Summer is the time to make the most of your garden, but the cost of filling your outdoor space with flowers, pots and furniture can be eye-watering.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free and cheap ways to spruce up your garden in the warmer weather, whether you’re looking for a complete makeover or to simply add a bit of colour. 

Here’s our round up of tips to make your garden look beautiful without breaking the bank.

1. Use self-seeding flowers

Use self-seeding flowers

You could plant self-seeding flowers, which as their name suggests, are those that naturally spread seed in your garden so you don’t need to buy masses of plants. Popular self-seeding flowers include verbena, sweet peas, marigolds, alliums, aquilegias and forget-me-nots. These are easy to maintain, as in order for them to self-seed there’s no need for any dead-heading. Self-seeders make it simple to fill your garden with beautiful flowers on a small budget. Gardeners World features eight plants that self-seed in this article.  

You don’t need to find the ideal spot for self-seeders, either, as they can be planted pretty much anywhere. Simply sow a few, and let your self-seeders get on with it on their own. As they die, they’ll drop new seeds that’ll bloom next year.

2. Make your own plant pots and containers

Make your own plant pots and containers

You don’t need to invest in expensive pots and planters. Take an imaginative approach when it comes to potting your plants by using anything from an old boot or bath, to a rusty teapot or empty jam jars. You may be surprised by what could work as a plant pot and it’s a great way to make use of items lying unused in your home. 

You could paint old pots and containers too to add colour, and get creative about where you put them. Try hanging pots on a trellis to create a new garden feature, for example, or adding pots to decking areas for more colour.

3. Make your own garden furniture

Make your own garden furniture

If you’ve any old furniture that you’re not currently using in your home, think about how you could make use of it in your garden instead. For example, old shelves or pieces of wood could be turned into a potting shelf or table. You could even use an old chest of drawers or step ladder as a creative shelf or container for plants in your garden. 

It’s best to sand down old furniture and add a coat of weatherproof varnish or garden furniture paint to ensure your items can withstand all weather conditions.

4. Use cheap materials

Use cheap materials

Garden landscaping materials such as paving slabs can be pricey, but there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. Look for materials that you might already have, such as gravel, in other areas of your garden. Stones or bark chippings are also cheaper options that can be used to  break up garden areas. If you don’t have any of your own alternative materials, try local tree surgeons or online marketplaces for free or cheap options. Your local garden centre may also sell bags of bark or gravel for a fraction of the cost of other materials.

5. Use online forums to find free items

It’s worth checking local ads on sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Freecycle, Preloved and Gumtree for free or cheap garden furniture, tools, pots and plants. You may find there are plenty of unwanted items up for grabs, particularly as the weather improves and people clear out their sheds and gardens. You can search locally, or expand your search if you don’t mind travelling to pick up a particular item. 

There may also be other forums you could try. For example, the Nextdoor app connects with other people in your area who may be looking to get rid or sell garden items. Beware, however, that while these online forums are popular, they are also often targeted by fraudsters, so think carefully before sharing your personal details when you’re using them. Don’t hand over your account details, or part with any cash in person until you’ve seen the item. 

If you’re on your street’s WhatsApp group, this could also be a good place to try asking if anyone has a particular garden item that you want going spare.

6. Search for garden bargains

Search for garden bargains

Discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl are a good place to start hunting for everything from cheap garden furniture to seed packets. For example, you can buy garden furniture at Aldi from as little as £30. However, stock can run low or sell out quickly during the summer months. 

Other online retailers that are worth checking out for bargains include Amazon, eBay, The Range, Gardening Express and Home Bargains.

7. Plant from seed

You can also save a small fortune on flowers if you plant from seed. You’ll need to be patient and wait for your flowers to bloom, but it’s one of the best ways to save cash. Try Amazon, Poundland or Wilko for cheap packets of seeds costing from about 50p each. 

Many plants, herbs and vegetables can be planted from seed, and this video demonstrates how to sew seeds in a few simple steps. You simply need to prepare the soil and make sure the conditions suit whatever you’re hoping to grow.

8. Take cuttings from existing plants

You can take cuttings from your existing plants to divide and plant around the rest of your garden. You cannot multiply all your plants by taking cuttings, but there are plenty of species that enable you to do this simply without spending any money. Ideally, take cuttings in spring or early summer from the new season’s growth. Cut below the leaf joint to make a new cutting that’s about the length of a pencil, remove the lower leaves, and plant this into the soil with some rooting powder.

9. Set up a plant and seed-swapping get together

Set up a plant and seed-swapping get together

You could bring the green-fingered in your local community together to share plant cuttings and seeds and gardening tips. This can be a great way to share ideas, and cut the cost of creating new beds and borders. After all, plenty of keen gardeners have half-used packets of seeds they could share, or easy access to cuttings. You could also request that attendees bring unwanted pots, tools or other garden items they are willing to part with.

10. Join online communities for tips

If you’re struggling for cheap and easy ways to revamp your outdoor space, there are plenty of online communities that could offer inspiration. You could try joining the gardening discussion in the Rest Less Lifestyle Facebook group to find ideas. There are also Facebook groups such as Gardens on a Budget, and BBC Gardeners’ World where keen gardeners share tips. Instagram and Pinterest are other good places to look for garden inspiration.

11. Add outdoor lighting

Try adding some solar lights or lanterns to your garden for a lovely glow after dark. This can revamp even the smallest of garden spaces, and you can rearrange the lighting to create different effects. You could try, for example, putting solar light sticks along pathways or fairy lights around sheds and fences. You can buy garden lights cheaply from online retailers such as Amazon and Wilko or make your own by putting tea lights in empty jam jars, for example. 

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