I’ve always loved sitting out in the garden, and the last year has certainly made our outside space more important than ever. Having somewhere to relax, entertain friends and get back to nature is great for our mental health too. Here are 10 ways to make your outside space work for you, without breaking the bank.
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.
Paint the fences
Give your fences a lick of paint – tired or mismatched fences can really make a garden feel more drab than fab. Spending an afternoon or two giving your fences a lick of paint can help to unify the garden and make everything feel tidy and co-ordinated.
Think low maintenance
I do enjoy a bit of 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. Beautiful flower beds without regular elbow-grease; weed membrane is amazing!
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.
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. 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.
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, shopping second-hand makes the money stretch so much further so you can have it all and still have some change!
Facebook Marketplace 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.
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 – I’m going to have a go at building a pallet log store this summer; I’ll let you know how I get on!
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.
Look for reductions
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 loosing 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.
Accessories can completely change even the smallest of spaces. Outdoor cushions, throws, fairy lights and hanging baskets can make a patio feel cosy, inviting and colourful. Sometimes the small, simple changes make the biggest impact on how the space feels.
These outdoor cushions are gorgeous…
*Prices accurate April 2021