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Cheap DIY garden ideas

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We’ve recently undergone a huge garden transformation.  Whilst we did splash out on some expensive porcelain patio tiles, which will hopefully last us a lifetime, and some new garden furniture as a treat, we did try to save money in many other areas to create the garden of our dreams for less.  

If you want to update your garden on a budget then these tips, from my recent experience, might just help.  It’s amazing what you can create with some savvy shopping hacks and DIY ideas.  Here are several ways we saved hundreds of pounds on our garden makeover.  These include many simple and cheap DIY garden ideas to transform a garden on a budget!

How to transform a garden on a budget

DIY ideas to transform a garden on a budget

Create borders with reclaimed wood

Originally we were going to use railway sleepers around our entire garden border, but with a 90 foot garden the costs really started to add up!

Instead, we managed to use some free reclaimed wood, which we painted black to match our garden fences, to create a nice looking divide for our borders.  We also used them to create slightly raised vegetable patches in our garden.

how to transform a garden on a budget

Where to source free reclaimed wood?

Keep an eye on sites like Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace to see if people have wood you can collect for free.  B&Q usually have a tub of offcuts near their exit too and they just ask for a small charity donation if you take anything.

Some of our local landscaping supply businesses also have piles of wood and pallets that are free near their entrance. It’s worth keeping an eye out when you are out and about visiting landscaping centres and DIY shops as you’ll start to spot places that are giving away free offcuts of timber.

My husband’s old workplace had a huge warehouse clearance and were throwing lots of wood into skips, so they didn’t mind people taking anything they were going to throw out.  If you see something useful in a skip then ask if you can have it.  Most people won’t mind if they are throwing it out anyway!


Use reclaimed scaffold boards to make a boardwalk path

We could not decide on a garden path for such a long time.  It was probably our most thought over decision.  We needed a garden path from our house to the sheds at the back of the garden. There was no path before so this was a brand new idea and we could do pretty much what we wanted.

Originally we were going to do a porcelain tile path to match the patio, but these tiles are costly!  With such a long garden it would really have added hundreds more onto the overall cost.  Other ideas were a gravel path, but that probably would have been the same cost too.  Or we thought of hiring a concrete imprint company to make a cobble effect path… but again, cost was off-putting.

Eventually, we had a great idea.  Ben already makes furniture from reclaimed scaffold boards and we wondered if we could make a path from them.  The idea stuck and we decided to go for it!  Ben created an entire path from reclaimed boards which are much, much cheaper than buying new scaffold boards and, of course, eco-friendly too.  I painted the boards to match the colour of our decking and it looks great.

It was the best idea and it saved us a small fortune compared to all the other garden path design ideas we had.

how to transform a garden on a budget

Buy flower seeds instead of plants

Garden plants can quickly add up, especially when you have a long garden or a large garden.  Whilst I did buy some new plants to stop our new garden looking so bare, I resisted the urge to completely fill the garden with potted plants and purchased numerous packets of flower seeds too.

It’s a lot cheaper to buy flower seeds and bulbs than plants, and you often get thousands of seeds in a pack.  I have sprinkled wildflower seeds over an entire border, underneath our plum and apple tree, so I hope for a meadow effect of wildflowers and grasses next year.

I have also planted daffodil and tulip bulbs which should grow next spring.  It’s a lot more affordable to buy bulbs rather than potted daffodils and tulips with online flower retailers like Dutch Tulips offering wholesale prices to their customers.

You can find some really great deals on flower seeds online both locally and abroad.  I didn’t actually realise, as I thought I was searching in the UK on eBay, but I accidentally ordered some bluebell seeds from China and they are on their way to me!

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Source materials and garden items on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is such a great resource for sourcing local items for home improvement projects.  Unfortunately we could never find the colour paint we needed when looking, but I did see lots of people giving their old garden paints away for free!

If you’re planning a garden makeover then have a look on Facebook Marketplace to see if you can grab any materials for cheaper than buying new.  Some people, including us, sell or give away any excess gardening supplies.

Whilst browsing for paint and wood, I also saw people giving away vegetable plants for free.  You’ll be amazed at how little you need to spend if you are not too fussy about exactly what you want in your garden.

We did manage to get a compost bin for only £10 which would have cost us £35 to buy new, so that was a great find as we needed a second composting bin.

how to transform a garden on a budget

Paint garden slabs instead of replacing them

One of our best money saving hacks during our garden makeover was to paint the slabs alongside our house instead of replacing them.  Our new patio and path colour was grey and we had some old cream tiles next to the house which now didn’t match anything else.

This was the last part of the garden to transform and we didn’t want to replace the slabs if we didn’t need to as it would be a big job and pricey.

I’d suggested painting them a long time ago and Ben wasn’t sure.  I guess he imagined they might look awful!

I researched online and found as many guides or forums as possible.  I found a great forum which supposedly had a paint manufacturer talking in it about the best way to paint garden slabs.  He suggested using permeable masonry paint with a 10-15 year guarantee, mixing some dry plaster sand into the paint, and said that will last for years.

We decided to give it a go and if it was awful then we’d have to consider something else, but it seems to have worked!  The slabs actually look like they are meant to be grey and you’d have no idea we painted them.  We painted two layers of paint with the hope that might last a little longer.

It definitely saved us hundreds again compared to replacing the slabs. 

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Use cashback sites and coupons to make savings when ordering gardening supplies online

Finally, if you are going to order materials online then always make sure you check for cashback, especially when making a large purchase for garden materials.

Check out my massive money-saving tips section for more ways to save money. Find some great deals on my voucher codes and free money pages!  Check out my list of apps that turn receipts into cash and also this list of cashback sites to maximise your free cash back and savings.

Cheap DIY garden ideas 

Be prepared for garden waste

If you are thinking of renovating your garden yourself, then it might be worth looking into a professional dumpster service to make the whole process much easier. Renting a dumpster will help keep your site clean and once finished the team will come along and take away your waste and dispose of it for you so you won't have to do it yourself. Which makes for an easier, less time consuming and cheaper ordeal. 

When utilising a rental dumpster it is important to choose the right sized dumpster for your project so make sure you get in touch with your local dumpster rental experts to get advice.

Small dumpsters are quite affordable in comparison to paying a company to take away all the excess waste, or even when you add up the number of trips you'd need to take in your car to get rid of the waste, along with the time and effort! 

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Cheap DIY garden ideas