Brilliant budget garden ideas – 45 ways to update your outdoor space

You won't need to break the bank with these tips, tricks and ideas for getting your garden summer-ready

The weather might have got us all in a spin, but that doesn't mean our gardens have to look that way! We've got plenty of great budget garden ideas to give yours a seasonal refresh, ready for hosting family and friends, come rain or shine.

Whether you're looking to make beds beautiful, planters perfect or even seating stunning, follow our top tips to transform your garden space in just a few hours.

Start by checking what needs your attention first. If your garden fencing is in need of repairing or painting, or your garden edging seems overly messy it can impact upon the whole space. Breathing new life into your back garden, or front garden, for that matter, doesn't always require a landscape gardener and huge costs– as these brilliant budget garden ideas prove.

Budget 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.

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. 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 in lengths sat on top of each other. Not only will this make an attractive display, it will also save you from having to bend over low flower beds, and makes the plants more accessible to pick once ripe.

2. Make a planter with built-in drainage

flower plant in hanging blue pot with chains

(Image credit: Future PLC /Howard Walker)

Another great way 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 water logged. Plant it up with a mixture of flowering plants and trailing plants to make a beautiful display.

3. Bring your inside furniture, out!

wooden table and chairs and plants outdoor

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

Save money and space, by bringing out your indoor chairs and side tables, and setting them up in a sunny spot in the garden. Ok so this isn't ideal if you live in a high-rise flat, but if you can save on doubling up on seating that spends the majority of it's life tucked away in a shed, you're winning right? Think wicker chairs on your balcony, rattan numbers on the patio and cool cane armchairs nestled among the flora.

4. Make vegetable tags from corks

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 permanant 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 what's what.

5. Make a pallet planter

wooden pallet planter in garden

(Image credit: My Thrifty Life/Cassie Fairy for Mano Mano)

Make a planter which can also double as a privacy screen, using a few old pallets (and a bit of DIY knowledge). A planter is super versatile and can be filled with flowers to add colour to the garden, herbs for those looking to 'grow your own', and if you add some taller plants, it can also act as a privacy screen to zone spaces or divert prying eyes. Check out Mano Mano (opens in new tab) for the step-by-step guide.

6. 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 candle that contain citronella essential to deter pesky mosquitoes.

7. Make a plant marker

plant maker white plate with plant tags

(Image credit: Future PLC /Tim Young)

Prettify your pots with slate labels. Never confuse your chives with your chervil again by creating handy 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.

8. Beachcomb for garden materials

garden with plants and green grass

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Repurposing is always a winning way to cut down costs when it comes to seeking out  garden materials. In this landscaped garden the planting is highlighted by recycled whelk shells, lighting up the ground underneath the Acer tree at the back of the garden. The intention is to make a feature of the hero tree, and to hide the dark soil beneath.

9. Create a free vegetable garden with kitchen scraps

mini vegetable garden brown pot and spade fork

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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?

Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director, Dobbies (opens in new tab) Garden Centres 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' he explains. '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.'

10. Preserve planting with 1p coin trick

garden house trees and pathway

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Do garden tips get much better than this 1p wonder from celebrity gardener David Domoney (opens in new tab)?! Appearing on This Morning he explains, 'I'm often asked 'How do you tell if a plants alive or dead at this time of year if it hasn't come into leaf?'. His response, 'All your need is an expensive bit of equipment' he jests, as he goes on to explain, 'it costs a penny, it is a penny!'

He goes on to demonstrate how you use the 1p coin to scrape away a small patch of the bark on a branch, to determine the health of the plant. If it's brown, it's dead and if it's green or white (depending on the branches) it's still alive and well. This simple garden hack instantly tells you which plants are alive or dead.

11. Upcycle to make brilliant budget furniture

yellow pallet table plate with spoon and flower pot

(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.

12. 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 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.

13. Paint the patio

outdoor seating with wooden chair table plants and designed flooring

(Image credit: Dobbies)

If you want to make your grassless garden ideas a little bolder, 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.

14. 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 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.

15. Open a DIY garden bar

garden bar wooden wall counter and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

After a long day of work in the garden, a cheeky G&T may be just the thing you need. Fashion your own DIY garden bar with an upcycled wooden pallet mounted to the wall with a chain to drop down when required. Cheap to make, plus it'll save you a fortune from not spending at the local. Plus you can make your own DIY pallet bar – for as little as £35!

16. Invigorate with a simple splash of colour

plants in colour pots and designed flooring

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Adding a splash of bright colour behind your existing plants will help to breathe new life into your garden. Painting a feature wall in a bright colour, such as this sunshine yellow, will deliver huge impact without much  budget or effort. Be sure to paint with a specialist exterior paint to ensure it's suitable for the space. Choose a coordinating colour palette for pots and garden accessories, to create a cohesive look.

17. Organise garden twine

teal colour wall garden twines threads scissor and brown pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

18. Use old wine corks to elevate plant pots

outdoor chair with cushion and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

We've picked this tip up via Love Your Garden’s celebrity gardener David Domoney. On his Instagram David writes, ‘Use wine corks, instead of buying pot feet for containers. By elevating your pot you’re creating a gap between the container and the patio allowing the pot to drain effectively and preventing the soil from getting waterlogged’. Drinking wine to help the garden, it's a win win.

19. Make your own free plant food

brick and plant in black water bucket

(Image credit: Future PLC)

On Gardening Together with Diarmuid Gavin on BBC2, a must-watch for any keen gardener, Diarmud showed fans how to use nettles for a greater good in the garden – by making nettle soup for plants. 'The idea is to make a wonderful plant food. All you do is pop a handful of nettles into a bucket of water (preferably collected rain water) and pop on the lid for 2 weeks.

20. 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 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.

21. 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 pallet or ladder if you don't have any old shelves lying around.

22. Repurpose peg rails

red brick wall bulbs and plant with colourful pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jamie Mason)

Repurpose old peg rails into a striking outdoor lighting fixtures. 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.

23. Make a shed multipurpose

grey garden shed black stools trolley and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

24. Reuse old pans as planters

blue container with plant and flower

(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.

25. Dress the garden with indoor accessories

white paneled wall brown chair plant and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

26. Paint your house number on plant pots

brown pots with plant and flower

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

The ideal front garden idea, painting your house number onto plant pots 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.

27. Fashion a plant display using old ladders

wooden triangle shelve with colourful plants pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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!

28. Power up solar lights for ambience

glass jar solar light and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Fairy lights in the garden help to add ambience. This clever fairy light 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.

29. Add interest to walls with framed plants

brick wall with designed frames and plant

(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.

30. Upcycle an old cabinet into a potting table

cream colour panel wall black side board with pink drawer and plants pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

31. Lay a path made from old bricks

plant with orange and white flowers and brick pathway

(Image credit: Future PLC)

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.

32. 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. 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.

33. Perk up a patio with a rug

outdoor floor seating with designed cushion and wooden table plant

(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.

34. Impress guests with an outdoor bar

garden with outdoor bar chairs and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

35. Use plastic bottles as containers

wooden shelf with plants in bottle pot

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

36. Hang baskets filled with blooms

hang basket on white wall and flower plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

37. Turn your shed into a summerhouse

white wooden wall with red desk window chair and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

38. Create a bird feeder

cup tied to branch with thread for birds food

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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'!

39. Paint the fence

wooden blue fence with wire light and shelf with plant pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

40. Upcycle drawers to create a unique planter

open drawer with flowers plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

41. Create an inexpensive awning

garden deck with blue wall plants white bench with cushions and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC)

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, or get creative and make your own garden shade ideas out of an old sail or sheet.

42. Opt for a one-colour wonder

blue chair in garden with plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Paint everyone in one colour, save buying more than one tin. 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.

43. Repurpose old food tins

wooden net wall colouful tins with plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Turn kitchen waste in garden wonders. For the planters, make drainage holes in the base of each can with a bradawl and a single hole 1.5cm from the top edge. Spray with 2 coats of paint (we used Plasti-kote spray paints) and, once dry, thread wire through the top hole as a hanger. Fill with plants of your choice.

As lanterns, draw a pattern on the can using a Sharpie pen then punch along the lines with a bradawl. Punch two holes near the top edge at opposite sides for the hanger. Spray with two coats of paint and loop the wire through the top holes as a hanger.

44. Transform a plain wall with a mural

outdoor nature painting on brick wall and plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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.

45. Boost seating with colourful cushions

blue metal chair in garden with designed cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ 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?

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.

Additional words: Holly Walsh

Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.