How to improve your garden on a small budget – 15 ways to transform your outdoor space!

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Want to improve your garden on a small budget? Here 15 ways to transform your outdoor space! I love being out in the garden, and having somewhere quiet to potter. Having somewhere to relax, entertain friends and get back to nature is great for our mental health, so here are some easy ways to make your outside space work for you, without breaking the bank.

1. Upcycle old garden furniture

You might have some tired bits of garden furniture hanging around outside, but the good news is that a lick of paint and some outdoor cushions can really transform anything. If you need some cheap pieces, have a look on social media selling pages and second-hand websites, such as Preloved, with an open mind.

People often sell things cheaply or give them away for free, so don’t discount something that needs an upcycle – a lick of paint can transform most things in a flash. Frenchic Alfresco paint is perfect for outdoor projects. And the summer is boot fair season; so that might be a great place to save some money!


2. Paint the fences

Give your fences a lick of paint –  spending an afternoon giving your tired or mismatched fences a lick of paint is a cheap and simple way to unify the garden, and make everything feel tidy and co-ordinated. We’ve got three different fences, all of different ages, in our garden and just painting them all one colour really transformed the garden.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, frugal mum garden photo of painted fences


3. Think low maintenance

I like gardening but I also want to enjoy my garden, and not be a slave to the weeds all summer long. Keeping on top of weeds can be a pain, so investing a little time and effort in making your garden more manageable could save you a lot of work in the long run.

When we moved here, one of the first things I did was to tidy up the flower beds, lay weed membrane and cover it with slate chippings. Not only does it look really smart, I very rarely have to do anything to it – which made it well worth a weekend of my time 8 years ago! Beautiful flower beds without regular elbow-grease; weed membrane is amazing!


4. Make your own compost

Save money by making your own compost and you’ll be able to plant up your flower beds and pots without spending a fortune on soil – the plants love it! It’s super simple and needn’t even take up much room. On top of this, it’s a really environmentally-friendly way to make the most of your kitchen and garden waste.

Composting can be done all year round, whenever suitable materials are generated in the garden or home. But, the peak time for composting is late summer to early winter so get organised this year and you’ll have all the soil you need next summer. Check out my post on how to make your own compost for more info.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, how to make your own compost, frugal mum tips


5. Clean it

It’s amazing what a scrub or a jet wash can do for a dirty patio or an old bench. Don’t write off what you’ve got already before you’ve given it a freshen up. Often washing what we have can leave it looking brand new again, and it’ll save you from spending more money. Jet washers can be a good investment, but they’re also something that a lot of people have lurking in their sheds rarely used – so see if you can borrow one to cut costs.


6. Shop second-hand

If you need a new BBQ, some patio furniture or even a mower to tame the grass, always see what others have got before you buy new. When you’re on a budget, frugal second-hand shopping makes the money stretch so much further – you can have it all and still have some change!

Facebook Marketplace, boot fairs and websites like Preloved are a great place to start – you might even find some bits for free. Be patient, and keep your eyes peeled – there will always be someone selling something you need.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, photo of garden furniture


7. Make your own

Wooden pallets are a great way to stock up on free wood – there are always people or businesses giving them away. There are so many amazing pallet ideas online and it means you can build the things you need for little-to-nothing.

If you’ve got a saw, a level, a drill, some screws and a free weekend why not start a project? You could create a seating area, a mud kitchen for the kids or perhaps even some new planters for your flowers or veg.

The ideas are endless, and there’s a You Tube video to help with pretty much everything! We made a massive log store out of pallets this year – saving us hundreds of pounds – and we’ve developed a few new skills too!


8. Plant from seeds

Established plants can be really expensive, but seeds can be picked up for pennies and will go a long way. Growing your own may take longer, but you’ll be able to fill your flower beds with colour for next-to-nothing. Amazon have some great deals on large multi-packs of seeds.

Starting them off indoors on a warm window sill or in a warm conservatory can often make the seedlings do a bit better – a little TLC can go a long way and make the plants happier and healthier before they’re transferred into the flower beds outside.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, seedlings growing in pots

Growing your own, and pottering outside, can be great for your mood too. And, it’s a super way to get the kids involved and out in the fresh air. You don’t need much space either – pots, window sills and balconies can all be great growing spaces.


9. Plant wisely

If you want some ready-made colour, or some more established plants, keep an eye out for garden centre sales. They often sell off plants in need of planting up, or those perhaps at the end of their flowering season – so buy them cheaply and you’ll benefit next year.

I bought some gorgeous Rhododendrons reduced to £2 each a few years ago when they were losing their flowers but they flowered again the next summer and they’ve given me a splash of pink every year since.

Be smart with what you buy too – some flowers, like Perennials, are great and will come back year after year, while others don’t which can be time consuming and costly. I always do a bit of research (and call my nan!) to check which plants are going to work for the space / sunlight / look I’m after before I buy.


10. Accessorise

Accessories can completely change even the smallest of spaces, so they’re a really easy way to improve your garden quickly and cheaply. Outdoor cushions, throws, fairy lights and hanging baskets can make a patio feel cosy, inviting and colourful. Sometimes the small, simple changes have the biggest impact on how the space feels.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, garden furniture

For my birthday this year, I asked for an outdoor rug and I love how cosy it makes our seating area feel. It adds a pop of colour and, unlike an indoor rug, it can easily be hosed down to look as good as new again when needed. It’s also a great way to cover up an old tired patio, without any elbow grease!


11. Shop out of season

If you can wait, buying the bits you need for your garden (whether it be new or second-hand) will always be cheaper at the end of the summer. Particularly with big purchases, like garden furniture, you could save hundreds waiting for the autumn sales to arrive. And, the shops will sell off their display stock in store cheaply too.


12. Create some zones

Creating different zones in your garden can be a great way to make the most of every inch of your outdoor space. A seating / eating area for the adults to chill in, while the children play in their space, is a great way to create a calm, relaxing environment to be enjoyed while they let off steam.

Pergolas, screens, and even some trellis with a climbing plant can be a great way to zone the garden – but you could simply use your garden furniture and a few accessories to do the job too.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, couple sat in garden


13. Reshape your borders

A super simple (and cheap) way to completely change the feel and design of your garden is to change the shape of your borders – or create completely new ones! Curved edges, the creation of a pathway between flowers, or simply adding some new beds for pops of colour might be the simple freshen up you’re after.


14. Go wild

Wild flower seeds are a brilliant way to get colour and warmth into your outdoor space, with the least amount of effort possible. If you’re not very green-fingered, then going wild might be the perfect choice for you. They’re so good for bees and other insects too!

We’ve just signed up to ’30 Days Wild for June’ – a great way to focus on getting the kids outside and back to nature. And, they’ll send you some free wild flower seeds too, to get you started.

How to improve your garden on a small budget, free wild flower seeds image


15. Repurpose what you have

Some things might be less obvious than others – but there’s a lot that can be done with your (or other people’s) waste. An old piece of guttering is a great planter for herbs and fruit / veg with shallow roots.

Old wellington boots, plastic food containers and even an old bath could get a whole new lease of life when filled with plants. Using your imagination and being creative is the best way to transform just about anything on a tiny budget! The ultimate frugal gardening!


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