Budget backyard ideas: 13 ways to save when refreshing your outdoor space

Our budget backyard ideas are just what you need to update your patio, plants, or landscaping for cheap

budget backyard ideas wooden table on lawn with picked flowers
(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Our budget backyard ideas are just what you need to transform your plot without spending a fortune. After all, we don't all have tons of cash stashed away for the likes of luxe garden furniture, pricey paving and premium accessories. But, tightening the purse strings shouldn't hold you back from creating the outdoor space of your dreams.

When it comes to updating your plot, there's plenty of options that are stylish as well as affordable. From chic garden features and creative ways to pep up fences to simple jobs that make all the difference, we've rounded up some of our very favorite budget backyard ideas below.

And, if you're after even more inspiration for your garden, our backyard ideas feature is full of stunning styles.

1. Add a chalkboard to your budget backyard ideas

eames plastic chairs on decking from vitra

A chalkboard makes a playful touch to this outdoor dining area, featuring furniture by Vitra

(Image credit: Vitra)

If you're looking for a fun and easy way to update your backyard landscaping ideas, then why not add a chalkboard? 

If you've got little ones, it's a great way to keep them occupied (and deters them from scribbling all over your patio or decking). But, a chalkboard can be a stylish design feature for grown-up-only gardens, too. If you love alfresco entertaining, why not write up the menu for your guests? Or, get creative with inspirational messages or doodles to personalize your space. 

They're inexpensive to buy, but you could even paint your own onto a blank wall or cheap piece of board using chalkboard paint. Martha Stewart suggests to mix two tablespoons of unsanded tile grout to every cup of paint, before applying it to the surface and then sanding it down (once dry) with 150-grit sandpaper. Then, rub a piece of chalk over the entire area, before wiping away the residue with a slightly damp sponge. It's always a good idea to test it out on an inconspicuous area first, to check the results.

2. Reflect the space with a mirror

garden mirror on wall

Bring a mirror into your budget backyard ideas for an instant lift

(Image credit: aboveall/Stockimo/Alamy Stock Photo)

There's always a place for garden mirror ideas in a plot, and they don't have to be overly expensive. As the budgeting-experts at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk say, 'it's a quick and easy way to make the space feel larger.' Simply hang on a wall or fence to double up the view and bounce extra light around your plot.

For your budget backyard ideas, check out thrift stores or online marketplaces for treasures – they can be easily upcycled with a lick of exterior paint. Acrylic mirrors tend to be weatherproof by default, but you can always seal non-acrylic designs to prevent them from blackening over time around the edges. There are dedicated products available for this online or in good hardware stores.

3. Mow the lawn

wooden table with cut flowers on lawn for budget backyard ideas

Keep your plot in tip-top condition – it isn't expensive but will make all the difference

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Mowing the lawn. It sounds simple, it is simple (especially if you've checked out our guide on how to mow a lawn first), but it can make a whole lot of difference. And, as long as you have the mower already, it doesn't cost a penny.

As giving the turf a trim is such a failsafe way to transform a grassy garden, it makes a definite contender for the best budget backyard ideas. And, you can even leave the clippings on the ground in spring and summer – as they decompose they'll feed nutrients back into the lawn (just be sure they are weed free).

Speaking of small jobs that make a big impact, don't forget to look after your outdoor furniture too. Proper maintenance and cleaning will ensure that it will last for much longer – saving you from having to splash out on replacements. For a set like the one above, our guide on how to clean wooden outdoor furniture has all the tips you'll need. Meanwhile, our feature on how to clean outdoor furniture is full of upkeep advice for all kinds of materials.

4. Pair a brightly colored bistro set with charcoal tones

green bistro from Rockett St George on gravel

Opt for a vibrant bistro set for your budget backyard ideas – this one is from Rockett St George

(Image credit: Rockett St George)

The best bistro sets are a fantastic choice for budget backyard ideas. First and foremost, they can be super affordable. But, they're also useful if space is at a premium as many can be folded up and stacked neatly out of the way when more room is required.

Picking a vibrant hue is a great way to make a statement – we love this vivid green tone. Pair with budget-friendly gravel and paint the backdrop fence or wall in a charcoal color for a stylish scene which won't break the bank.

5. Opt for solar-powered lights

solar festoon lights over pergola from the solar centre

We love how these lights from The Solar Centre have been wrapped around a pergola – a perfect addition for budget backyard ideas

(Image credit: The Solar Centre)

'Instead of outdoor lighting, try solar-powered lights instead,' suggests the money-saving experts at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk. 'They will spend the entire day storing up energy from the sun, so when you want to use them at night it won't cost you a penny.'

There are plenty of gorgeous and affordable options available too – our buying guide to the best solar lights is full of great picks. Opt for festoons and string them around a pergola for an enchanting canopy overhead when night falls, or try stake lights to illuminate your pathways.

6. Give your shed a splash of color

blue painted shed with purple flowers

This shed makes a beautiful feature in its soft blue shade

(Image credit: GKSFlorapics/Alamy Stock Photo)

A shed can be a real focal point in a garden, so making sure it looks great will give your space a new lease of life, as says the experts at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk.

Giving it a new lick of paint is a brilliant way to while away a sunny weekend, and will help to protect it from the elements for longer. Simply sand it down and then paint it in your favorite shade – we adore this calming blue hue. Seeing as you'll only need to buy the paint and the brushes (or rollers), it's a pretty affordable update to make, so a great addition to your budget backyard ideas. You'll find everything you need to know in our guide on how to paint a shed.

Whilst you're there, why not give the inside a good sort out, too? Our shed storage ideas has lots of inspo for getting organized.

7. Up the cozy factor with plenty of textiles

budget backyard ideas with textiles in small space ikea

Pile on the cushions and throws for a comfy nook, like in this scene from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

Small garden ideas and even balcony ideas can be transformed into cozy outdoor living spaces with a few simple tricks. 

Outdoor cushions, throws, and rugs don't cost much. But, they will instantly ramp up the comfy factor and keep the atmosphere inviting. Go for complementary colors for a sophisticated vibe.

Lanterns are also a brilliantly affordable choice for outdoor lighting ideas – whether filled with LED candles or real ones they'll cast a romantic glow across the space. And if you're after a new seat, our guide on how to build a pallet bench provides a cheap yet stunning solution.

8. Add a tire swing

two girls playing on tire swing in garden

Bring joy to your budget backyard ideas with an affordable swing

(Image credit: MBI/Alamy Stock Photo)

As the team at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk say, 'Kids love a good old-fashioned tire swing, and providing you have a spare one, they are easy to make.'

'Make sure you have a sturdy branch in your garden to join the rope to, and then firmly attach the rope to the tire at three equal points, creating a seated swing,' they say. Of course, you can make a vertical swing instead if you prefer. For a final finishing touch, decorate it in colorful patterns – acrylic paint will do the job. Then, add a coating of clear varnish to increase its durability.

It'll provide hours of entertainment for kids, but who says adults can't have a go, too? And, if you're looking for more ways to keep the little ones occupied, our garden activities for kids feature has plenty.

9. Try upcycling for your storage solutions

blue painted crates for storage in garden

Old wooden crates can be given a new lease of life with a lick of paint – these have been transformed with Thorndown Paints

(Image credit: Thorndown Paints)

Storage is super important for keeping all your garden bits and bobs in order, but can be used to show off your favorite potted plants or outdoor ornaments, too. Well, rather than splashing out on swanky new shelving, try upcycling humble wooden crates. 

They are super versatile – you can position them on their side, as seen above, or connect them together vertically for your own DIY shelves (just be sure that they're secured to a wall or fence to prevent from them from toppling over). Leave them plain for a rustic look, or add a coat of the best exterior wood paint – this soft blue makes a gorgeous accent to a garden.

10. Use self-seeding plants

white astrantias

Astrantias and lots of other summer blooms will naturally self-seed – ideal if you're after budget backyard ideas

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

It's no secret that buying plants from a garden center can get expensive, especially if you're stocking up on a few. So, for your budget backyard ideas, opt for self-seeding varieties – you'll reap the rewards for years to come.

'Once planted and grown, the seeds from the flowers will fall and grow again the following year,' says the team at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk. Not only will this reduce the need to spend on new plants, but it's also a great solution if you're short on time.

Lots of the best cottage garden plants are self-seeding, including poppies, forget-me-nots, alchemilla mollis, and digitalis. Erigeron is another example, and looks lovely tumbling over stone walls or in reclaimed containers.

11. Bring a rain barrel into your plot

water containers in garden

Save rainwater to help the environment and lower your bills – it's a win-win

(Image credit: Colin Poole/Future)

If you're looking for budget backyard ideas as well as ways to up your eco-credentials, then try adding a rain barrel or two to your garden.

'By reusing rainwater, you'll be helping the environment and cutting down on trips to the tap as you save this precious resource,' says the team at The Home Depot. If your water is metered, this means you'll be spending less on your next bill, too. The barrels themselves aren't expensive and are easy to install. Simply tuck alongside a shed or the side of the house and connect to the pipe which drains the rainwater from the roof's gutter.

Our guide on sustainable gardens has lots more advice to help you do your bit for the environment.

12. Create a homemade birdfeeder

DIY birdfeeder made from plastic bottle

Attract birds into your plot with your budget backyard ideas

(Image credit: John Hopkins/Alamy Stock Photo)

Attracting local feathered friends into your garden will instantly give your space more life and color. Plus, watching them flit around is a real mood-booster, and is fun for kids, too. 

For your budget backyard ideas, try making your own bird feeders. All you need to do is cut holes in a plastic bottle and insert a wooden spoon. Attach a piece of jute to hang it from a branch or hook, then fill with a mix of bird seed. Alternatively, our guide on how to make bird feeders has other designs you can try.

13. Pep up your fence with a colorful mural

mural painted onto fence

Unleash your inner artist and create a show-stopping display

(Image credit: George Ostertag/Alamy Stock Photo)

Looking for budget garden ideas to pep up dull garden fence ideas or walls? Embrace your inner artist and paint on a mural. The possibilities are endless – from tumbling florals, jungle animals and butterflies to modern patterns. All you need is a few tins of outdoor paint, a brush, and a dry afternoon.

If you're not too sure about your painting skills, there are lots of stencils you can buy for an easy fix.

How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget?

upcycled tile planters

A little bit of creativity can go a long way when it comes to refreshing your space for cheap – we're loving these DIY tile planters

(Image credit: Barry Marsden/Future)

By now, hopefully you'll be full of inspiration for budget backyard ideas, but for more ways to make your plot look beautiful on a budget, take a look at these tips below:

  1. Mulch your borders. It's one of the easiest ways to ensure your plants get all the nutrients they need to flourish. If you learn how to compost or how to make leaf mould, then it's free to do, too.
  2. Grow from seed. Always cheaper than buying plants from garden centers, growing from seed can reward you with plenty of beautiful blooms. You can even collect your own from your garden to grow the following year for more flowers.
  3. Refresh or repurpose objects. Sometimes, fixing something that's broken, giving it a new coat of paint, or using it in a different way can be all it takes to make a space feel transformed. Try using an old sink or tin cans as garden planter ideas, painting a shabby table in a pretty hue, or fixing that wonky window frame on your shed, for example.
  4. Put your DIY skills to good use. If you're handy with a hammer or saw, then have a go at making your own garden furniture. Pallets and other reclaimed materials can be used to create all sorts of fantastic features – our pallet furniture ideas have plenty to get you inspired. If you're looking for something a little simpler, try learning how to make a tile plant pot like the ones above.
  5. Accessorize. If you're looking for budget backyard ideas, then picking the right accessories is key. A handful of colorful cushions, some pretty lanterns or a string of fairy lights can be all it takes to elevate a seating spot into something magical. And, it won't cost a fortune.
Holly Crossley
Acting Deputy Editor

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.