5 Budget Garden Ideas to Inspire Your Green Thumb

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on June 15, 2020

If you’re lucky enough to have a yard, you’re probably realizing just how important it is—and how you’re ready to make the most of it. Creating an outdoor garden can bring a sense of wonder, inspiration and simplicity to your life, not to mention adding beauty, vibrant colors and even healthy vegetables (perfect for all that home cooking we’ll be doing this summer). But landscaping can often be expensive and overwhelming. Enter these budget garden ideas, designed to work for backyard spaces and patios of any size.

According to Modern Farmer, you can save major money by starting with seeds instead of seedlings. A six-pack of lettuce seedlings, for example, can cost $6 or more, while a pack of 500 lettuce seeds costs less than $3. The same holds true whether you’re growing flowers, herbs or veggies—seedlings will cost substantially more. However, if you’re a complete novice or don’t want to put in the extra time or effort, consider that the plants are one of the more nominal costs when creating your garden. Items like tools, irrigation and planters will undoubtedly cost more.

We’ll be honest: outdoor planters aren’t the best item to employ budget garden ideas. They’re usually pricey, because they’re built to withstand the elements. “A good planter always has drainage, and a lot of good planters also have a built-in drip tray to catch the water that drains through and then allow the root system to absorb it back up,” says Havenly designer Brady Burke. The materials—ceramic, concrete, and other weather-resistant materials—are also costly, and the large size of outdoor planters can push the price even higher. “But even if the plant dies, the planter doesn’t! It’s an investment, and you can reuse it,” Brady shares. “A quality planter will serve you for a long time,” he says.

“You can use vertical wall planters on the sides of a balcony to add a little bit of greenery, texture, and depth,” Brady says. “In most cities, a lot of the balconies are made from iron railings and concrete, so those spaces can feel a little sterile, he says. “Adding plants, real or faux, adds color and life.” This tip is particularly helpful for city dwellers, although vertical gardens also work equally in large backyards. 

Similar to a vertical garden, you can use an existing wall or fence to create a simple, DIY trellis. This easy trellis pattern, designed for climbing clematis, would work well for other climbing plants like star jasmine or bougainvillea. Bonus? It adds graphic intrigue without any climbing plants at all.

If you live in a warmer climate, you might not need a greenhouse—but hear us out. This mini, portable greenhouse is a fantastic budget garden idea because it would work as well for housing gardening tools as it does for shielding plants from the elements. The simple, wood frame complements a range of decor styles while the translucent glazing board lets color and texture shine through. 

DIY planter boxes are versatile, customizable and affordable. Grow anything from veggies to perennials in these easy-to-build boxes, which can be as simple as using an existing wooden crate or box, drilling holes in the bottom for drainage, and adding casters if desired for ease of movement. Of course, you can get creative from there—this modern planter bench is multifunctional, while this tiered planter box would look great leading up to an entryway (and costs just $10 to make). Simple outdoor decor elements like gravel and pavers can turn a planter box into a focal point. Check out the photo below, from one of our Havenly teammates, for added inspiration.

Ultimately, having a garden is about cultivating beauty and connecting with nature, no matter how big or small your garden grows.

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Words by Sara Watson