Organic Vegetable Farm

How to create a low budget garden

You don't have to spend a load of money to have a stunning, eye-catching garden.  In this blog we shall show you how to be savvy with your spending and apply garden knowledge to create a beautiful, budget-friendly garden.

Planting Seeds

Grow from seeds

The first and maybe most obvious piece of advice is to grow from seeds, not starts.  It may require a little more work as you will have to start some plants off indoors, but it will definitely save you money. Plants can cost more than double the amount seeds do, so it is well worth the little extra effort it takes. 

 

If you want to create a lawn, then you will notice a huge difference in the price of grass seeds compared to turf!  It's easier, cheaper and if done at the right time of year it won't even take very long to grow.

Make sure you save your dead-headed plant seeds for next year.  Once the heads of the plant are brown and hard, snip them off with a set of sharp secateurs and put each type in a separate, labelled envelope or bag so you don't mix them up. 

Go to a seed swap

If you shop around, you can find some amazing deals when buying your seeds.  However, there is another cheaper and arguably more fun option called a 'seed swap'.  It's basically a social gathering where everyone gets together and swaps their seeds from the year before.  You never know, you could come out with a whole new garden and a friend to share your passion with.

Take cuttings

Growing from seeds is great for some plants but doesn't work so well for others.  Lots of things are hard to grow from seed, or don’t grow “true” from seed because they are propagated asexually (meaning they’re genetic clones).  Taking cuttings is a great way to produce several new plants from an existing one, which is perfect for if you're creating a garden on a budget. What's even more exciting is that if you have a friend or a neighbour with a plant you like, you can ask them if you can take a cutting and have a completely free new crop!

Grab a bargain

There are often great deals to be had on seeds and plants.  Sunday morning car boot sales and Open Garden events can be an exciting place to explore and grab a bargain, as seasoned growers with surplus stock often offload there. If you take a 'think outside the box' attitude then charity shops can offer a variety of items at a low cost, which can potentially be repurposed for your garden - you never know what you might find!  

There can be some cheap buys online in places such as Facebook marketplace, Gumtree, Ebay and Freecycle etc.

Winter is also a good time to find some seasonal discounts, so you can stock up ready for Spring.  We often have fantastic offers on our topsoil and soil improver in quieter months.

Trimming Leaves
Domestic Waste Bin

Make your own compost

Although ready-made composts can be a convenient option - they are not necessarily the cheapest, especially if you have a large garden!  A more sustainable option would be to make your own compost with food waste and garden clippings - packed with nutrition and totally free!  

It is very simple to make your own compost.  First you will need to purchase a suitably sized compost bin and decide where it is best to position it in your garden.  Ideally you want a shady or partially shady spot on an earth base, as this is best for drainage.  If you do place it on a hard surface, line the bottom with a few spades of soil as a base layer.

Fill your compost bin with kitchen scraps but avoid cooked foods - fruit and veg peelings and crushed eggshells are ideal. Aim for 25-50 percent of soft materials, such as grass cuttings, weeds, and food waste. Mix this with woody offcuts, leaves, cardboard, and paper. 

Then you just need to turn the heap with a fork once a month to aerate it and in 6 months to 2 years you will have a rich supply of compost.

Creating a path on a budget

There are budget-friendly options for creating paths, which require little effort as well as being affordable.  If you have a meadow type garden, surrounded by wildflowers, you can just mow a short, grass path.  If you have a traditional mowed lawn, then you should shy away from expensive slabs and use gravels instead - they come in a variety of colours to suit any garden.  You can sometimes buy recycled gravels which is a cheaper option.  Even cheaper than that though, if someone has recently cut down a large tree, you could cut thin round disks and lay them out to make a pathway.  Bark or mulch are another budget-friendly option for creating pathways, you can also add an edge at a low cost to stop the material from overspilling.  Try using concrete blocks instead of brick as it's cheaper, although the cheapest option is a plastic edging. 

We love some of the ideas on 'Family handyman'

Just remember - with a little extra research the job can usually be done cheaper.  Check local listings and online swap and for sale sites - someone else's junk can be another person's treasure.  People doing up their gardens are quite often just happy to giveaway old material to get it out of the way, so keep your eyes peeled for little gems that may be out there.

Botanical Garden
Image by Daniel Tafjord

Building garden furniture from pallets

There are many advantages to building your garden furniture from pallets.  It does take more planning and time, but it is cheaper, more unique, sturdy and weather resistant as well as being eco-friendly.  There are so many options of what you can build with pallets - from tables and garden benches to swings and raised beds.  The great thing about pallet furniture, other than the points already mentioned, is that you can make whatever your heart desires and really put your stamp on it.   

The best place to start is with a design - measure up the area where you want the furniture to go and decide what size pallets you need.  It is easier to design and build furniture to the size of the pallets where possible, so you don't end up having to cut pallets.  There are a few places you can source pallets from - try local online groups, free sites, Ebay, supermarkets, garden centres, small shops or industrial areas.   

 

You then need to repair or remove any broken parts of your pallets (holes can be filled in with a wood filler).  Next, smooth down the wood with a sander and remove any nails that might be sticking out to make sure there is no risk of splinters or injuries.  After this you want to clean the wood from any dust and apply a wood preserver to protect it from the elements.  Once dried you can apply some varnish or paint, whichever you prefer, and you can start linking the pieces together using screws, angles and flat bars (try and place them in the least visible places for a smoother finish).

 

Finally, why not add a touch of colour and comfort with cushions and throws (check out charity shops...) on chairs and benches or perhaps a glass top on tables.  

Recycle and repurpose

This is the exciting part, where opportunities are endless! There are so many items that can be repurposed - from practical items for growing to unusual aesthetic items. Old guttering, colanders, plastic bottles, old tyres, wellies, wheelbarrows or even old drawers can be used for planting. All it takes for a completely unique and budget-friendly garden, is a little imagination and time.  

 

Old ladders can be used as shelving to display your plants on, or even as a trellis support for plants such as ivy.  Large tools can also be used as supports for climbing plants - put 3 in a line spaced apart, then attach a piece of wood to the back of them to hold them in place and make the structure sturdier. Another idea for climbers is to attach old bicycle wheels to a long, vertical plank of wood - the plants will climb and weave through the spokes.  Some other ideas are old wooden doors, headboards, sections of garden fence, crib sides or even just using large tree branches tied together.

 

Visit your local charity shops with an open mind, more items can be repurposed than you might think.  Some people use old golf caddies to store and carry their garden tools, old teacups can make beautiful bird feeders, wooden chairs make an attractive and useful feature in the garden, large glass items can be planted to make unique table centrepieces or if they have a lid fill them with battery operated fairy lights. 

Recycled Bottle Planter
Studying in a Coffee Shop

The secret to being savvy

The secret to being savvy and having a budget-friendly garden is simply all in the planning.  Instead of hiring a garden designer, plan it yourself.  There are hundreds of books in the library and many online websites and forums with packs of advice and ideas.  Take your time and make sure your ideas best meet your gardens conditions and capabilities - it is far easier to work with what you have than aim for a garden which just would not grow in your soil for instance.  

Buy recycled where possible and keep an eye out for bargains.  Many shops and online stores have seasonal sales - sign up for newsletters online to be in the know for when the sales are coming up.  Visit car boot sales and charity shops for some real treasures, upcycle and repurpose items where possible.  Home-made is a thrifty way to create unique decorations or even make your own compost.  

The only limitation is your imagination - so stay open minded and create your own budget friendly haven on a budget.

Good luck!

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and find it useful. If you have a budget-friendly recycled garden, we would love to hear about it and feature it in one of our blogs. 

Email us at info@topsoiluk.com