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Affordable garden ideas that are cheap and look great

A lawn chair with comfortable pillows in an affordable garden setting.

Deck, hedge, plants, lawn, garden furniture… Setting up a garden often runs up quite a bill, especially when moving in. Turn into a landscaping pro with these few ideas that’ll help landscape a garden for cheap.

Whether your garden be large or small, fear of spending shouldn’t deprive you of a great outdoor setup that matches your tastes.

Flower beds with grasses and annuals

Purple grasses with seed panicles in the wind.Trees are expensive! For a budget outdoor garden, best is to rely on plants in the annuals and grasses. They’re dirt cheap, but nonetheless make for magnificent landscaping. In particular, Stipa and Pennisetum unveil wavy golden blades, whereas Muhlenbergia capillaris attracts attention with vapor-like pink plumes.

Here and there, splice in some annuals that will grow back year after year. Plants of the Echinaceae family and Lily-of-the-Nile are great for this. These combinations will do well and look great, but they won’t give you shade as would a tree. Select then a cheap but sturdy shade cloth to hang up, it’ll protect you from the scorching summer sun.


Grow large plants

Perennial geranium, an affordable plant that grows large.If you buy small-sized plants like Phlox to make flowered ground cover, you’ll have to buy many of them to cover the surface – it’s going to cost a lot to flower the entire bed. There are two ways around this problem: either choose plants that grow very large, or instead select a ground cover plant that will naturally spread across the entire space you need covered.

A cool, shady spot may, for example, be the place to grow perennial geranium. This type quickly grows large and bears cute, simple flowers from May to October. Depending on the variety, these blooms can be either pink or blue. A better choice for sunny spots is Acanthus! This tall, impressive annual has humongous leaves and sprouts a massive upright flower scape.

A color-coded garden furniture set

Color-matching old furniture looks great in a garden, for cheap, too.Thrift shops and recycling are the way to go for a cheap garden setup! The trick is to work with colors to combine old pieces of garden furniture that come from different sets.

It isn’t difficult to build a garden furniture set yourself, either. To whit, simply stacking two wooden shipping pallets will do fine for a bench. For the upright portion, unless you set it against a wall, just screw a third pallet set vertically at the back. Final steps are sanding, varnishing, and adding a couple pillows. Convert yet another shipping pallet into a convenient low table by attaching four cabinet wheels, one to each corner. Fill in the blanks with planks from extra pallets to get a flat surface. Add a barbecue, and presto, you’ve got a garden kitchen!

Sowing the lawn

Hand-sowing a grass lawn is the cheapest optionNow for the lawn. Lush and green, perfect to lay down on and watch children run around. Two possibilities here: Either purchase rolls of lawn grass directly, or sow your lawn from seeds.

The second option is much, much cheaper, but it comes at the cost of time and effort. A few weeks before sowing, till the soil across the entire surface with a rototiller or a spade, to a depth of 6 inches (15 cm). Gather all rocks, roots, and weeds. Finish up with a few passes of a rake. After that, sow your seeds using the broadcast sowing technique. Check that lawn seeds are everywhere. Lastly, press everything down with a lawn roller, and keep soil moist until the grass sprouts!

A cozy deck

Deck, chair and table all made from cheap wood.Avoid quarry stones and exotic woods which cost a fortune.

For a wooden terrace, select common pine or black locust, it has the advantage of being local! Not only will you spare your wood thousands of miles of traveling across the planet, you’ll also get to choose the perfect color as you apply protective varnish.

A more contemporary and modern style is polished cement. It’s easy to care for and won’t degrade as time goes by.

Remember to decorate your deck with potted flowers. Bulb flowers are great because they multiply underground: every year or two, you’ll get two new bulbs for each old one!

A cheap hedge

Most affordable shrubs are young, like this low privet hedge.Buying hedge shrubs is expensive, especially if it runs a long way. In this case, it’s much better to purchase small seedlings. These are much cheaper than fully-grown hedge shrubs, and will quickly grow to full size anyways.

Silverberry, Photinia and wild privet are fast-growing evergreens that are ideal to mark the borders of your lot. If you’d rather go for a flowered hedge, select Kerria or mock-orange shrubs. Many garden stores reduces prices when buying shrubs in bulk. Also look into tall grasses such as Miscanthus, Bana grass or pampas grass to create an inexpensive hedge. This last ones grows very fast, bears tall flowers that tower between 1 and 5 yards tall (1 to 5 meters). They’ll do a good job in keeping nosy neighbors out.

Smart tip about cheap gardening

Prepare cuttings to multiply your plants for free! Not to mention the strength of community spirit: perhaps that nosy neighbor would appreciate swapping cuttings of your plants with theirs!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: John Tann
CC BY-SA 2.0: Elliott Brown, Tom Hodgkinson
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