10 Ways to Transform and Enjoy Your Garden on a Budget

a mediterranean inspired garden with white gravel, eucalyptus trees and lots of festoon lights and lanterns

Recently, we’ve spent a lot more time outside and started to look at ways to transform our garden on a budget. I’ve never been much of a gardener, I always found it a little overwhelming and wanted a minimalist look (probably more due to the fact that it always looked like hard work!)

I just didn’t know where to start when it came to planting flowers and pruning trees so left it well alone! We mowed our lawn and stuck a few plants in some pots and hoped for the best, only to find that most plants had died over the winter and the lawn looked like someone had given it a comb-over!

I started researching gardening on a budget to get some ideas to improve our outdoor space.

a garden with freshly laid lawn
The lawn lasted 1 winter!

Every year I’ve upped my game a little, and this year is no exception. I have plenty of small garden ideas on a budget to share, so read on to see how to transform your garden and save pennies or if you are having trouble selling or getting viewings for your property!

the back of a house with extension and bifold doors
The back of our garden looked a bit meh and definitely needed some garden ideas!

Creating a Garden on a Budget

I never really gave our garden much thought when we first moved into this house. It was a large space and great for our kids to run around in.

However, in 2022 we started spending a lot more time in our garden and we started looking at ways to improve it. We had some glorious weather, so spent a few weeks out in the garden digging, pruning, and thinking of ways to improve our garden space

From small garden ideas to gardening on a budget, here are some projects to get you started. 

1. Clean Your Patio or Decking

Von Haus pressure washer on decking in the garden
Using a pressure washer to clean can instantly update your garden on a budget

Start by removing all furniture, potted plants, and any other accessories from your patio, and use a broom to sweep away leaves, dirt, and other debris. You might also need to pull up any plants or weeds that have grown in between the patio slabs.

Mix a cup of bleach with a gallon of water in a bucket to create a powerful cleaning solution. If you prefer a more natural method, you can use a mixture of white vinegar and water. Always wear protective gloves when handling bleach. Using the same brush, you can then use the cleaning solution to scrub the patio or decking.

Once you are happy you have scrubbed as best you can, rinse the patio with a garden hose or a pressure washer on a low setting, making sure all of the cleaning solution is washed away.

If the cleaning solution has still left stubborn stains, it might be best to use a pressure washer. Stand at a safe distance and point the washer at the surface. Start at the lowest part of the area you’re cleaning if you’re washing a vertical surface. For horizontal surfaces like driveways or patios, you might want to work in sections.

Spray at a slight angle rather than directly head-on, which can help lift and remove dirt. Move the spray in a consistent, sweeping motion, keeping the nozzle at a consistent distance from the surface. Just remember not to let the stream stay in one place for too long to avoid damaging the surface.

2. Spruce Up a Tired Patio or Decking By Painting It!

Painted decking with Cuprinol paint and stencilled design. Argos garden furniture, sunflowers and the table laid for lunch
If you’re looking for small garden ideas, I love the idea of sprucing up your patio with paint!

We had new decking put down about 3 years ago and it did not fare well after a few winters. I looked at many different ways to tidy it up and decided to paint a mosaic pattern on it using Dizzy Duck Designs stencils and Cuprinol paint and was thrilled with the results.

I wrote a blog post on how to stencil your decking last summer and there have been some wonderful creative decking and patio designs since.

painted and stencilled patio in the garden with a tasseled parasol, black painted fence and garden furniture
Hayley hand-painted her garden patio herself with fabulous results! Lots of small garden ideas here. Image credit: @iamhayleystuart

You don’t have to attempt to stencil your space, just a lick of paint will instantly freshen up your decking or patio and is a quick way to update your garden on a budget. If you’re passionate about gardening and landscaping, you might consider exploring estate gardener jobs in Scotland to put your green thumb to good use.

Painted patio in a monochrome design with rattan garden furniture and wooden table
Cheap garden ideas – using paint and off-cut wood to transform your patio
garden, gardening, budget garden, garden ideas, lawn, grass, budget decor, diy, garden details, plants
Painting your decking a different shade automatically makes the greenery and furniture pop. Image credit: Cuprinol

3. Tidy Up Flower Beds and Weeds and Add Some Colour

Budget small garden ideas include buying ready-made flower border collections delivered straight to your door! Hardy Perennial Plant Lucky Dip – yourgarden.com

If you are looking for small garden ideas, tidying up your borders and flower beds is the easiest way to spruce up your garden on a budget! Try to pull weeds up from the roots so that they don’t grow back.

If you want to stop weeds or grass from growing in your flower beds, have a go at lawn edging and give them a border with something simple like bricks, sleepers, or concrete blocks.

Refreshing your flower beds can make a huge difference in your garden’s overall appearance. Trim back any dead or overgrown branches on your plants to encourage new growth. Be careful to follow specific pruning instructions for each type of plant, as some plants don’t react well to being pruned at certain times of the year.

To add color, select a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year, this will provide color throughout the seasons. You can also think about color schemes: do you want a range of complementary colors, or would you prefer a monochromatic scheme? Some plants, like pansies, marigolds, or petunias, are renowned for their vibrant colors.

Also, consider adding some perennial plants, which will return year after year. If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of online companies that offer a plant service, where they will group plants and flowers into collections and deliver them to your door with instructions!

Once you’ve tidied up and added new plants, regular maintenance will help keep your flower beds looking their best. This includes regular watering, deadheading flowers to encourage new blooms, and keeping an eye out for pests.

If you need to quickly remove waste when transforming your garden, it’s great to invest a small amount of money in ordering a skip bin. This will help free up your time and energy in disposing of no longer-needed items in your garden.

4. Add Color By Painting Your Fence or Shed

a blue fence and gravel patio area in the garden

A quick and easy way to add impact and color to your garden is to paint your garden shed or fence. Different fence paint colors can make the difference between a garden looking small, or huge! It’s all a matter of perception.

Investing in lighter colors such as beige, pink, and baby blue, gives the illusion that your garden is much larger than it actually is. Darker colors can have the opposite effect, making your garden look more compact due to the distinct change in color compared to the grass.

Experimenting with different hues can truly transform your outdoor space. Reliable providers like Viking Fence offer a variety of fencing options, including vinyl fencing, to complement your garden’s design, if you are looking to replace or add a fence.

So why not try something new and give a new fence paint color a go? There are plenty of affordable options out there, so you can find the perfect one for your garden. No longer are the shelves stocked with just brown, light brown, or a different shade of brown. You can find anything from Iris blue to bright pink which is a great idea for gardening on a budget. 

a wood fence with different color paints on it
Deciding on paint colors for my garden

We painted our fence dark blue last summer and I haven’t regretted it since, it’s a beautiful shade and really makes the plants and trees pop against it. 

Storage sheds are also an important garden addition as they provide valuable storage space for garden tools, equipment, and supplies. They offer protection and shelter from the elements and ensure your tools and equipment remain in good condition and last longer, saving you money in the long run! 

Sheds also look good painted in a different color. If you don’t own a garden shed I highly recommend you build one with this step-by-step guide.

a dark blue fence in the garden
Going with dark blue!
a black fence in the garden with bay trees and a dining set
A black fence can really add a dramatic backdrop to our garden. Image credit: @skovbon
a black shed with outdoor mirrors and a cosy corner sofa in the garden
The painted black shed and mirrors add a wonderful touch to the corner of this garden. Image: feather_and_faff_interiors

5. Repair and Paint Pots

Painting or decorating tired plant pots and repairing ones that have not made it through the winter can help transform your garden on a budget. I love terracotta plant pots, but you can paint tired pots bright colors to add interest to the garden.

We are trying to move away from plastic pots in our garden, you can create pots out of many things including welly boots, pots or pans, and hanging baskets out of sieves!

plant pots painted with garden paint
Brightly colored plant pots and fairy garden. Image credit: Cuprinol

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6. Add Lighting

a garden table with festoon lights hanging above it
A festooningly beautiful setting. Image: Lights4Fun

Last year, adding lighting to our garden was an absolute revelation and completely transformed our outdoor living. It is such a quick and easy way to transform your garden on a budget. 

Not only does it look wonderful at night, but it can also provide a wonderful decorative feel during the day.

Adding wicker and glass lanterns, oversized candles, hurricane lamps, and fairy and festoon lights to your seating space or just wrapped around the tree, can provide an instant uplift to your garden.

a stencilled decking with garden furniture and firepit
Festoon lights look just as good during the day as they do at night. Lights: Wilko

There is an abundance of solar-paneled lighting online these days so you don’t have to worry about your electric bill, with some of my favorites being the solar festoon lights from Wilko and battery-powered outdoor fairy lights from Lights4fun.

a corner of a garden at dusk with garden lighting and a large corner sofa
We transformed our garden on a budget by using things we already had!

7. Add Mirrors or Decorative Features

a garden with a black painted fence, large outdoor mirror and comfy seating
Image credit: @theresa_gromski

Mirrors are not just for the home! If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to transform your garden on a budget, these are just the thing. You can get a great range of outdoor mirrors online that you can hang up in your garden.

This helps bounce the light around if you have a particularly shady or dark spot in your garden and can make the space appear bigger, as in the home.

a mirror in a garden
Folly outdoor mirror from Cox & Cox

If you are looking for simple small garden ideas, you can buy items like multi-colored lanterns and ornamental wooden or rustic stars to hang from the trees or fences. Other ideas include: 

  • DIY bird feeder
  • Painted rocks
  • Upcycle old pieces like turning a wooden ladder into a plant stand
  • Recycled bottle wind chimes
  • Old tire planters
  • Mosaic stepping stones
  • Garden clocks
a garden clock
Warwick Outdoor Garden Clock With Thermometer – Westminster Store

8. Paint Your Garden Furniture

a garden table with blue painted legs
Just painting this garden table’s legs blue, has instantly given it a contemporary lift. Easy garden design ideas on a budget! Image: Little Greene

Is your garden furniture looking a little sorry for itself after 8 months of heavy winter rain? I know ours certainly was. A bit like your fence or shed, there are so many fabulous paint products out there these days, you can paint your furniture an array of magnificent colors.

Maybe paint a small garden planter a bright pop of pink to add color to your garden, or give your bench or dining set a new lease of life by choosing one of the fab colors on offer from Cuprinol, Ronseal, and Rust-oleum.

It doesn’t even have to be expensive garden furniture, the popularity of using old wooden pallets to create seating and garden tables is on the rise and you could paint these to freshen them up. Gardening on a budget couldn’t be easier!

a wooden pallet painted green with castors in the garden
An old wooden pallet is given a new lease of life with a lick of green paint, perfect for gardening on a budget. Image: @fijninhuis

9. Cosy Up Your Seating Area

Once you’ve spruced up your garden furniture, you can make it a completely cozy outdoor space by adding lots of soft furnishings to your seating area like throws and cushions and perhaps an outdoor rug!

This has become a big trend in recent years with brands such as Wayfair, La Redoute and Maisons du Monde all selling outdoor rugs. They have plenty of garden ideas and products to suit all styles.

a boho garden with stone flooring, concrete table and cozy seating
Kyla shows how adding soft furnishings and an outdoor rug can transform your outdoor space, providing lots of small garden ideas! Image credit: @kylamagrathinteriors
a selection of outdoor rugs
Wayfair has a huge selection of outdoor rugs available

10. Divide the Garden Into Zones.

And finally, if you are like me and find gardening a bit overwhelming and don’t know where to start, divide your garden into zones and tackle each area one at a time.

Start with a seating area so you can make the most of your garden and make sure it is somewhere you want to sit (not like us when we spent a fortune having new decking created in a permanently shaded area)!

outdoor furniture on a patio with olive trees
For small garden ideas, add patio furniture and a few plants in pots La Redoute Aurelia Bistro set

Create a divide from the seating area to the lawn with lots of potted plants, bamboo screens, or ornamental grasses. With a seating area created, you can then sit there with a G&T and admire all your hard work in the garden!

So, what garden ideas are you going to tackle first? We are in the middle of creating a new seating zone in our garden and I can’t wait to enjoy it this summer.

Q. How to make your garden look nice with no money?

A. The best thing to do is to reuse and recycle! Find new uses for items you already have such as old buckets, containers, or even pieces of furniture that can be repurposed as planters. Broken ceramics can become decorative mosaics and old bricks can create borders and planters. 

You could trade plants with friends, neighbors, or family. It’s a cost-effective way to introduce new plants to your garden while also getting rid of surplus plants. If this doesn’t work, learn how to propagate your plants. Many plants can be grown from cuttings, seeds, or division, it’s a great way to get new plants for free.

Q. How to make a cozy corner in your garden on a budget?

A. Look for a corner or a space in your garden that gets a good amount of shade and sun. You’ll also want some privacy, so a spot that’s a bit hidden is a bonus. You can use anything from garden chairs, and benches, to an old indoor armchair that’s still serviceable but maybe not house-worthy anymore.

You could also consider DIY pallet furniture, it’s affordable and customizable, just add some outdoor cushions for comfort. Adding a small table can be useful, you can repurpose items like an old tree stump, a crate, or a small ladder to serve as a table. It can hold your coffee, book, or some potted plants.

Q. How to make a small garden look bigger?

A. Creating an illusion of more space in a small garden can be achieved through smart design and strategic planting. Utilize your vertical space with climbing plants, trellises, or vertical planters, this draws the eye upwards, creating a feeling of more space.

Divide your garden into distinct areas or ‘rooms’ using a trellis, screens, or planting. This can make your garden feel larger as it gives the impression that there’s more to discover.

Finally, mirrors can make a space look bigger and brighter, and gardens are no exception. Use weather-resistant mirrors designed for outdoor use. Perfect for gardening on a budget!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, please read my full affiliate disclosure here

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25 Comments

  1. Simply wonderful, entertaining, enlightening and informative! Now where do I begin! Thank you for sharing your resources as that’s half the battle. I’m inspired

    1. Thanks for reading Sally. We’ve really enjoyed transforming our garden this spring 🙂

      1. Really enjoy reading your tips. Have a corner in our garden which needs help please. Two red brick walls and other side has a conservatory wall. Just enough room for a bench width ways but goes back a couple of feet. Many thanks

        1. Could you perhaps turn it into a little cottage/court yard garden? Cosy it up with a patio set and perhaps hang flower baskets from the walls? Or maybe drape some festoon lights from one wall to another to make it a really cosy corner in the evenings. You could even put a small corner sofa in there and make it totally cosy. 🙂

  2. Hello, can you come and do mine now olease? If you like a challenge! You can take photos and publish. Please say YES ☺️

    1. Haha! Thanks Nadine. I think once you get some inspiration and mood boards sorted out, the rest will come easily. Take your time! Mel 🙂

  3. I loved reading this. Inspired by painting a brick wall a lovely dark blue and decking with the cool pattern, instead of plain paint. No to get him to work 😉

    1. Hi Lizzie

      A friend of mine has just painted her white brick wall dark blue and it looks amazing! They have also had new decking laid and she bought a huge patterned outdoor rug to put on top which has a brilliant effect (and if I was to have decking again, I think this is what I would do instead of painting it! So much easier). Mel 🙂

  4. Hi Melanie, very inspiring piece, do you know what the pavers are in the pic with the gorgeous big mirror? I am looking for a cheaper alternative to Yorkstone?

    1. Hi Melanie,
      I love your designs! They are so creative and earthy. Can you help me with my backyard? Do you charge a fee for your consultation?
      Thank you ,
      Julie

  5. Your ideas and finished design results are so inspirational.
    I wish I had seen all this when I was able to garden . Now its a thorn in my side. But you give Hope xx

  6. Great ideas…but I didn’t really see that you changed YOUR garden…and your new furniture is anything but budget! Those photos of other people’s gardens were nice though.

    1. I hardly think painting your fence is expensive?? And I didn’t say I was changing MY garden, I said YOURS as in the general public. Did you get up on the wrong side of bed this morning??

  7. Good morning Melanie,
    You (and the unseasonable sunshine – let’s call it spring) have got me going. I particularly like the way that the pictures show how sheds can be softened by planting or other effects. The dark colours are also striking.
    Will drop you a line if that’s OK.
    Stephen

  8. I really like these ideas, especially the one about adding string lights!! Those would be perfect for summer BBQs and parties. I just moved into a new home and got the fence redone by a local contractor. I got a composite fence and have been looking for other ways to spruce up my yard and garden on my limited budget. Thank you for these tips!

  9. Hi Melanie

    We love your garden design. What type of tree are they along the fence, is it Indian Bean? are they expensive to buy that size?
    Many thanks
    Kevin

  10. Such cozy looks! I spent most of last summer updating my patio area but still have a ways to go. I love the use of mirrors outside and have seen so many at garage sales I could have gotten for really cheap, however, I live in NE Ia where the winters get really cold and nasty. Anyone have experience with having mirrors outside in super cold weather? I won’t get any if I have to bring them in every fall.

    1. Hi Michelle, I also love using mirrors outside, it helps bounce the light around and reflect all my lovely plants and garden decor. I live in southern England which gets really cold in the winter and some mirrors I’ve left outside, some mirrors I put away for the winter. The ones I left outside are fine, although starting to show signs of rust. I reckon it’s probably best to put them away in a garage or shed for the winter. Mel 🙂

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