You don’t have to spend a fortune to create the garden of your dreams nor do you have to hire an expensive garden designer. This article tells you how to create a garden on a budget when money is tight, and you’ll be able to read about:
- Getting free help with your garden
- Inexpensive flowers and plants
- Alternative flower or plant containers
- Finding cheap garden furniture
- Other features of the garden at little or no cost
According to lifestyle polls, gardening is one of the most popular pastimes in the UK. This guide to creating a garden on a budget tells you everything you need to know from where to get free advice to cheap patio furniture.
Garden on a budget – Getting free help
The internet is packed with advice for the novice gardener, and you’ll be able to find anything you want to know to create a garden on a budget. Asking family and friends is a good start too as they’ll be eager to share any tips with you.
If you’re starting a garden on a budget from scratch (for example, after moving into a new-build), why not throw a garden party? Ask people to wear their oldest clothes and set them to work clearing out rubble and weeds, digging and painting. In return for their help, hit the supermarket and buy some meat to barbecue and a few drinks.
Another mine of information (which people often overlook) is your neighbours. Their gardens will give you an idea of which plants grow well in the soil. Asking for pointers will also be a good opportunity to get to know them and strike up a conversation.
Finally, many areas have a gardening society or association. Contact the Royal Horticultural Society to see if there’s one where you live.
Don’t spend a fortune on flowers and plants
The mistake that people often make is buying fully-grown flowers and plants from the local gardening centre. Instead of paying so much, you should grow from seeds; they will cost you pennies rather than pounds. You’ll only need to use a few seeds from each packet so store the rest sealed in foil in a cool, dry place. The rest could be planted later, or you could organise a seed swap with someone else. If you choose biennials like hollyhocks or foxgloves, you’ll get your value for money when they flower again.
If you’re worried about growing from seeds, buying plug plants (at the seedling stage) is only a little more expensive. Choosing self-seeding plants like forget-me-knots or borage means that the work is done for you as they gradually spread and spill across the flowerbeds.
It’s a very easy technique to learn how to divide perennials (such as geraniums and astrantia). All you need to do is to pull them up and make sure each clump of plant has some root ball as well as stalk and some leaves. Once separated, you can replant them and watch them flourish. Finally, flowers like fuchsia and marguerites are easily grown from cuttings, but make sure you ask for permission before taking any.
Alternative flower or plant containers
Often flowerpots and window-boxes can be quite pricey especially if you want stylish, decorated ceramic ones. Instead of buying pots from your garden centre, why not recycle old containers and use plastic bottles, tins, jars or cans? Get the family to lend a hand by painting and decorating them to suit the colour scheme of your garden. Before adding soil, open some holes in the bottom and/or add a layer of stones for drainage purposes.
Instead of buying pots from your garden centre, why not recycle old containers and use plastic bottles, tins, jars or cans?
Apart from recyclable containers, scour charity shops, jumble sales and car boot sales for unique flowerpots. Quite literally anything can be used to grow plants inside. Old crockery and lidless teapots, old tyres, wheelbarrows, watering cans and even bicycles can all be used as cheaper alternatives to custom-made pots and will add a unique look to your garden.
Finding cheap garden furniture
To enjoy your garden to the full, you’ll need some garden furniture so you can sit outside and relax. If the sets on sale at gardening centres are beyond your budget, look around for some second-hand tables and chairs. If you’re unsuccessful in your quest, why not buy a cheap second-hand kitchen set? All the metalwork would need is a lick of all-weather paint to prevent rust.
There are plenty of videos online about how to make your own gardening furniture from wooden pallets, decking planks or old wooden fruit crates. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is, and it doesn’t require specialised carpentry skills.
Other features of the garden at little or no cost
If paving a patio is too expensive for you, the cheapest solution is to lay down gravel. Apart from the gravel itself, you’ll need to buy some permeable membrane to prevent weeds from coming through. If you want to add a path through your flowerbeds, use old bricks or cracked tiling. These can often be found free of charge from builders’ yards where they are thrown away.
Instead of purchasing fencing or trelliswork, bamboo or reed screening can be purchased for a fraction of the price. Dividing up your garden into sectors in this way can also make it seem bigger.
If you can’t afford to install outdoor lighting, you could use solar-powered or battery-operated lights to create a magical atmosphere on summer evenings spent outside. Hanging fairy lights from fencing or plants is another cheap option, and they can be plugged into a socket in the house.
What if you don’t have a garden?
Many of the tips about growing plants inexpensively could work equally well if you live in a flat and only have window-boxes or house plants. If you would really like your own garden, you could always apply to your local authority for an allotment. Things have changed and they are no longer the sole preserve of old, retired men.
Conclusion – A garden needs time
As this guide to creating a budget-friendly garden shows, you don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to make a garden. The key to creating a garden is to devote your time. No garden can be created overnight – think of it as a work in progress. The greatest sense of achievement comes from creating something from scratch and which expresses your character.