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Trying to figure out how to make your garden look nice on a budget is actually quite easy. One of the best things about planning a garden is that you can take it in any direction that suits your fancy. You have the flexibility to basically do whatever you want. A garden can be designed in any manner you want it to be, it is a blank slate waiting for you to get started.
Want a landscaped space comprised solely of gorgeously fragrant, blooming plants? Go for it.
Want a garden that is full of vegetables and herbs? Perfect.
Dreaming of a space that wonderfully melds vegetables, herbs, flowers and native plants? Go all out.
The limiting factors are your creative imagination and the space (and budget!) you have available to use. Even in small spaces you can make a gorgeous garden in fact you’d probably find it cheaper if you have less space to work with.
Don’t limit yourself to just your backyard either. You can learn how to landscape your front yard yourself as well. Making a cheap front yard garden that looks great will certainly add to the curb appeal of your home. You can even put a small garden around your mailbox, that can look really nice.
If you are in need of a new mailbox I wrote up an article about what I think is the best mailbox and a great and unique way I found to install it.
Now to get the most of your garden space on a budget but still making it look nice, it is important to sit down and do some planning before going out and spending any money on garden plants. Taking a few minutes or days to think about a couple of concepts will help make the most of your garden space and your money.
Pick a Spot With Available Light
Available light is one of the key factors in growing a beautiful garden, regardless of the plants chosen, or the care given to them, is making sure they receive the proper amount of sunlight needed. Plants need full sun, partial sun/partial shade, or full shade.
Full Sun – Full sun means the spot receives 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day. It doesn’t have to be a continuous 6 hours, and can be broken up throughout the day, with some occurring in the morning and another chunk in the afternoon.
Partial Sun / Partial Shade – These two terms are fairly interchangeable and mean a spot receives 4-6 hours of direct sun over the course of the day. Both would prefer to receive early morning or evening light, being shaded from the most intense sun in the mid to late afternoon.
Partial sun plants need a minimum of 4 hours and will do better the closer to 6 they can get. Partial shade plants need a maximum of 6 hours of sun but prefer the lesser amount.
Full Shade – Full shade means less than 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. This doesn’t mean the plant never receives any sunlight. Full shade plants will thrive with filtered sunlight, or some early morning direct sun.
Types of Plants for Your Garden
Plants can be classified in one of three ways Perennials, Annuals and Biennials. Make sure to take into account their growing tendencies:
Perennials return year after year with little to no encouragement, providing continuous garden blooms. These plants tend to have a higher price tag up front but can be more economical in the long run.
Annuals only live for one growing season and need to be replanted every year. They can add color to small sections of a garden and be switched out year to year.
Biennials are a hybrid of the two; the first year is spent focusing on vegetative growth, the second year the plant blooms and completes its life cycle.
Raised Beds or In Ground Planting Look Nice on a Budget
A raised garden bed is in essence a large planting box used for gardening instead of the traditional method of sowing plants directly in the ground. The raised beds, or “garden boxes” add an aesthetic appeal to the landscape, while also providing many advantages to the homeowner: portability, ease of use, handicap accessible, better weed and pest control, extended growing season, and higher yields.
They are pretty inexpensive and adding a few around your yard would like really nice. If you are somewhat handy you can save some money by simply heading down to the local home improvement store buying some cheap supplies and making your own raised garden bed yourself.
Obviously this requires much more physical work but it might save you some money, which is always nice.
After you look at those garden ideas, you can get into the fun part! Sitting down and designing a plan that will make your garden look nice on a budget but that also allows you to express your creativity and come up with an idea that is perfectly suited to your personality.
Traditional Garden Layouts on a Budget That Look Nice
I think this is the stereotypical image of what a garden looks like when most people think about a garden. It is extremely popular and the easiest to plan and implement. A traditional site is designed in either a rectangular or square shape with plants forming neat, tidy rows within the garden site.
Plants can be grouped based on height, companion planting benefits, or by the types of vegetables/flowers grown. Space between the rows allows the gardener easy access to plants and weeds can be controlled by hand or using a roto tiller.
Watering and fertilizing is simplified due to the uniform garden shape. Raised garden beds work well in a traditional garden design.
A design can be created that incorporates garden space into an established landscape. Sometimes a homeowner doesn’t wish to dedicate a large, rectangular/square space to a garden but still wants the benefits of a large garden.
Instead they can add garden plants along the perimeter of a yard, nestling vegetables and herbs amongst flowers and shrubs. A great option with a non-traditional layout is to add undulating landscape curbing throughout the yard.
This curbing creates a border, separating the garden from the lawn. You can then plant small chunks of vegetables or herbs in this perimeter bed. This works best if there is an irrigation system in place to reduce the time spent watering by hand.
The biggest benefit to this system is if down the road the desire for a garden diminishes, it is easier to fill the spaces with landscape shrubs or even rocks/mulch versus having a chunk of ground that needs to be reseeded, or turned into something more useable.
Container Gardens Look Nice on a Budget
A container garden is also another extremely popular idea, especially if you are just beginning to garden or don’t want to spend a lot. Of course you might need to buy some containers and they can very from really expensive to really inexpensive. You can always buy cheap containers or you can even find containers just lying around that can be used. You certainly do not need to spend a lot of money on a container.
Vegetables and herbs can be planted in containers and then placed on a patio or scattered around the yard, creating visual appeal to the landscape. Containers can be moved as needed and are easy to tend to. Containers are a great, easy and cheap way to make your garden look nice on a budget.
If you really don’t want to spend much money on anything just go to your nearby big box store and buy a few packs of plant or flower seeds. These are very cheap and will only cost a few bucks. It is a little more work because you have to plant them and nurture them a bit and hope they grow. This is certainly cheaper than buying fully grown plants or flowers and it can be more fun.
I love planting seeds and watching them grow from nothing into a beautiful flower. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
Rock Garden Ideas
Another inexpensive way to make a nice looking garden on a budget is to create a rock garden. Rocks are certainly cheap and you don’t have to worry about watering them or giving them plenty of sunlight.
Rock gardens can look really great, and it doesn’t have to just be rocks you can plant a few flowers here and there which will help give the rock garden a touch of color and make it feel a bit more vibrant.
This would definitely be cheaper than filling a large open area with nothing but flowers and plants, and it would require much less maintenance. If you just have an empty space that really doesn’t get much sunlight and you don’t know what to do with it, maybe try a rock garden.
On a Budget Make Your Garden Look Nice with Additional Garden Elements
No matter the design layout, remember that many budget friendly elements can be added to a garden to increase its aesthetic appeal. Water features will encourage butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden, which in turn will then pollinate garden plants.
Flowering shrubs and garden flowers bring extra color to a space, breaking up the solid green. Garden centers and nurseries also have a huge selection of wind chimes and other decor to help personalize a space.
I also like those little solar powered landscape lights, some aren’t so great but others look really nice and really spruce up a pathway or driveway or anywhere around a garden and you can get them for a good price.
A garden should be a reflection of you, an extension of your personality. Adding a variety of plants, decor, and other landscaping features can help create a unique space that will be well enjoyed. If you do a great job it will make your yard look so much nicer and much more enjoyable to look at everyday.
These are just a few of my ideas but I am sure you can think of many more that will give you the garden space that is perfect for you and at the right price.