Garden bar ideas on a budget - affordable ways to create a summer drinking spot

Get our top tips for making your own garden bar perfect for entertaining outside

Garden bar ideas on a budget Garden bar made of pallet
(Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore)

With the second heatwave of the summer already treating us with its presence, we're all keen to make the most of it and entertain friends and family outside. Garden bar ideas on a budget are ideal to help celebrate the good weather without breaking the bank.

So if you're looking for garden bar ideas, to really get the party started, then you've come to the right place.

While outdoor kitchen ideas are proving hugely popular for many this summer, as alfresco dining becomes more possible, creating garden bar ideas on a budget makes for the dream pairing. Just imagine sipping on that home-made Aperol Spritz or refreshing Watermelon cooler, while perched on a bar stool in your own backyard- sounds ideal to us!

And you don't need a huge space to build one, even small patios and balcony gardens can benefit from a DIY garden bar so read on to find out how you can craft yours.


Garden bar ideas on a budget

While there are plenty of garden bar ideas out there to inspire you, some can cost hundreds if not thousands of pounds. With the costs of living rising, we all need to look at more budget garden ideas to keep a handle of our finances so these garden bar ideas on a budget, should help you do just that. 

1. Make a pallet bar

Garden bar ideas on a budget Pallet bar

(Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young)

This is a great garden bar idea on a budget that works for any sized space! All you need is a wooden pallet, some time and the smallest of DIY know-how.

To make your own little entertaining zone, cut the top section off a pallet to use as the flip-down surface and attach using two strong hinges and chains. Add a black-painted plank of wood to act as your serving board.

Once you get the bug for making pallet garden furniture, they'll be no stopping you!

2. Work with a tall table

Garden bar ideas on a budget Tall table from Dobbies

Alps 6 seater bar table, £1,599, Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

Ok, so to buy this brand new, this garden bar idea on a budget is NOT so budget, but what we're suggesting is to work with a tall table you already have. 

Rather than having to buy or make a garden bar, look to what you already have in your garden and adjust its use.

Particularly popular for patio or decking spaces,  a tall table can easily be pushed to one side of your outdoor space and be used as a bar area for serving or making drinks. Add a couple of high stools in front and you've got yourself an alfresco drinking spot in an instant, perfect for garden party ideas!

3. Give the shed a new purpose

Garden bar ideas on a budget Garden shed with shelf and open hatch

(Image credit: Future Plc/Joanna Henderson)

Clear out the garden tools and transform a humble garden shed into a spectacular drinking spot for your own garden. Cut in a serving hatch and create a bar top to welcome guests to perch on barstools while serving drinks from the other side. Hang party signs and bunting to signify where the party's at. 

Surround with potted plants as a reminder of its roots, of a simple garden a fine drinking establishment for the garden.

Plus there are plenty more garden shed ideas to inspire your space, this is just the start!

4. Keep it simple with a shelf

Garden bar ideas on a budget garden shelf for drinks

(Image credit: Future Plc)

Got yourself a bijou balcony or a cosy courtyard garden? Then maybe opt for just a shelf to act as your garden bar idea on a budget. A simple shelf can be attached to a wall, sturdy fence or even the side of a shed and play host to all your drinking paraphernalia.

Just grab yourself an ice bucket, a chic chopping board, a cake stand layered with fruit and some sort of raised platform (an upside down crate will do the job). Then pop a jug full of Pimms or a drinks dispenser filled with your fav tipple on top and let your guests help themselves. 

5. Construct a tiki bar out of bamboo

Garden bar ideas on a budget make a tiki bar from bamboo

(Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore)

This garden bar idea on a budget is one for the more DIY savvy. It might look complicated, but actually this Tiki bar has been made from a simple wooden structure that has then been covered in bamboo screens.

The roof has been constructed by fixing planks of wooden into a triangular roof shape, and then covered with thatched grass or palm leaves.

Fairy lights have been wrapped around each of the supporting posts and high bar stools have been positioned in front, perfect for guests hoping to order a sundowner or two.

Just don't forget to create space to actually get inside, whether with a secret door, or by entering from the back.

6. Use up leftover paint

Garden bar ideas on a budget paint it black with paint

RAL 7016 Anthracite grey wood paint, £50 for 2.5L, Thorndown Paints

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

You might already have a garden bar, aka a Covid Cabin that was built in lockdown. But by now it's probably looking a little tired and in need of a bit of love. 

So a great way to transform a tired garden bar is with a fresh lick of paint, perhaps in a chic black-grey hue like this one here. But to keep costs down, opt to use up paint you already have left over, and finish with a clear varnish.

Check the weather looks clear before getting started and sand down any rough patches or previous loose coatings.

If you need a little reminder of how to paint a shed, read up on that first.

Ben Thornborough, co-founder of Thorndown paints says, 'Apply your first coat of wood paint using a high-quality paint brush, roller or sprayer and leave to dry for one to two hours. If you’re leaving the paint to dry in the sunshine, it will dry much quicker.'

'After you have applied a second coat, leave this to dry for at least 12 hours. While it might feel dry, the curing/fixing process takes a lot longer and the more time you give it, the better.'

How do you make an inexpensive outdoor bar?

Firstly, check out our garden bar ideas on a budget above and hopefully one will inspire your own. If you're feeling crafty, look to what materials you have already for free and see if your DIY skills lend themselves to getting busy with a hammer and saw.

There are plenty of upcycling ideas for the garden you can adopt and making your own garden bar idea on a budget is just one of them.

Search on second-hand sites and in the local newspaper for anyone that might be offloading theres to see if you can pick up a bargain.

Take another look at your shed and see if you can work out how to adapt it to become your own watering hole.

How do I build a small garden bar?

As long as you can get your hand on some wood (wood pallets are usually easily enough to come by!) then you can set about making your own small garden bar in no time. Just make sure to position it in a suitable spot that lends itself to entertaining and treat and bare wood with a varnish, woodpaint or wax to protect it from the elements.

Think outside the box- even an old wendy house, or tired set of shelves can be made into a garden bar, so get creative!

What do you put in a garden bar?

The obvious item to fill a garden bar with is a selection of your favourite drinks! If the bar is close to power, you could add a small fridge, but if not, an ice bucket will do. You'll need an array of glasses, plus some cocktail equipment like a boston shaker, stirrers and jiggers. 

You can even go so far as rigging up some spirit dispensers inside your garden bar, Amazon have a good selection.

Finally don't forget some cocktail umbrellas for your glasses and some fairy lights to create a party mood!

Happy sipping! 

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.