Making over a garden on a budget
If money was no object, it would be very easy to spend thousands of pounds having a garden landscaped, but if your budget is a modest one, here are just a few ways to achieve an attractive, designed look without having to break the bank.
A simple, effective and cheap way of adding instant interest to your garden is to re-shape the lawn – the right shape can make a small garden appear larger, make a narrow garden feel wider or add flow to a larger garden.
It can help to unite the disjointed elements of an existing garden, bringing everything together without having to start from scratch, and once you have your lawn shape, the spaces that then need planting will be obvious.
Use shrubs, trees and hardy perennials rather than re-stocking with annuals every year, and it’s worth choosing clump-forming perennials that you can divide easily – Japanese anemone, Bergenia, Hosta, Agapanthus, Sedums etc.
That way you can fewer than you need to start with and then divide them either straight away or the following year once they’ve spread to increase your stock for free!
Whilst a certain amount of hard landscaping – patio, paths, retaining walls etc – may be essential, it’s worth considering some of the lower cost options. Gravel, for instance, is a cheap alternative to paving, ideal for pathways and small sitting areas, and doesn’t require any specialist input to lay it. However if you prefer a more solid surface, and yearn for the look of real stone paving but balk at the price, there are some excellent imitation versions available at a fraction of the cost.
For raised beds and retaining walls, new oak railway sleepers are attractive and relatively inexpensive (and don’t leak tar like old reclaimed ones do), and like gravel they’re ideal to use if you’re carrying out the work yourself.
This could save you a substantial amount of money, but consider at the planning stage what free/cheap skills and manpower you have available to you from yourself, friends and family, and avoid incorporating features that are going to require paying for expensive specialist input (such as a qualified electrician to run a power supply out into the garden from the house) unless you’ve specifically budgeted for them.
Draw up a plan!
Whatever your timescale for completing the works, a plan is essential, not only to get you thinking about exactly what you want from your garden, but also to ensure that everything unites to produce a harmonious result at the end. The latter is particularly important if you decide to tackle things area by area over a longer period of time, as without an overall plan to work it’s very easy to end up with lots of different elements that just don’t relate to each other.