How do you border a garden cheaply? 5 ways to brighten up your garden borders on a budget

Many of these options are completely free!

A garden path of pavers and gravel, with beds planted with alliums and flowering plants, and flowering plants on a trellis fence
(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Your garden borders offer the space needed to break up a blank canvas often dominated by green lawns or concrete patios. However, most people assume that bordering a garden is expensive and unattainable. So, how do you border a garden cheaply?

If you’ve added ‘tackle garden borders’ to your list of landscaping ideas to complete this year, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not as pricey as it may seem. Garden border ideas come in so many different shapes and forms, meaning you can choose to go as bold or as simple as your budget allows.

For the most part, though, you can border a garden by repurposing many items you already have lying around your home - from separating fully-grown plants to using leftover materials for garden edging. This is how you can do it. 

How do you border a garden cheaply?

To help you brighten up your garden borders on a budget, we’ve spoken to landscaping professionals for their expert opinion. And if you don’t have any of the items below at home already, we’ve found low-cost alternatives to keep the costs down as much as possible. 

1. Repurpose larger plants

A terraced garden, transformed from a sloping garden, with patio, seating area and steps

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

You can never have too many plants in a garden, right? And if you want to border a garden cheaply, plants are a great option.

Alick Burnett, managing director at Blooming Artificial, explains, ‘There are lots of budget-friendly options for bordering a garden. The most affordable option is to use plant edging. Just dig out your border space then, use some larger plants to define that border edge.’

However, you don’t necessarily need to buy all-new plants for this option. You could simply repurpose plants that you already have around your outdoor space by separating larger plants or transplanting them completely. 

‘Bushy grasses and shrubs are perfect for achieving this, but steer clear of ground cover as it could spread out of your border and into the rest of your garden,’ adds Alick. ‘You'll need to maintain your border with a lawn edger, but it's still a really affordable option.’

And if you don’t want to actively dig your garden, you could opt for a container garden border instead. In fact, Guy Barter, Chief Horticulturist at RHS, says, ‘One-litre potted perennials are always good value - they are usually well-known, reliable plants for a modest price: aquilegia, bergenia, echinacea, foxgloves and phlox.’

‘Even better, if you can find them, are perennials crammed in their pots after being in the garden centre for some months - they can be cut with a sharp knife into three or four segments. With luck, they might be in the clearance area for older stock.’

2. Go searching for free stones

Log store with white stones

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

If you want to create an intriguing garden border without spending any money at all, you might want to grab your wellies and head out on an adventure. 

Tom Clifford, garden landscaping expert from Gardenstone, says, ‘Use large stones or boulders to achieve a budget-friendly and unique garden border. Simply gather some large stones and place them in a row around the border of your lawn, or to separate a flower bed from the rest of your garden.’

‘These stones don’t have to be identical. In fact, the more diverse, the better, as this will create a visually interesting and unique feature within your garden.’

This idea is echoed by Johanna Elvidge, Head of Domestic Design at Marshalls, who encourages everyone to give the ‘boulder border’ a go.

‘The ‘boulder border’ garden edging design is straightforward to achieve, and just about anybody can construct it if done safely. All you need to do is source the rocks or river stones and place them on top of and next to each other along the perimeter of the garden edge.’

3. Repurpose materials for edging

One of the vegetable plots at RHS Chelsea 2023

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

The right garden edging can completely transform a garden border, especially if you don’t have the cash to fill it with plants. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this garden edging, though. In some cases, you can repurpose items you already have lying around the house or garage. 

Johanna says, ‘If you are looking for a great garden edging idea that won't break the bank, then the brick edge design is a good option. This type of garden edging design helps to distinctly create sharpness and clarity in your garden whilst providing a natural look.’

‘Firstly, dig a trench the size of the bricks, add sand to the bottom and then lay the bricks next to one another while double-checking that they are all evenly placed.’

If you don’t have any spare bricks in the garage, though, have a look around and see if you have any leftover chicken wire lying around. 

'Using green wire mesh or fencing not only adds a rustic appeal to your garden but is a budget-friendly option that creates a reliable barrier,' explains Paul McFadyen, Chairman of metals4U.

‘Chicken wire, welded wire fencing, or even wire mesh panels can be bent and shaped to create curved and straight borders for your  garden beds, with added features such as thoughtful planting to add a warm charm to your sleek border.’

Even if you can’t repurpose items for your edging, you can still pick up garden edging options on a budget. 

4. Know where to shop

hazel stem lattice fence at Chelsea Garden Show 2023

(Image credit: Future PLC/Heather Young)

When you want to add some colour or texture to your garden border, you might jump in the car and head to the nearest garden centre chain. 

But as Steve from LeisureBench says, ‘Border/edging plants are a great way to border a garden and breathe some life into it at the same time, but this might not be the cheapest and easiest option on the list.’ 

However, ditching the garden centre and shopping elsewhere could help you save some money. Guy urges, ‘Shop local. Local nurseries often sell plants loose in trays of segments or in small pots. Nurseries can be intimidating places for inexperienced gardeners, but the owners are full of knowledge and will do their best to help.’

That’s not the only option for buying cheap garden border plants, though. Guy also suggests keeping your eyes peeled when you next visit an outdoor attraction or garden. 

‘Gardens that open to the public usually raise extra funds by selling plants at a modest cost,’ he says. ‘They might grow plants for this purpose or split segments of their most prolific specimens. If there is something you like to look at, ask if they can spare some, for a contribution, of course.’

5. Build raised beds

Balcony with metal bistro set beside raised beds

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

No-dig gardening is becoming more and more popular, with many people choosing to leave their shovels in the shed and opt for raised garden beds instead. This is also a great option for those looking to border their garden cheaply, as you can often do this with just a few pounds in your pocket. 

While most people use railway sleepers or cheap wood from DIY shops to build raised garden beds, you don’t have to spend any money at all if you have leftover decking or pallets gathering dust in the shed. 

Johanna says, ‘This design is relatively easy to achieve. It's achieved by using thin strips of wood and looks quite simplistic and neat. If you are looking for a budget lawn edging idea, this is it. If you want a more creative and colourful design, why not brighten your wood-edged design with a splash of bright paint?'

Then, you can fill the raised borders with as many or as little plants as you want. Alternatively, you could skip the plants and opt for a water feature or statue. 

Of course, you may assume that filling a raised bed will cost you a fortune in compost - but that’s not the case. There are so many ways to fill a raised bed without using compost, including many things you already have lying around the house, such as cardboard and food waste. 


What is the easiest edging to install?

No-dig edging is generally considered to be the easiest edging to install, as it comes with in-built stakes that can simply be hammered into the ground. 

No-dig edging also comes in many different forms, including plastic edging and wooden edging. Because of this, you can choose an aesthetic and style that matches the rest of your garden. 

How do you make a low-maintenance garden border?

If you want a low-maintenance garden border, it’s best to opt for fewer plants and instead focus on a few low-maintenance plants and other decorations - such as gravel or stone edging. This way, you can just leave it to its own devices without having to worry about pruning or moving crowded plants.

If you can, it’s also a good idea to install a weed barrier and garden edging to reduce the chances of weed growth. 

Now you know how to border a garden cheaply, it’s time to get started!

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.