By Aimee Bray
As we shake off the last of winter and some of the Covid-19 restrictions, we’re looking ahead to a long-overdue summer of BBQs and outdoor dining with family and friends. Birthday parties and get-togethers will likely take place outdoors this year, so perhaps a garden makeover is in order. Our simple garden ideas on a budget will help you give your green space some much-needed TLC this spring - keeping your pals close but your pennies closer.
Whether your garden is a teeny balcony or a sprawling jungle, there are some garden must-haves to help you make the most of warm days to come. We’ll help inspire you with cheap garden furniture options that never look budget and some practical tips to save money - ready for the ultimate burger-flipping, beer-sipping experience.
The weather is a hot topic - at least for us Brits. According to a study by social anthropologist Kate Fox, 9 in 10 Brits have spoken about the weather in the last six hours, and we’re betting it was a complaint. Your garden should make allowances for sun, wind and rain. A gazebo or canopy is practically essential for uncovered gardens, and you can’t go far wrong with this cheap gazebo from Argos - just £60 for 2.4m x 2.4m of covered space. There’s also a traditional garden parasol from Wayfair, which protects from rain and sun for around £40. If you’re going with a tropical look, a tiki parasol from Studio is an even cheaper option, costing less than £25.
If socialising must take place outside, an outdoor heater can really extend your garden gatherings. Our favourite wood fire heater is the La Hacienda Cuba Chiminea from B&Q, sturdily made from cast iron and steel and costing less than £100. Woodfire heaters require a bit more maintenance, but they also make a wonderful stylistic feature for larger gardens. This 120-degree electric patio heater from The Range is a great option for smaller spaces, and it’s less than £65 too.
Your garden is part of your home, so your personality should come into the mix in the same way that it does to your interiors. Little details add texture and home comforts to an outdoor space. Remember that you should always choose durable materials for soft furnishings. Outdoor cushions, for example, are made of a thicker, weather-proof material so better able to withstand the inevitable rain, and the fact that they are built to last will ensure you save money in the long run. We love this honeycomb outdoor rug at just £30 from Dunelm, it’ll give your garden a cosy feel, while still being affordable.
Tiny gardens tend to become easily cluttered, which is why we recommend a cheap bistro table and chairs set for small gardens on a budget, like the Churchgate two-seater. This cheap outdoor dining set is lightweight, so you can move it around to chase the last of the sun, and it’s just £69 with free click and collect. We picture alfresco brunches and morning coffees in the sun. For accommodating larger groups, there’s the Rive Droite Bistro Set for £275 from Garden Trading. B&Q has some of the best garden furniture deals, which we’ve covered in more detail in our B&Q sales calendar. Our quick tip is signing up to B&Q Club for £5 off your first order over £30.
Lucky owners of larger gardens have more options, like outdoor sofa sets and big tables. Cheap rattan garden furniture looks stylish without overpowering your greenery. It’s also a hard-wearing material, so it won’t be damaged by the sun - if we get any this year! The neutral colours and woven pattern give it a natural, earthy feel. You’ll find the best rattan garden furniture at Rattan Direct, but for an affordable dupe, check out the two-seater rattan set for £389.99 at Wayfair. Our trusty B&Q has some beautifully designed wicker furniture like the Apolima Rattan bench for £126.
Gone are the days of awkward plastic seating. Garden chairs have had a big upgrade, and there’s no reason why we can’t get creative with our outdoor space too. Buy a cheap sun lounger and pretend you’re on holiday, or chase down a wicker egg chair, like the Novaro Garden Egg Chair for £199 at ASDA. The Wilderness Jungle lounger is perfect for relaxing in the sun, costing only £40 from Argos. Get the kids involved too with the outdoor bean bag for kids, only £25 from ASDA and certified budget-friendly.
It goes without saying: plants are the lifeforce of any garden. Bees love a buffet, so go wild with a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the year. It’s always more satisfying and thrifty to grow plants from seed, which you can buy in bulk from home and garden stores like B&Q, Crocus or Gardening Express. Check our Gardening Express page, as we’re currently offering a free £10 gift card when you spend £80. You could even start your own herb garden or vegetable garden, which is a cost-effective way to shave a few pounds off your shopping bill. For a quick garden transformation, you can order ready-grown perennials, shrubs, trees and pond plants from Waitrose. We’ve also found a dupe of the 3-tier wooden plant stand from John Lewis for less than a third of the price - just £30 at ASDA!
Good lighting can create a warm, welcoming atmosphere and create focal points. These outdoor string lights can be wound through fences or draped over bushes to create your own fairy grotto for £29.99. Warmer hues are less disruptive to wildlife, so you could choose the environmentally-friendly option by going with solar outdoor lights. This cheap garden idea is an easy way to transform your outdoor space in a flash. You can buy brightly coloured solar bottle lanterns from Sainsbury’s for only £5, or opt for landscape pathway lighting from Argos for £10.
Use colourful plant pots, upcycled wheelbarrows and old cans of paint - this is your chance to get really creative! Upcycle wooden pallets to grow plants in, or craft some garden furniture if you’re really DIY-savvy. Repurpose old furniture for the garden, like painting a set of shelves to stack plants on, or hang old mirrors on the wall to give the illusion of space. If you’re thinking about bringing indoor furniture outside, you’ll want to protect it from the elements with garden furniture paint, which starts from £2 a tin at B&Q. Think about what you already have in your home and imagine how it could be used to make your garden more homely. Something as simple as using empty plastic bottles to grow plants in prevents plastic waste and is practically free!