9 small garden ideas on a budget to refresh your outdoor space

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  • After being cooped up indoors for the past few months, the arrival of spring means outdoor living is back on the cards. And we are here for that! No matter the size of your outdoor space, whether it’s a small patio, a jewel balcony or a small lawn, our budget small garden ideas will transform your space without having to break the bank.

    With the cost of living on the rise (and rising and rising!), we all want to save as much money as possible, so budget garden ideas are a great place to start. But if your “garden” is bigger than a football field, you might be wondering what can be done to cool you down.

    But fear not, because we’ve rounded up our nine best small garden ideas on a budget to get you ready for summer.

    Ideas for small gardens on a budget

    1. Think vertically

    Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore

    Your outdoor space may lack a large footprint, but you can still make the most of a vertical space instead. Living vertical walls are big business for residential and commercial properties across the country and look super smart too. To create your own, use an old wooden pallet and make a simple rectangular planter. Fill with soil, then plant a mix of sturdy creepers, grasses and succulents. Secure it to a wall or fence, or lean on a ledge in an upright position.

    2. Create a lush look for a balcony

    balcony with bistro set and lush plants surrounding

    Image credit: B&Q

    Traditionally, balcony gardeners planted pots and containers to make their space attractive from the outside. But instead of hanging the planters facing you, turn them towards you and plant trailing plants that will cascade down your balcony rails. This way, you’ll save on plants that other people will enjoy more than you!

    Potted plants look fabulous arranged in small groups of three, five or seven and playing with heights and sizes will also create a jungle vibe.

    Buy now: Apolima bistro table and chair set, £240, B&Q

    3. Combine planters with seating

    Balcony with bistro set and bbq on the ground with lots of plants

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Save money and space by investing in furniture that will work harder for you. A dining set that also incorporates space to plant herbs and herbs, or hold drinks for guests in a tub filled with ice is a great solution. This set of Dobbies will fit into even the smallest of spaces and could even work as an outdoor WFH spot.

    If your outdoor space doesn’t get much light or you just don’t have a green thumb, fill a planter box with a collection of faux plants instead, to cheat the look.

    Buy now: Freya balcony set, £229, Dobbies

    4. Squeeze in a mini-greenhouse

    small greenhouse on the grass with pots next to it and green wall behind

    Image credit: Dobbies

    No matter the size of your space, don’t let it stop you from growing a range of fruits and vegetables. Mini greenhouses are ideal for keeping plants warm, but can also be used as mini shelters. If you’re also going to be storing all of your gardening accessories indoors, consider adding frosted or fluted film to the glass to eliminate any clutter you’re storing.

    While you can find mini greenhouse options to buy at DIY stores and garden centers, you can also try making your own, using old windows from a junk yard.

    Buy now: Wooden growhouse, £169.99, Dobbies

    5. Create your own private bar

    pallet bar in the yard hanging on the wall

    Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young

    Having a bar outside will create your own little entertaining area, and this smart bar is made from just a few pallets. Cut the top section of the pallet to use as a folding section and secure it with two strong hinges and lengths of chain. Finish with a piece of wood to serve as a serving tray. Mount it on the wall and enjoy sunsets with friends whenever you feel like it.

    6. Cheat more space with a mirror

    Courtyard with gothic style table and chairs and mirror on the wall

    Image credit: Future Plc/Tim Young

    A well-placed garden mirror can do wonders to spruce up any outdoor space, and will make your garden look bigger than it really is by tricking the eye into thinking it goes on and on. Make your own using an old door or painted lattices mounted on a piece of mirrored board and hang them on the wall, or prop them up near a shed.

    7. Double the planters

    Wooden planters under the window filled with plants

    Image credit: Future Plc/Joanna Henderson

    If you’re short on flower beds, a great way to introduce more color and greenery is to use window boxes. Traditionally they hung under a window or sat along a ledge, but throw tradition out the door and opt for two hanging one above the other for maximum impact.

    Try filling the top box with pretty, colorful flowers while the bottom box would be reserved for taller, lusher plants, and even a few trailing plants.

    Make the boxes from leftover wooden planks or pallet planks to keep costs to a minimum.

    8. Build ladder shelves for herbs

    garden pots in black wooden shelves

    Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole

    Make the most of the space along the fence and build simple ladder shelves. Use scrap wood from a previous project or an old pallet board cut into lengths. Secure it to your fence and paint the same color so it blends seamlessly into the background.

    Terracotta pots are inexpensive and can be picked up for very little at charity shops, car shoe sales, and second-hand websites.

    9. Recycle old boxes and jars into planters

    plants in old glass jars and boxes

    Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole

    Just about any container can be used to plant flowers, herbs and succulents, so think outside the box. Old cans, glass jars, jugs, teacups and even pots and pans can all be used, they just need a few drainage holes drilled in the bottom. With glass jars, line the bottom with gravel or small stones and fill the sides with moss to hide them.

    Arrange your planted containers in trios around your outdoor space and watch them transform into an oasis.

    How to beautify a small garden on a small budget?

    There are many ways to make a small garden look great on a budget, just think smart! First, use what you already have, to avoid having to part with your money. Walls and fences can benefit from a lick of paint, furniture is well cleaned and varnished, and dead leaves can be wiped away to reveal a tidier space. Pulling weeds and removing moss from walkways will help make any garden space more enjoyable.

    Bark and wood chips are inexpensive and will fill a space much more effectively than expensive plants. Gravel is also a cheaper way to cover the edge of a lawn and old bricks can be used to create a winding path.

    Outdoor rugs are great for hiding tired patios and decks, while house trail cushions can be piled high for relaxing sunbathing.

    How to create a nice little garden?

    Think a bit about what elements you want to include in your garden, being realistic about size restrictions. For smaller gardens, disposing of the lawn can actually provide more space. Paved patios or decks can be used more efficiently and provide space for relaxation, entertainment and play.

    Containers and planters filled with flowers and plants will create an instant transformation, but they can be expensive. Try asking friends and family for excess clippings or seeds and slowly build your dream space. Garden lighting is another way to make a small garden space look nice, so be sure to include plenty of it so you can use your space after dark too.