Cheap Garden Design Ideas

Check out these tips and see how gardening actually lends itself to thriftiness.

Fire Pit

Fire Pit

Build your own fire pit to create a cozy focal point for your outdoor space.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Shayne Newman

Image courtesy of Shayne Newman

Build your own fire pit to create a cozy focal point for your outdoor space.

Designing a gorgeous garden on a shoestring isn’t impossible. By embracing a host of cheap garden ideas, you can cobble together an outdoor space that’s beautiful, inspiring and affordable. Cheap doesn’t have to mean shabby. The fact is most cheap garden ideas just make sense.

Every great garden starts with great soil. One of the best cheap garden ideas is not to skimp on soil preparation. The adage is to tuck a $5 plant in a $10 hole. Definitely spend money on making sure your soil drains well and encourages healthy plant growth, especially if you’re planting trees.

Make your own compost so you can maintain well-draining soils rich in organic matter, especially if you’re growing edible crops, roses or beds of annuals. Nothing is cheaper than homegrown compost, especially when you make it from kitchen scraps, lawn clippings and autumn leaves that litter your property.

Always buy soil additives in bulk, if you can arrange the use of a truck. You’ll save a small fortune over bagged items. For larger deliveries from landscape companies, team up with neighbors to split delivery costs. Many companies can divide the truck bed to split loads; just be sure to inform them of your intention when you place your order.

Dividing existing perennials—in your yard or a neighbor’s—is another cheap garden idea that saves you big bucks. Many people are happy to share plants, especially if you offer to help with digging. Many gardeners also gladly share seedlings of spreading perennials. Strike up conversations with neighbors who garden, and don’t hesitate to ask for a start of something. Most greenthumbs are thrilled to share the wealth.

Shop for plants in the off-season. Scour temporary and discount store garden centers in late spring-early summer for deals. Look for early spring perennials that are entering summer dormancy, like bleeding heart and Virginia bluebells. Stems may appear dead, but roots should be lively—and prices will be dirt cheap. Don’t plant these beauties in the heat of summer. Just stash them in a partially shaded area back home. Plant in fall, and your garden will leap out of the ground next spring.

In late summer to early fall, look for deals on perennials. Most nurseries have a discount area. Learn where it is, check it often, and cash in on the price slashing. Another cheap garden idea is to let plants set seed. Larkspur, Verbena bonariensis, blackberry lily and hollyhock are just a few of the plants that happily set seed and spread through the garden. Grab seedpods and toss their contents where you want new plants.

Hardscape is vital for a beautiful garden, but can be pricey. Forgo expensive edging by digging a shallow trench around planting beds. It’s a snap to maintain with a lawn edger or string trimmer and looks fantastic. Develop paths over time. Start with grass paths (make sure they’re wide enough for your mower), and slowly graduate to more permanent surfaces as funds and time permit. Follow the progression from grass to bark mulch to gravel. Ultimately aim for a hard surface, such as bricks, flagstones or pavers.

Purchase garden furniture during post-July 4 sales or search out bargains at estate and yard sales. A wire brush, spray paint and elbow grease is all you need to revitalize classic wrought iron furniture. Or build your own bench using concrete pavers. This simple technique saves big money and no one will guess it’s a cheap garden idea.

Choose a DIY firepit design to chase the chill on autumn evenings, and build your own water garden. With research and a free or low-cost seminar at a local garden center, you can craft your own dream garden.

Next Up

Upcycle Dollar Store Baskets Into a Unique Hanging Planter

Beautiful cascading planters can be hard to find. Making your own has never been so simple or affordable.

5 Small Things We've Bought That Saved Us Money in the Long Run

From products that help curb expensive drink habits to long-lasting LED lights, take a cue from our editors and discover small household items we love, all under $100, that can save you money down the road.

How to Make a Garden Fence From Upcycled Pallets

Keep critters out of your garden with this inexpensive fencing alternative that can also serve as a planter.

Your Summer Garden Will Thank You for These Walmart Must-Haves

Make the most of the season with these gardening essentials that won't break the bank and will keep your lawn and garden looking fresh.

Shop HGTV Urban Oasis 2021: Outdoor Design on a Budget

Head into your backyard and completely refresh your space. Create an outdoors that's an extension of your home without breaking the bank.

HGTV Obsessed Episode 19: Tiffany Brooks

In our budget decorating episode, Tiffany Brooks host of $50k Three Ways, talks about projects that add the most value to a home. Then Kelly Wilkniss of the Decorating Tips and Tricks podcast shares creative ways to get high style at a low cost.

Cheap Kitchen Cabinets

Just because they don't cost a lot doesn't mean they are "cheap."

15 Small Space-Friendly Desks Under $300

Finding a budget-friendly desk for a small space can be tricky, but these under-$300 picks will give your apartment or guest-room-meets-home-office the function it needs.

DIY Dollar Store Christmas Decor Your Wallet Will Love

These decor ideas will blow you mind, not your budget.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.