THIS balmy Bank Holiday weekend is the ideal time to revamp your garden. But you don’t have to fork out on fancy furniture and pricey plants.
Savvy savers are finding ingenious ways to transform their outdoor spaces while spending very little or nothing at all. Here, Harriet Cooke explains just how they manage it.
Trash to treasure
PUT junk to use in your backyard to avoid splurging at the garden centre.
Lynne Lambourne, 47, a garden designer from Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, lives with daughters Grace, 17, and Kate, 13.
She repurposes everything from teapots to ladders and said: “I have a lovely chest of drawers I use as a planter.
“It’s a great way to liven up a dull corner of the garden.
“Even if the frame has gone, old drawers can be turned into raised beds with some outdoor varnish to stop the wood rotting.”
Ladders are great for plants in hanging pots or climbers.
Lynne added: “Wellies, teapots and tins can be used as planters if you drill holes in the bottom.
“So much stuff goes into landfill that could make lovely garden features.”
Lynne is urging shoppers to save preloved items from landfill as part of the British Heart Foundation’s Reuse Revolution campaign, which runs in its charity shops next month.
See more of her ideas Lynnelambourne.com.
LYNNE’S TIP: Check secondhand sites such as Gumtree, Freecycle, Freegle and Facebook Marketplace for furniture at a fraction of the cost.
Fill flowerbeds free
GEORGINA SPENCER, 39, a manager at a humanitarian organisation who lives in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, found a clever way to fill up her flowerbeds without spending a penny.
She said: “Instead of buying new plants, I filled the beds by dividing what was already there, taking cuttings and collecting seeds.
“Plants keep regenerating. I turned one Salvia into eight plants, which saved me about £50 from the garden centre.
“I have a veggie patch and bought seeds from Wilko rather than plants. They take longer to grow but it’s much cheaper.”
Georgina, who is married to Gavin, 42, a sports club groundsman, uses a water butt and compost bin that came with their house to save on water and fertiliser.
She said: “The trick with composting is to layer it with cardboard, grass cuttings, then more food waste.
“It magically breaks down, then add more. In time you will have a lovely rich compost, all for free.”
For more ideas, follow Georgina’s gardening journey on Instagram @lolly.and.bean.
TURN wooden pallets into an outdoor sofa to save hundreds of pounds on garden seating.
Ian Braidwood, 55, from Fetcham, Surrey, did just that five years ago. And his sofa is still going strong.
Ian said: “A neighbour was throwing away some pallets, so that’s where it started. I worked it out as I went along, starting with the seat then adding two end pieces.
“I didn’t use anything else apart from a hammer, nails, a few screws, sandpaper to smooth rough edges and leftover wood paint.
“It’s important to use the right kind of paint. Otherwise it will rot over time.”
A set of three outdoor cushions from The Range, £59.99, will finish off your sofa nicely.
IAN’S TIP: Pallets are often given away free on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. See the Pallet Projects For Beginners group on Facebook for ideas.
SALVAGE discarded items to create quirky corners in your outdoor space.
Freelance writer Joanne Dewberry, 41, and her fiance David Giltrow, 40, used road signs they rescued from the dump and an old shop sign to create garden benches for their Dorset home.
Joanne said: “David can’t bear waste, so everything we used to make the benches was reclaimed — railway sleepers, timber from a conservatory and signs he collected from tips. David made it up as he went along.
“It took a bit of adjusting to make the seats comfortable but now they are so snug.
“They cost nothing and we use them for eating, working and relaxing with the children — Charlie, 15, Megan, 13, and Olive, 10.
“At night, we sit out with throws and a glass of wine.”
JO’S TIP: Take the time to measure carefully and cut your materials to perfectly fit whatever outdoor space you have available.
PLANT and seed swaps are becoming more and more popular as keen gardeners use sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp to save on buying from garden centres.
Sarah Jane Jakes, 53, from Welwyn Garden City, Herts, was startled when the plant-swapping Facebook group she started in her local area shot up to more than 500 members in just ten weeks.
The mum to four grown-up kids — Lee, 34, Ricky, 32, Danny, 30, and Molly, 24 — is unable to work as she has fibromyalgia. She lives with her partner and carer Marc Jelbert, 56.
She said: “I often share my tomatoes, cucumbers and seeds with neighbours — and I thought there must be more people like me who have grown too much, so it started from there.
“People have been swapping all kinds of things — plants, flowers, houseplants — often just leaving items on their doorsteps with a name on them.
“It’s very friendly and informal. People also leave out extra cuttings in case a plant doesn’t take.
“The group is getting busier as the weather warms up. Members have started giving away tools, hosepipes and other equipment, which has been really positive.”
SARAH’S TIP: Look for seed swap events run by gardening groups in your area or set up one yourself on social media.
Chime to relax
WIND chimes are not only peaceful and relaxing to hear, but are also handy for deterring birds from stealing your seedlings.
What is more, you can make them for free from metal objects you may have in your garden shed.
Ex-marine superintendent Captain Tim Schofield, from Laxey, Isle of Man, 72, uses them to protect his homegrown fruit and veg.
He said: “I’ve found bird netting or natural deterrents like small wind chimes to be a safe and kind way of keeping the birds away from my fruit and veg.
“Bugs, slugs and birds are a huge challenge, especially as I don’t want to hurt birds with any bug repellent.”
TIM’S TIP: You can make your own wind chimes using items such as old keys, metal bottle caps, spoons, shells and tin cans.