Couple wearing dust masks sand down a wooden table outdoors

Easy ways to transform your garden cheaply this summer

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox

With summer approaching, many people will be planning to get outdoors and start sprucing up their gardens.

But with a number of households looking to save money, we have put together eight ways for you to enjoy and look after your garden without breaking the bank. 

1. Use leftover food to create natural fertilisers

Everyday items can be used to help your soil instead of store-bought fertiliser. Leftover food such as banana peel and eggshells are all good feed for your plants because of the minerals they provide, but most leftover food can be used.

Instead of getting rid of grass, weeds, and leaves, these can also be used as natural fertiliser as they slowly release certain chemicals that can help the plant last longer. So, when you are cutting your grass this weekend, make sure not to bag it all up.


2. Use household items to create plant pots

Something like a colander, which already has holes in it (for ready-made drainage!) can easily be upcycled into a quirky hanging basket. All you’ll need is:
-    an old metal colander
-    a hanging basket liner, so your compost doesn’t leak out of the holes
-    a hanging basket chain

To turn your colander into a hanging basket, attach the chains to it, either using its handles or by looping the chain through drainage holes near the rim of the colander, and pop your liner in. It’s as simple as that.

Other household objects could also be used, like cups, and plastic bottles, and even wellies! So, see what you have lying around instead of purchasing a new plant pot. 

3. Use an old mug to create a DIY bird feeder

Surprisingly, old teacup and saucer sets make very good bird feeders, and they’re easy to create. All you’ll need is a teacup and saucer, some superglue, and some garden twine.

You may have all these things around the house anyway, and if not, you can pick them up for a few pounds from a DIY shed or garden centre.

To make it, you’ll need to:
-    tie the garden twine around the saucer, a bit like you were tying a ribbon around a present - so that you have four long strands of twine that you can tie together in a secure knot to create a hanger
-    superglue the cup to the saucer however you like (we suggest tipping the cup on its side)
-    once dry, fill with your garden birds’ favourite nuts, seeds, and mealworms, and hang up your feeder for them to enjoy!

There are plenty of other items you could use to make a bird feeder, so keep your eyes out for possibilities.


4. Paint and upcycle your furniture to give it a new look

Outdoor trends seem to be as popular as indoors when it comes to summer furniture, with many retailers selling rugs, cushions, and other ornaments, to give your garden the new look for this year. 

2023 trends are more minimalist, with teak, natural stone, and pops of colour expected to be big. You could achieve these trends by upcycling and painting your old furniture to give it a new lease of life, while also following the latest trends.

Whether you’ve got an old picnic bench set, a table and chairs, or a wood-framed sun lounger, all you need to do to revive your wooden garden furniture is:
-    sand it down to get rid of any old stain or paint
-    carefully brush off dust with a dry paintbrush so you have a smooth surface
-    apply two coats of your chosen paint or wood stain

You don’t have to stick with recreating your furniture’s original look either. You can do whatever you like!


5. Use white vinegar to clean your patio 

We know white vinegar can be used for a lot of indoor cleaning, but did you know the same applies to your garden? Using one part vinegar to one part water, you could look to get your patio all clean and fresh for the summer evenings. 


6. Coffee could help your lawn stay greener for longer

Did you know an everyday cup of coffee could be helping your grass? Ground coffee is said to be good for your lawn because of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace minerals it contains. These nutrients are released slowly, which benefits the lawn over time. 


7. Perennial flowers and shrubs save money as they come back every year

If you are thinking of investing in some flowers for your garden, you could look to purchase perennial flowers and shrubs, as they tend to survive the harsh winter months and come back year after year. This would mean only buying the set of plants once, instead of every season. With the right care, these flowers and leaves should return and save you some money in the long run.


8. You could collect pallets for free to make seating

For those with a bit of extra time, how about creating garden furniture out of pallets?

Wooden pallets are something you’re unlikely to have lying around the house. But, you might be able to get your hands on some for free, or very cheaply, by asking nicely at your local builder’s yard, a nearby warehouse, a DIY shop, or even your local supermarket. 

You can try Facebook community groups and websites like Gumtree or Freecycle. Once you’ve got them, all you’ll need on top is a variety of screws and a drill, sandpaper, paint or wood stain, and some cushions to finish it off.

How many pallets you will need depends on what you want to make, so it’s a good idea to plan out your project ahead of time so you get the right number and don’t find yourself short, or with leftovers.

A corner sofa that can seat four people comfortably will need at least nine rectangular pallets. It may need more if you want your seats to have a bit more height, or if your pallets are small or square.


Hopefully, you’re now armed with some new ideas for your garden; but remember, the possibilities are endless, so get creative!

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

Author Profile Image: Helen Fox

Helen Fox

Personal Finance Editor

Helen is a personal finance editor who’s spent 11 years (and counting!) in the finance industry. She creates content on everything money with the goal of getting people thinking – and talking – about their finances in ways they may not have done before.

Couple wearing dust masks sand down a wooden table outdoors Couple wearing dust masks sand down a wooden table outdoors