Spruce up your garden on a budget

With temperatures starting to rise, more of us are choosing to spend our free time outside in the garden. Creating a space where you can relax and enjoy nature doesn’t have to cost much. Whether you have a small garden, patio or balcony, there are plenty of budget ideas to help you make the most of what you have. Even if you live in a flat, there are some simple ways to bring the outdoors inside.

We’ve picked a few of our favourite ideas to get you started.

Create a mini pond

Use an old tub or plastic storage container, fill with fresh water and add plants such as water lilies or iris. Watch as robins, goldfinches, house sparrows and a variety of insects visit your garden.

Make a shelving unit

Indoors: To get the same effect indoors, paint an old stepladder and use the rungs as shelves. Decorate it with some colourful pots and place it near a window, away from radiators.

Outdoors: Put your best pots on display with the help of some old ladders. First, tie two ladders together at the top to create an ‘A’ shape. Then lay some wooden planks across the rungs to create a shelving display of potted plants, lanterns and decorative accessories.

Light up the garden

Here’s an easy way to make your own windproof tea light holders. Clean up some old jam jars, pop a tea light in each one and arrange around your garden - perfect for night-time stargazing.

Two ways with plants and flowers

Bedding plants: Add instant colour to your garden by buying a selection of bedding plants. The cheapest way to do this is to buy them in ‘plugs’ (smaller versions). Put them in the garden or add them to a planter.

From seeds: Start your blooms from seeds and have the satisfaction of watching them grow. You can get the kids involved in this too – let them plant and water their own creations. To start with, use some plastic plant pots, put some pebbles in bottom, add compost (available to buy at garden centres) or soil from your garden and plant the seeds. Instructions on the pack will guide you – it’s very easy to do.

Reuse old pans

Before throwing away old pots and pans, think about whether they could be used as small planters instead. Their hard-wearing shells make them ideal for the outdoors. Simply drill a couple of drainage holes in the bottom, add some compost or soil from your garden, and plant seeds or bedding plants.

Make a small wildlife bath

Birds and hedgehogs love fresh water so why not create a wildlife bath in your garden? All you need is an old fruit bowl, Tupperware box or cake tin to enjoy nature up close. Remember to put a few pebbles in the bottom and keep it topped up with fresh water.

Bring the inside out

No garden furniture? No problem. Take a rug, coffee table and some floor cushions outside to create your own seating area.

Upcycle unwanted items

Give an unwanted chest of drawers or wheelbarrow a new lease of life by turning them into unique garden planters. Paint the drawers or wheelbarrow in bright colours, drill some holes in the bottom, plant them up and arrange in your garden.

Start a vegetable box

If you’ve never grown veg before, then keep it simple by starting with a large wooden box or container. A basic cedar planter, garden soil, and seeds should cost about £40. Grow lettuce, greens, and spinach as these seeds are sown on top of the soil and don’t have deep roots.

If you live in a flat, go for a window sill herb garden. Herbs such as basil, oregano and rosemary will do quite well. You can buy herb planter kits for about £30 or make your own rectangular wooden planter.

Create a wildlife haven at home

A new campaign, My Wild Garden, has been launched across Greater Manchester to give people advice and tips on how to care for and improve the natural environment. The initiative is being run by the Wildlife Trusts and partners, who manage around 50 nature reserves across the region and are dedicated to the conservation of wildlife.

If you’d like to play your part, you can find out more by going to: www.lancswt.org.uk/our-work/projects/my-wild-city Here you can download a ‘My Wild Garden’ booklet packed with useful tips and activities on how to attract and protect wildlife in your outdoor space.

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