Budget patio ideas: 14 cheap ways to transform your outdoor paved space
Refresh your seating area without splashing the cash with these budget patio ideas – from furniture picks to styling advice and more
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Our budget patio ideas are just the ticket if you want to update your outdoor space but don't want to spend a fortune doing so. With a bit of creativity and styling know-how, it's simple to put together a gorgeous zone for cheap.
Refreshing your patio ideas is always worthwhile when warmer weather's on the way. After all, that paved space is quite often the most used spot in a garden, especially if you're a fan of outdoor entertaining. It's a place to relax on a lounger, host delicious summertime lunches, or enjoy after-dark drinks' parties beneath the stars. Of course, the addition of pretty plants and ambient lighting will only add to the appeal.
And, although there are plenty of luxury looks out there, it's absolutely possible to create a functional and beautiful area without spending oodles of cash. From investment pieces that will last years to reclaimed materials and statement accessories, our budget patio ideas are all you need to create the space of your dreams.
1. Embrace reclaimed materials
If you've already checked out our guide on 'how much does a patio cost?', then you'll know that reclaimed materials, such as bricks, are a great way to cut down on prices.
What's more, they'll add a lovely, laid-back look to a space – perfect for cottage garden styles – and are highly durable. Just be sure to keep them clean and algae-free to stop them from becoming slippery – our guide on how to clean a patio has all the tips you need.
Check reclamation yards and online marketplaces for deals. Or, ask your neighbors if they've recently been undergoing renovations, in case there's any going spare.
2. Cozy up your budget patio ideas
There are tons of fire pits and chimineas available for under $100, especially if you opt for wood-burning designs. They make a wonderful addition to budget patio ideas, as they create a cozy and welcoming ambience even when the chillier evenings draw in.
As they'll tempt you to use your space for longer throughout the year, they're definitely a worthwhile investment. And, some designs come with nifty grill accessories, meaning you can cook on them too.
Our outdoor heating ideas feature has plenty more designs to get you inspired.
3. Get creative with storage
Patios need to be practical as well as stylish, which is why garden storage ideas make a useful addition. However, they're not always the cheapest.
But, if you're handy with a bit of DIY, you can make your own rustic shelf with a set of old apple crates or wine boxes. They make a unique feature and can be used to display your favorite pot plants, LED lanterns, or boxes of tools – ideal if you're short on floor space. Make sure it's secured into the ground or to a wall behind to ensure it doesn't topple over in the wind.
Woven fence panels are also an attractive option for budget patio ideas if you're looking for an extra dose of privacy, without splashing out on a full fence. Just opt for one or two panels, and position them where needed.
4. Go for durable rattan for your seating
If you're after budget-friendly outdoor seating ideas for your patio, then rattan makes a great choice. Although there are some high-end options, you can find cheaper alternatives at some garden centers or places like Ikea (opens in new tab) which are just as good. If you go for modular designs, you can also build up your collection over time, spreading out the costs.
It's also a great material to choose because, as Ryan Schwarze, Head of Luxury Rattan (opens in new tab) says, it is extremely durable and made to last. Outdoor rattan is also easy to maintain, he adds. 'After a gentle wipe down with warm soapy water it can be left in the sunshine to dry and looks as good as new.'
For budget patio ideas, Ryan also suggests to opt for a neutral color that will complement any additional garden decor. That way, you can simply mix up the tones of your scatter cushions if you fancy a cheap and easy update down the line. However, this blue set above has got us swooning.
5. Add a statement piece of furniture
If you're looking for affordable yet modern garden ideas, then consider investing in just one or two pieces of statement furniture. That way, even if you mix them with thrift store buys or cheaper designs, they'll capture everyone's interest and give your space bags of style.
These woven cord chairs aren't overly expensive and will bring a sense of joy to any of your budget patio ideas with their sunshine yellow hue. We love how they've been paired with inky-black raised beds for a striking contrast. Complete the look with solar-powered lanterns hung from trees for a summery touch.
6. Accessorize your dining zone
If you love to entertain guests, then outdoor dining ideas are a must. And, even a budget-friendly set can be given an extra dose of pizzazz with the help of colorful tableware.
A wipe-clean tablecloth in a jolly pattern is a simple way to update the scene through the summer months. Keep an eye out for deals on garden dinnerware too. There are lots of colorful melamine or acrylic styles that will instantly pep up summer lunch parties. Or, go for products made from sustainable bamboo for extra eco-friendly-points.
Tie-on or scatter cushions are also an easy and affordable way to boost the comfy factor for even the cheapest of chairs. We love these polka-dot red designs for a pop of vibrancy.
7. Make your mark with paint
Another simple and affordable way to makeover your space is with a fresh coat of paint. Try adding a splash of color to window frames, flower pots, or even a bold feature wall – all you need is a tin or two, a brush, and a sunny afternoon.
It's also a stunning way to lift reclaimed or tired-looking furniture, and saves you from spending money on replacements. We're loving this soft blue tone for a soothing vibe, but pick whatever shade suits you. Our garden color schemes guide is full of tips and extra inspo.
8. Layer up the textiles
As Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Leader of Ikea (opens in new tab) says, 'The beauty of soft furnishings – like cushions and throws – is that they're a great way to mix up your outdoor space and create an extension of your interior's style.'
'However, you can also use your outdoor space as an opportunity to try something new,' Clotilde continues.
Both patios and decking ideas alike can benefit from layering up the textiles, and there are tons of low-cost styles out there. From outdoor bean bags to cushions and rugs, enjoy mix and matching designs for an eclectic and cozy look, or go for a pared-down palette for a more refined style. Either way, it's a simple method to make a space more inviting.
9. Try click-together tiles
Love the look of porcelain pavers? They're durable and sleek, but unfortunately, they also come with a high price tag. If you don't have the budget (or the time) to have them installed, then this is a fabulous alternative.
Adorned with an eye-catching pattern, these tiles click together with no need for tools. It's quick, gorgeous, and easy on the wallet – a great way to elevate dull pavers, lacklustre concrete, or ropey decking. They make a perfect choice for balcony garden ideas, too.
10. Go bright and tropical
If you want to bring a real sense of summer to your space, then a loud and proud look like the one above might just tick all the boxes. It's an explosion of color that's fit for a party – all you need is a piña colada or two!
When it comes to patio cover ideas, a parasol is generally the most affordable option. Plus, it can be a design feature in itself as well as keeping you protected from the sun.
And, 'Although they might not be the first thing that springs to mind when adding to your outdoor area, outdoor rugs are fantastic for bringing a space together and creating a cozy and sociable atmosphere,' says Clotilde Passalacqua of Ikea. We couldn't agree more – our buying guide on the best outdoor rugs is full of our favorite picks.
11. Set the mood with festoons
Garden lighting is crucial for creating an ambience after dark, and is practical too. However, costs can quickly add up. For budget patio ideas, you can't go far wrong with festoons.
String up along fences for a festival-style vibe that's perfect for warm summer evenings. If you go for solar versions, then you won't even need to worry about a plug – the sun will take care of things for you. Pair with charcoal tones – as seen here – for a sophisticated look.
Our patio lighting ideas feature has plenty more gorgeous designs.
12. Opt for gravel instead of paving
If you're looking to build a brand new seating space, then garden gravel ideas are often a more affordable choice than paving slabs, especially if you go for pea gravel. Plus, this stony material is versatile, super low-maintenance, and stylish, too.
So when it comes to budget patio ideas, don't be afraid to shun the pavers for gravel instead. As demonstrated here, it looks fabulous when combined with a pretty bistro set and potted plants. As an alternative, try integrating sections of paving for a pleasing mix of textures.
13. Embrace container planting
Container gardening ideas are a simple way to pep up a lacklustre patio or courtyard, and can be totally affordable, too.
Go for long-lasting perennials, bulbs, and evergreen shrubs and add to your collection over time to build up an oasis of flowers and foliage. There are lots of pretty annuals that can be grown from seed in pots too – it's a bit more work but you'll be well-rewarded when they bloom.
'There's a real beauty in imperfection, so why not try mixing and matching different plant pots?' adds Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Leader of Ikea. Scout out your local thrift store and, if you're feeling creative, try reviving old designs with exterior paint.
14. Add twinkling lanterns
Trellis ideas for gardens are a timeless choice for elevating a wall, and allow the opportunity for fabulous climbing plants. But, when used as a screen or to top a fence, they can also be used to hang pretty lanterns off to create a magical evening atmosphere.
Small glass lanterns like these aren't expensive, but you could even make your own by securing jute string around the tops of old jars, or by upcycling washed-out tins. Opt for LED candles as a safer alternative to real flames, just remember to bring them indoors if it rains.
How can you make a patio look nice on a budget?
By now, we're sure that you've found some budget patio ideas you love, but for even more inspiration for making your space look nice, here's a handy checklist:
- Buy to last. True, it might be a bit more cash upfront. But, when it comes to larger pieces, it's well worth going for the highest quality you can to ensure that they last the test of time. Otherwise, you'll just end up replacing them in a year or so. Go for low-maintenance pieces to make your life easier and stick to neutral tones. That way, if you decide to change up your patio's theme, you can do so easily with accessories.
- Speaking of accessories, they are the easiest and cheapest way to channel your personality into your plot and tie together a specific theme. Think cushions, throws, plant pots, lanterns, even outdoor dinnerware. And, for special occasions, bunting and other garden decor ideas are lovely additions. A handful of well-chosen items can really transform a space.
- If you have some DIY skills up your sleeve, then building your own garden features and furniture is a great way to save. There are ample pallet furniture ideas you can try for a weekend project – why not learn how to build a pallet bench, for example? Paul McFadyen, Managing Director at metals4U (opens in new tab) also suggests building your own bar: 'It's simple to do, all you need are some wooden or metal pieces for legs, and plywood for the base and front,' he says. 'To make it feel more luxurious, add brass or copper sheets to the front and for the bar top. Metal sheets are ideal surfaces for bars as they're really easy to clean,' Paul adds. 'Copper and brass are both suitable for outdoor use as they do not rust; surface oxidation naturally occurs to form a protective patina which transforms the surface color slowly over time. The surface can also be treated with clear metal lacquer to maintain its original color if preferred.'
- Reclaim, recycle, and reuse – it's a money-saving motto! Check out your local thrift stores; upcycle old jars, tins, and other household bits and bobs; give unloved objects a new lease of life with paint; and keep an eye out for reclaimed materials that can be used for hard landscaping.
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.
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