• 08/22/2023

12 Budget Small Garden Ideas for Your Outdoor Space

hands with garden tools planting flowers in a garden bed

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A garden doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny, especially with limited space. Several budget small garden ideas exist to zhuzh your backyard slice of heaven without breaking the bank. Planning the ultimate garden makeover is critical, as is collecting everyday household items you can repurpose.

Save money and transform your small garden into your favorite outdoor escape in these 12 inexpensive ways.

1. Create Shade

Some plants need six hours of sunlight daily. Others require between three and six hours. Adding a canopy can prevent plants from drying out and dying during the summer heat.

A canopy or shade doesn’t have to be pricey. Search for a sail sheet or use an old bedsheet, neatly attaching it to a stake, fence or tree with a rope. You may even choose a cover with a bold print for visual interest. 

Ensure your canopy is easy to attach and detach depending on the amount of sunlight your plants need. 

2. Add Lighting

Twinkle lights are a budget-friendly option to enhance a small garden. Also, consider bamboo torches, lanterns or an inexpensive portable fire pit for warmth. 

Garden centers and home improvement stores carry numerous solar garden decorations that light up at night. This way, you can enjoy your garden during the day or evening. 

3. Build a Gallery Wall With Planters

To add more plants, grow your small garden vertically along a fence or wall. A planter gallery wall is an attractive addition to your small garden and can be arranged similarly to indoor picture galleries.

You can use loaf tins, wooden pallets, metal buckets or plastic pots for your planter gallery. Be sure to drill holes at each bottom to allow your plants to drain. This project is especially a good idea for herbs and succulents.

4. Plant a Succulent Garden

Succulents are inexpensive and easy to care for — an excellent plant for those without a green thumb. Typically, succulents thrive and propagate without human interference. 

However, even cacti can overheat in highly sunny, hot and dry conditions. Some succulent species should only have two or three hours of direct sunlight daily. Otherwise, consider placing your shade overhead to filter some of the light. 

5. Plant From Seeds

Planting from seeds is much cheaper than buying seedlings from the store. While growing your plants successfully from seeds may take some practice, the outcome is always worthwhile. 

Even more cost-effective is to save seeds for the following year. Collect seeds from mature plants and allow them to dry out in a cool environment for two weeks. Store them in seed packets or a jar until you’re ready to use them.

Tomatoes, bell peppers and chili peppers are excellent starter plants if you’re new to seed-saving. 

6. Use Native Plants

Native plants adapt to your local climate over thousands of years. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, native plants are beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Restores habitat for local wildlife and attracts pollinators
  • Requires less irrigation
  • Minimizes or eliminates fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides
  • Requires minimal maintenance
  • Provide erosion control

You can find inexpensive native plants through local conservation organizations and nature groups, online stores, discounts at nurseries or from nearby gardeners. You might even be able to relocate unused and unwanted native plants from construction sites if you ask.

7. Add a Bistro Set

Enjoy a cup of coffee with a bistro set for your small garden. You can purchase a bistro set for under $100 online or even cheaper through thrift stores or yard sales. 

A bistro set comes with two chairs and a small round table. While it serves a functional purpose for socializing or relaxing, it is also a nice decorative feature for a charming outdoor space. 

8. Paint Flower Pots

Add some sunshine to your miniature garden by painting your flower pots bright colors. Clean the pots well, ensuring you eliminate any debris or chips. Additionally, you’ll want to use exterior masonry paint so it lasts longer in the elements. 

Match the paint color to your house, or opt for something bold and whimsical to draw attention to your garden.

9. Add a Trellis

A trellis is especially practical when growing vegetables. In a small garden, a trellis enables you to grow plants vertically to save space. There are several ways to incorporate one in your small outdoor area while on a budget, including the following:

  • Tie twine around three bamboo stakes — typically about $1 a stake
  • Repurpose old shovels and rakes into a trellis
  • Build a tower trellis using one-inch cedar fence slats for under $10
  • Add chicken wire to an old window frame
  • Use a small step ladder
  • Lean old crib rails against a shed or fence

Creating a trellis from wood or repurposing old materials takes some creativity. However, you’ll find you can transform a vertical garden without spending much.

10. Raise Your Garden

A raised garden bed is easy to build and can be done for under $100. Even better, save yourself the trouble of sawing the wood pieces by having the hardware store do it for you.

Although cedar wood is the most durable material for a raised garden bed, it is also the most expensive. Instead, Douglas fir lasts three to seven years — a popular construction material and an excellent alternative. 

11. Lay a Path

Flagstone pavers and wood stepping stones are wonderful decorative options for your small garden. Fortunately, you will only need a few to fill the area, which will help keep the project under budget.

Likewise, gravel or mulch are inexpensive alternatives and allow you to cut back on maintenance. In fact, mulch and gravel help control weeds by blocking the sun they need to grow. 

12. Make Your Own Plant Markers

You can make cheap plant markers by repurposing items around your house. Otherwise, popsicle sticks from the craft store also work. 

Plant markers are essential if you’re growing vegetables, are saving seeds or want to avoid digging up perennial plants. Some budget-friendly plant marker ideas for your small garden include the following:

  • Paint flower pots with blackboard paint and use chalk.
  • Hand-paint river rocks and stencil the plant name.
  • Upcycle broken pots by painting them and stenciling the plant name.
  • Write the plant name on wine corks and push a bamboo skewer through the center.
  • Print labels from your computer and cover them with clear contact paper.
  • Paint leftover ceramic tiles from a previous renovation.
  • Stencil popsicle sticks.
  • Write the plant name on pegs and attach them to flower pot rims.

Plant marker crafts are a fun afternoon activity for you and your kids. It could also encourage spending quality time in the garden.

Create Your Dream Garden on the Cheap

A little paint, some upcycled materials and a bit of creativity are all it takes to create your dream garden on a budget. Even a small outdoor area can become your new favorite space. DIY what you can to save money for decorative items your garden can’t live without. 

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