6 budget tips for transforming your garden


DIY and how-to

A water feature shaped like a teapot and teacup, surrounded by green plants in a garden setting.

If your garden needs some TLC or you simply want to freshen it up, there are plenty of ways to do it on a budget. Try these clever DIY tips and tricks for breathing new life into your outdoor space.

1. Fill small, brightly coloured baskets and pots with flowers

Grouping clusters of containers, filled with colourful flowers, adds gorgeous colour to your garden, patio or balcony. Seasonal flowers are affordable and will give your space an instant, eye-catching makeover. Best of all, there’s no need to buy new pots. Use leftover paint to revive existing pots, or get creative: use old kitchen pots, pans or mugs, or repurpose any other containers that are collecting dust. Just remember to punch drainage holes into the bottoms. You’re limited only by your imagination!

Read more: Waterwise flowers for spring

2. Grow your own veggies for free

Don’t have the space or budget to create a stand-alone veggie garden? You can still grow your own produce simply by using kitchen scraps. Onions, celery, carrots, leeks, peppers and various kinds of herbs can all be easily grown from your cooking offcuts. Many of them will thrive on kitchen windowsills and balconies, or in trugs. 

Position your veggie babies in warm, sunny areas, away from any draughts. When you’re ready to transition these offcuts from glasses of water to little pots or well-draining containers, be sure to use good quality potting soil.

>> Shop potting soil and fertiliser 

3. Use a R1 coin

Are you wondering about that tree in your garden that hasn’t yet come into leaf? Before you splash out on expensive equipment to find out whether it’s dead or alive, grab a coin. Use it to scratch away a small area of bark on a branch. If it’s brown underneath, the tree is dead. But if it’s white or green, it’s still alive, and there’s no need to remove it. 

4. Go for gravel

Gravel is one of the most inexpensive materials you can use in your garden, and it has so many benefits. It’s neat, aesthetically pleasing, and its ‘crunchiness’ underfoot provides an extra layer of security. 

You don’t need to over-engineer the base if it’s a lightly used area. Simply ensure that the soil is relatively level and compact, lay down some landscaping fabric to prevent weed growth (cardboard, newspaper and burlap can be used at a pinch), and you’re good to go. Prefer peach pips or bark? They work just as well.

Read more: 10 ways to revamp your garden 

5. Turn cooldrink bottles into containers

If it’s good enough for the Chelsea Flower Show, where this trick was spotted, it’s good enough for our gardens! 

It’s as easy as taking your empty plastic cooldrink bottles, carefully cutting off the tops, and placing a layer of drainage chips at the bottom. Cover with soil, and voilà! Your container is ready for the plant of your choice. These work especially well when placed against a dark-wall backdrop, as they blend in beautifully and allow the colours of your plants and their leaves to really shine.

6. Brush up

A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest yet most effective means of instantly upgrading your garden. It’s also so easy. 

Use leftover weatherproof paint you may have in the garage, or if you’re picking out a new colour, err towards deeper shades, as these showcase your plants best. Feeling particularly creative (or brave!)? Rope in your kids. Draw a beautiful mural that they can colour in, or let them go wild and release their creativity. Changing it at a later stage is as simple as another coat of paint.

Read more: Tips for gardening on a budget