden, then that’s good for humans and nature. They are surprisingly easy to make – you just need a table that’s elbow height. Why not clad yours with scrap wood?’

You could even fashion your own DIY garden bar with an upcycled wooden pallet, mounting it to the wall with a chain to drop down when required. It's cheap to make, and it'll save you a fortune from not spending on a pre-made bar island. Plus, you can make your own DIY pallet bar for as little as £35!

21. Paint a two-tone exterior wall

the rear of a property with a pergola overhead and a two toned striped wall

(Image credit: Little Greene)

When it comes to paint ideas for your home, the interior of a house seems to always get all the love. But who's the say that you can't do the same on your exterior garden wall?

This dado-high painted wall adds a touch of warmth and sophistication to the garden wall, providing the perfect backdrop for a makeshift alfresco breakfast bar.

To achieve this look, attach brackets and a shelf to an outside wall beneath an open window. Pull up some bar stools to make a fabulous spot for eating breakfast in the sun.

22. Smarten up a plain set of furniture

Grey rattan garden furniture seating area with outdoor colourful, patterned cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona (Bowen) Walker-Arnott)

If you don't have the budget to spend lots on garden furniture, you needn't worry. An inexpensive set, either bought in a sale or via eBay, can be livened up with accessories.

‘If you don’t have the budget for outdoor furniture, use outdoor cushions and rugs to create a relaxed sitting area – it’s a cheap and easy way of making your space useable, and there's no need for a large shed to store it all come winter,’ says stylist Charlie.

Gabrielle Anderson, outdoor living buyer at John Lewis & Partners agrees: ‘Textiles, such as cushions and throws, are another great way of adding colour on a budget, along with lanterns and outdoor rugs,’ says Gabrielle. 'Don’t be afraid to go bold with colourful accessories to create a vibrant space, using indoor-outdoor rugs to create zones.’

23. Use climbing plants to offer privacy

Flowering climbing plants and shrubs on garden fence

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Climbers, once planted, will stretch and grow to cover unsightly fencing or walls and provide lush, verdant borders to your outdoor space. Clematis is an excellent choice as it effortlessly weaves its way across surfaces and flowers beautifully in the summertime.

'If you're short on time but still want to enjoy beautiful blooms year after year, perennials are the perfect solution,' says Amy Stubbs from British Garden Centres.

'These low-maintenance plants are easy to grow and can be used as fillers in borders or planted in containers. Once established, they offer a range of colourful blooms and attract wildlife and pollinators to your outdoor space.'

24. Plant a tree to add some height to your space

olive trees in a garden beside fencing and lost of greenery

(Image credit: Future PLC / Claire Lloyd-Davies)

Before you point out that pre-grown trees can be super expensive, it's important to note that this idea is a slow burner.

Buy a small decorative tree, like an acer, palm, olive or apple – try Aldi and Lidl for affordable versions – and either plant it in the ground or pop it in a planter. The latter is a better option if you're renting so you can bring it with you when you eventually move.

Over the years, this small tree – with a little love – will grow to become a wonderful addition to your garden, adding colour and interest to a dull corner.

25. Go for a versatile bistro set

Metal bistro set table and chairs in garden surrounded by potted plants and climbing plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/www.ti-mediacontent.com)

‘Great-value bistro sets are perfect for balconies or smaller gardens. They are easy to fold away, too,’ says Gabrielle from John Lewis.

Francesca Morris, senior buyer at Garden Trading agrees: 'Having a small patio can be just as rewarding as a rambling garden when thoughtfully styled. The key to making the most of a small outdoor space is utilising flexible furniture with a slimmer silhouette – offering space to host a feast of drinks and nibbles but without looking bulky.

'Easy to tidy away at the end of an alfresco dinner party, folding bistro sets are a great option for those who want to utilise patios and verandas for multiple purposes throughout the warmer months and be able to switch between dining and lounging effortlessly.'

26. Whitewash your walls

budget garden ideas, porch idea with white wooden walls, neutral scheme with wood and white sofa, concrete and metal coffee table, basket with plant, graphic cushions, straw hats on wall, shutters, jute rug

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Giving your exterior walls a fresh coat of paint is one of the best and easiest budget garden ideas. It will instantly refresh them and give them protection against the weather when it changes next season.

White, as with interiors, will reflect and brighten the space and provide a neutral background for your outdoor dining scheme.

27. Impress guests with a multipurpose shed

grey garden shed black stools trolley and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

Create the perfect place to entertain by making your garden shed a multipurpose solution. Rather than disappear into the house every time another drink is needed, you can make cocktail hour an alfresco affair and open your shed out into a bar for garden parties.

Add a temporary surface to lean your drinks on and hang herbs from the roof to utilise as ingredients or garnishes for cocktails. Then, when the chillier weather sets in, you can return all the garden furniture to the shed for safekeeping until next year.

28. Green up your patio

Potted plants in the corner of a patio

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

For a modern scheme that may feel a little stark, add greenery in containers to create a more natural feel. They won't distract from a monochromatic scheme, but rather add an organic element.

Amy from British Garden Centres says, 'Creating beautiful arrangements of plants and pots can instantly enhance your outdoor area. Container gardening is effortless and efficient, as it eliminates the need for extensive digging and weed removal. You can simply plant your desired flora and relish in its beauty.

'Wasting water by showering the entire garden with a hose is a thing of the past. With containers, you can water your plants with precision, aiming water where it is needed most.'

29. Paint your exterior tiles

blue painted garden with two tone patio floor and an outdoor fireplace

(Image credit: Future/Claire Lloyd Davies)

Tired of your existing patio tiles but have no budget to revamp them? Consider painting them to make your patio look more expensive.

All you need is a good quality primer that you can apply once you've cleaned the area you want to paint and marked off the design. Once dry, paint your tiles in the chosen colour – make sure it's for outdoor use – and finish with a good quality sealant.

30. Try faux grass for value and ease

Walled garden with artificial grass, pink bench with colourful cushions, lanterns and a plastic windmill

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

While it’s easy to assume that designing a stylish, low-maintenance garden requires a significant investment, this doesn’t have to be the case. With a little thoughtful planning, it’s possible to create an inspiring space without breaking the bank.

Artificial grass provides the perfect solution for creating attractive, functional outdoor areas without the hassle and expenses associated with traditional lawn maintenance. Whilst it gives a similar underfoot sensation to the real thing, artificial grass is hard-wearing, long-lasting and fade-resistant.

'Once installed, artificial grass requires little upkeep. With minimal effort, such as occasional brushing and removal of dirt and leaves, it remains vibrant and natural looking all year round,' says Sarah Hooper, grass buyer at Carpetright.

31. Refresh your fence

black garden fence against green trees with festoon lighting hung along it

(Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole)

For an instant pick-me-up when the weather turns warmer, why not try painting the fence in a fresh pastel shade or a dramatic dark? An easy fix for weathered outdoor timber that’s looking a little jaded, such as fence panels and trellis, these garden fence ideas and spruce-ups can be completed in less than a day.

‘You should choose a paint colour that enhances your existing garden or terrace,’ says Aaron Markwell, COAT’s paint colour guru. 'Pairing smoky dark greens with black paint or a green-grey will make your plants pop and serve as a beautiful background for your outdoor furniture.

'Grey and green paint tones work perfectly outdoors and can create an illusion of space that can make a small garden feel bigger.’

32. Re-seed the lawn

garden grass area with black painted pergola seating area

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

If you love the idea of lush lawn ideas for summer picnics or for the kids to have a run-around, then you're in luck, as it’s cheap and relatively easy to create. While using rolls of turf may be quicker, it's definitely more expensive, so if you’re prepared to be patient, grass seed is the way forward.

You'll need to prepare the ground first, removing any weeds or stones and levelling it out before re-compacting it and raking over the top. Lawnmower manufacturer STIHL recommends 'seed coverage of 15g to 20g per sq metre' and warns that 'if the grass plants are sown too close together, they will impede each other's growth.' Water the seeds and keep them moist until they have properly germinated.

33. Create a candle centrepiece

candles in brown pots and plates

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

Use vintage terracotta pots to make a simple patio display. Fill the pots with sand and push in a selection of dinner candles.

Odd numbers feel visually balanced, so use three standard-sized candles or seven to nine skinny tapered ones.

Place on the table as a rustic centrepiece or along walkways to cast light and create a relaxed ambience. To repel insects, use candles that contain citronella.

34. Make beanbag floor cushions

garden grass with striped outdoor floor cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC / Simon Scarboro)

Rather than lug heavy floor cushions around the garden, opt for an easy-carry DIY version filled with lightweight polystyrene beads. Use brightly-coloured striped or floral fabrics and a PVC-coated fabric for the base so that the floor cushions will be waterproof.

Start by making a large square cushion shape using two large square pieces (for the top and bottom), joined together using four long pieces (to create the side gussets).

Use a sewing machine to join them together, adding a long zipper on one end gusset and then a small carry handle on the opposite end. Once complete, fill with bean bag beads through the back zipper opening.

35. Bring in easy-fit solar lighting

Home of lighting designer Sally Stone. Garden lighting

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Perfect for showcasing your garden’s best features, a few staked spotlights shining up through a tree or a sculpted shrub will transform it into a stunning focal point and add instant depth and drama. Alternatively, use them along the edge of a flower bed or path to define the area.

‘Subtle lighting is perfect for creating that romantic, magical feel,’ says stylist Charlie, ‘and solar lights are a great budget-friendly option.’

Garden designer Joel agrees,’ Solar lights are the way forward – you don’t even need to think about the wiring. Try using up-lighters to highlight planting, too.’

Solar spotlights can be placed in any sunny spot. Needing just 6-8 hours of daylight to charge fully, the rechargeable battery will store energy to illuminate the garden at night. Minus any irritating or ugly wires, they can simply be pushed into the ground or container where needed and even moved around if desired.

36. Go for a one-colour planting scheme

garden flower bed with white flowers and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC / Annaick Guitteny)

A super-simple way of making a style statement outdoors is by co-ordinating your planting scheme and keeping to a complementary palette of colours rather than a random mix.

Sticking to a single colour throughout beds and borders, such as all-white flowers and blooms, looks striking and can often be as beautiful as using many different colours.

Another way of creating a co-ordinated planting scheme is by repeating the same plants in various places throughout beds and borders. Try to arrange plants in small groups or clusters, where you can.

Odd numbers appear more natural and pleasing to the eye than even numbers, so aim for small plant groupings of three, five and so on. Repetition creates unity and will help to draw the eye more smoothly through the garden.

37. Make oversized planters

garden grass with large metal planters and small trees

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

Buying tubs and planters for the garden can cost a small fortune, especially when it comes to larger sizes. Try this purse-friendly idea for industrial-style planters that can be tailor-made in any size and are perfect for small trees or large shrubs.

Use sheets of corrugated steel bought from a DIY store or builders merchants and wrap a length into a large circle, then secure with roofing bolts into pre-drilled holes. Make sure that any ends are tucked inwards so that there are no sharp edges. Then, simply fill with a layer of hard core, top with soil and get planting.

38. Create a focal point

garden steps leading to path and painted wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Lizzie Orme)

Whether you have a small outdoor space or a rambling plot, giving the garden a focal point is a great way of creating a visual resting spot. Whether you add a bench or a small tree halfway down the garden, adding a focal point helps to draw the eye in and encourages further investigation.

Invite interest with a pathway, semi-secluded seating area or strategic planting that highlights a particular spot or lovely view. Consider adding a painted wall to create an endpoint at the bottom of the garden. Adding a backdrop helps to create a natural destination point that will encourage visitors to wander further in.

Don’t be tempted to overuse focal points, though – too many will create confusion, so limit the amount to just one or two.

39. Carve out a space for an outdoor kitchen

an outdoor kitchen on a patio with a bold tiled splashback and a Weber portable barbecue

(Image credit: Future/Jemma Watts)

Extend your cooking area into the garden with small outdoor kitchen ideas by adding a slim work surface along one side of a patio. It shouldn't cost a fortune, just some planks of wood, coated in an exterior paint will do the job for the time being.

Give it extra focus (and a stylish edge) by tiling directly onto the wall behind to create striking kitchen splashback ideas.

40. Create a free veg garden with kitchen scraps

mini vegetable garden brown pot and spade fork

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

If you want to grow your own on a budget, but don't really have space or the energy to plant and tend to a full-scale veggie patch, why not try a compact vegetable trug instead?

Marcus Eyles, horticultural director at Dobbies, suggests ways to grow vegetables from kitchen scraps. 'Spring onions and celery are two kitchen staples that are easy to regrow from their root base with a couple of inches of stem attached.

'Slice across the stems, then stand them root down in a shallow glass of water. When new roots appear, plant them out in the garden to grow on.

'For chillies and sweet peppers, collect their seeds and plant them directly into fresh compost. Then, leave them to grow on a warm sunny windowsill, watering regularly.'

41. Build a budget corner sofa

sofa seating with cushions designed flooring outdoor white table and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore)

Making your own furniture is always going to prove more budget-friendly – plus, you get exactly what you're looking for.

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. Ensure the base is securely fastened to the walls and well-supported beneath to take the weight when garden gatherings ensue.

‘It’s surprisingly easy to make a bench from railway sleepers,’ explains garden designer Joel, ‘but the trick is to paint any base or legs black and sand the top lighter, so it looks made and designed. Railway sleeper ideas give a garden structure and planting space, but try to work to the dimensions of the sleepers, rather than waste time, effort, and often money, cutting them to fit.’

42. Introduce plenty of pattern and colour

Blue garden furniture chair ready to be painted with orange, pink and blue cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

If you want to make your grassless garden ideas a little bolder, perk up your patio slabs with a splash of paint and a stylish stencil pattern. A striking floor will enable your furniture and outdoor accessories to shine brighter as a result of the backdrop.

Meanwhile, add a splash of bright colour behind your existing plants to help to breathe new life into your garden. Painting a feature wall in a bright colour such as a sunshine yellow will deliver huge impact without much budget or effort.

Be sure to paint with a specialist exterior shade like Cuprinol Garden Shades, available at Amazon, to ensure it's suitable for the space. Choose a coordinating colour palette for pots and garden accessories to create a cohesive look.

43. Upturn crates to fashion garden shelving

plants ladder and garden shelve

(Image credit: Future Plc/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 attaching the wooden crates securely to the fence behind, where possible. If being used as a freestanding storage unit, say in a shed, simply attach the crates to one another and ensure they are positioned safely, so they don't topple over.

44. Transform old shelves into a vertical herb garden

grey shelve with brown plant pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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 ladder if you don't have any old shelves lying around.

Hang it on a wall or fence close to where you have your barbecue so you can add fresh herbs to your grill as and when you need them.

45. Add instant colour with bedding plants

garden with plants and colourful flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Val Corbett)

A tray of Tagetes or Antirrhinum (snapdragons) will add instant colour to your front garden and bloom throughout the summer. Feed them weekly with tomato food in the summer and 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.


What is a low maintenance garden?

A garden that requires little maintenance can still be beautiful, you just need to set a few things in motion to get it started.

Evergreen plants and hardy shrubs will be your best friends, once in the ground they will do their thing and keep your garden looking lush. If you have a backyard and no lawn then opt for pots and fill them with bulbs during the winter and seedlings in spring. Both require little effort and the rewards will be seasonal flowers that don't need much care.

What is the cheapest way to surface a garden?

DIY garden landscaping ideas are how you do it 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 will also help save on garden landscaping costs.

How can I make my garden look nice on a 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.

Ginevra Benedetti
Deputy Editor (Print)

Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.  

With contributions from