Money Matters Team

Make your garden glow... on a budget

By Money Matters Team 30/06/2016

Remember that neglected, overgrown patch of dirt outside your back door? Oh, yeah, the garden.

We've found a set of garden hacks you can do whether you have a few hours or a few days. In each case all you need is some savvy buys and a little garden TLC to help a little go a long way.

Here's how to make your garden glow in...

A few hours

Embrace statement seating

Photo of patio furniture 

Deck chairs, beanbags, benches, wire chairs – no matter your style or space constraints, there's an outdoor seating option for you that can take your garden from outdoor storage space to instant entertaining area. Arrange a mix-and-match selection to create informal, intimate seating that is ideal for guests and helps to bring the comfort outdoors.

Give it a good tidy

Image of watering can 

It's dirty work but someone has to do it... a few hours pulling weeds, trimming back and clearing paths and giving the furniture a good clean, is key to making your outdoor space seem brighter.


Photo of outdoor tree decorations 

You'd be amazed what a difference a statement accessory or two can make to a garden: fairy lights illuminate the area, coloured glass lanterns dotted around the ground help establish mood lighting, while adding a colourful cushion – or ten – can lift the space and create a cosy atmosphere.

When it comes to exterior decor, try limiting yourself to two or three colours for a cohesive and elegant look that feels like an extension of the house. White is always fresh, always classic, while citrusy shades add a vibrant energy.

A day

Make a 'She Shed'

Photo of glass shed 

Yep, you read that right – the garden shed has gotten a feminine makeover, perfect for gardening, reading, arts and crafts, as a home office or for much-needed relaxation sessions. If you don't have a backyard shed already, you can buy an easy-build kit from a shop for under £400.

Or give your shed a lick of paint and decorate to suit your interests – try charity shops for unusual pieces which lend the space personality and save you money.

Make a garden feature wall

Photo of red and blue painted brick wall

If you're thinking that your garden is looking a little lacklustre, you can always perk up the space with a bold feature wall. Paint one wall a vibrant hue – especially good for a gloomy, low-sun spot - and you'll quickly establish an entertaining space and perk up a dreary outside. White and pale pastel hues will make the wall seem further away, opening up the space.

Or get on trend and create a living wall – also known as a green wall – with plants growing vertically. A smart solution when you're tight on space, you'll also gain some major environmental and clean air points. Cheap to make, all you need is some modular planters, shipping pallets, repurposed wooden crates or gutters.

Use concrete

Photo of concrete wall with built in flowerpots 
Hazel Estrada / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: hazelestrada

One of this season's Pinterest-worthy gardening trends brings some urban cool to nature. It's all about upcycling breeze-blocks. With their convenient rectangular shape and easy stacking potential, they're great for making modular planters, flower and tea light holders and even bird houses – they also create a striking graphic look. Breeze-blocks work well in small spaces (you can build up), are cheap and look chic.

A weekend

Edge your garden border and flowerbeds

Photo of small wooden lawn ornament 

If you want to keep your outside space from looking messy and unkempt, spend a couple of days setting up a low-maintenance border – just invest in a half-moon edger to help you along. Just be sure you're not digging into any drainage pipes before you get started!

You can use anything from painted pebbles to paving stones, coloured logs – basically, anything goes! Go on, get creative.

Lay a garden path or patio

Photo of garden path with lights 

Creating a paved area outside is helpful when you want to smarten up your garden, whether you want to make a path or create a designated patio area for entertaining. Check out this DIY guide on how to do it at Gardeners' World.

A week

Put in a pond

Photo of flowers floating on water 

If you have a few weekends to spare and are looking for a high-impact, high-reward garden idea, think about creating a pond, which adds colour, light, movement and even sound to your outdoor space. It's also a great way to attract wildlife like insects and birds.

You don't need a huge space to make this work – you can use an upcycled tyre to make a pond. Here's how.

Make sure your water feature is safe. Maybe fix some strong metal trellis just below the surface or protect your pond with a fence to prevent accidents! The RoSPA site has some good advice on pond safety.

A month

Grow a vegetable garden

Photo of potted plant 

Now here's a revolutionary idea: you can actually use your garden to, you know, grow stuff.

It's satisfying work, fun for the whole family and can save you money in the long run. Growing your own vegetables is also relatively straightforward – and doesn't require a huge amount of space. In order to make it work, you need a sunny spot (vegetables require six to eight hours of direct sun a day), lots of water and rich soil.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.