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How to Start a Small Garden on a Tight Budget

Galaxy is a keen gardener with over thirty years of experience creating beautiful outdoor spaces.

Flowers grown from seeds are so cheap that you can sow enough to fill the whole garden for pennies.

Flowers grown from seeds are so cheap that you can sow enough to fill the whole garden for pennies.

Gardening on a Budget!

I love gardening, but I (unfortunately) don't have a lot of money to pour into my garden. So, I’ve had to come up with creative ways to make my small garden interesting and pretty on a shoestring budget. My family spends a lot of time outdoors in the garden—eating, playing, or simply lounging—and I love creating a great place for us all to enjoy. I love looking at my beautiful garden and knowing I paid hardly anything for it.

Plant Herbs

I never throw much away; I keep any broken old mugs or interesting jars, glasses, and tin pots as I find they make interesting containers for small plants. Herbs look particularly good in small pots. Keep them just outside the kitchen; fresh herbs are so much better than the dried variety.

You can buy living herb plants from most supermarkets now, and if you pot them up outside, they will grow well and last for years. I have had the same mint, chives, and parsley plants for at least five years, and they are still going strong. They have saved me a small fortune over the years. They look pretty, too; if you let chives grow, they produce beautiful purple flowers. Rosemary, too, has a very nice flower stem that is a lovely pale violet colour.

Pots of Herbs Growing on a Patio Table

Pots of living herbs.

Pots of living herbs.

Save Interesting Old Cups and Glasses

Interesting old pots and containers.

Interesting old pots and containers.

How to Get Plants for Free

Save seeds! All of the flowers in the pictures above have been grown from seed. You can ask friends or family to save a few seed heads if they have interesting plants. When you have grown them, you can always give a couple of seedlings back to the people who gave you the seeds in the first place.

Take cuttings from other people's interesting plants—remember to ask for permission first, though. Many cuttings can be persuaded to grow roots, even if you just stick them in a glass of water on a sunny window ledge. Remember to change the water every two days to avoid the build-up of bacteria, which can stop your cuttings from producing roots.

A Water Feature Adds Interest to Any Garden or Yard

Fish with glass scales.

Fish with glass scales.

Help Your Garden Surprise People

I scour charity shops and car boot sales for interesting-looking things that I can place around the garden. I like to surprise people. Children love hunting around in my garden as they never know what they might find.

The fish by the water feature in the above photo cost me 50p in a junk shop. He looks wonderful when the sun shines through his glass scales. The small copper lizards in the photo below were four for a pound at a church table top sale—a real bargain. I have them dotted around on walls.

A Great Bargain Find, Looks Almost Real From a Distance

One of my bargain lizards.

One of my bargain lizards.

Wall Hanging Container Filled With Plants

Queens head wall container.

Queens head wall container.

Rust Can Be Good

I use old wall-hanging candle holders as hangers for wind chimes and hanging baskets.

The sun face wind chime with the bells was given to me by the shopkeeper because it was the last one he had and it had gone rusty!

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I happen to think it looks beautiful that way and would have rusted soon enough anyway, as you can tell from the hanging bells that I did buy from him the same day.

Interesting wall-mounted pots look good simply filled with any trailing plant. I think my queen's head pot looks best with reds and pinks. You could also try filling something similar with trailing strawberries or cherry tomatoes.


Rusty sun-faced windchime.

Rusty sun-faced windchime.

Rusty bells wind chime.

Rusty bells wind chime.

Adding Interest to a Dark Corner

A rusty lamp, shells, and a bucket add interest to this dark corner.

A rusty lamp, shells, and a bucket add interest to this dark corner.

Beachcombing for the Garden

When I take a trip to the beach, I always pick up a few seashells as they make an interesting and practical mulch for pots. They keep moisture in and the weeds out.

Beaches are a great place to pick up interesting-looking driftwood too. Never take large rocks or cobbles from beaches since it adds to coastal erosion.

The cobbles dotted around can be bought from most builders yards for a couple of pounds a bag. Much cheaper than if you go to a garden centre.

Lighting is an important tool to make a garden more interesting. I use old lanterns and stand them in pots of varying heights filled with soil and sand then top them with shells and pebble.


I make my own compost by saving all the raw vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, and cuttings from the garden, I have two compost bins on the go at all times, so I have a ready supply of nicely rotted compost whenever I need it. I also collect the fallen leaves in autumn and make a leaf pile in a secluded spot at the bottom of the garden. This too makes excellent compost.

If you group together fun, different things it makes for a much more interesting garden than a very formal one in my opinion. And if you follow these small tips, it shouldn’t cost you very much either.

Old Mocking Mask Found in a Charity Shop

Mocking mask hanging on a red brick wall.

Mocking mask hanging on a red brick wall.

Old Cracked Buddha Head and China Balls

Buddha head.

Buddha head.

Plant Bulbs

Plant bulbs that divide themselves each year, snowdrops are perfect. Choose a shady area of the garden, under a tree or large bush. Plant the bulbs at least twice their own depth and watch them multiply year after year.

After flowering, you can dig up a few bulbs and spread them around the garden for even more flowers next season, or swap them for something else with a friend or neighbour.

Snowdrops in Spring

Snowdrops blooming in springtime.

Snowdrops blooming in springtime.

Simple Tips, But They Work!

By using these simple tips, you should be able to make an interesting small garden or yard on a tight budget too. You can easily adapt these tips for a roof garden or balcony, just use pots and hanging baskets and be careful of weight limits.

© 2010 Galaxy Harvey


Anne from United Kingdom on April 18, 2016:

Hi again.

The person who persuaded me to try my hand at writing to earn money online has done very well here, and still does from time to time, but now earns elsewhere by writing up product reviews. He earns well for that but deserves to as he puts in a huge amount of research and effort into each piece. Yes, good luck to us both :-)

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 16, 2016:

I was Galaxy59 on Bubblews too. I know I followed you as Hollyhocks100 there, I did join persona papers but never really got into the site. I am looking forward to writing here a lot more in future, I know people who have made a success from this site and I hope we can both follow their lead!

Anne from United Kingdom on April 16, 2016:

I knew as soon as I saw your profile picture that we have been connected elsewhere and it must have been Bubblews or persona paper, if I´m right, what was your pen name there? I´m dying to make the connection. I was Hollyhocks100.

After a very long break from here I just posted my first hub today, and you are so right, Hubpages is still a really good place to write and earn, and I´m motivated more now to come back.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 16, 2016:

Thanks bac2basics. I must look out for crystals next time I am in a charity shop. Great tip. I really love finding things I can re-purpose for my home and garden. Much more fun than buying something new and ready made.

I think you are right about us being connected, I 'm sure I know you too. I am trying to get back into things here, it's still a great site.

Anne from United Kingdom on April 16, 2016:

Lovely hub and great ideas. My daughter picks up many treasures from car boot sales and charity shops and I´m often envious of her finds. One thing she looks out for is cheap costume jewelry especially things with crystals, and has made some lovely sun catchers from things that cost just a few pence or less than a pound.

It´s been a while since I looked at hub pages but I know those eye´s I can see on your profile and I know we are probably connected here and were on bubblews too, so I´m just going over to your profile now to check if I´m right. ;-)

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 24, 2013:

Thanks realmca for the comment and the link.

realmca on April 23, 2013:

Inspiring! I love how you make your garden interesting with the unusual cups and glasses and that it's a children-friendly garden. I liked your article so much that I linked to it from an article I wrote on kid-friendly gardening.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on August 25, 2012:

Thank you, MarleneB, I hope you find some great things for your garden and have fun doing it.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 25, 2012:

I love what you've done with your garden. Your tips are most helpful. I don't know why, but I never thought about going into a thrift shop to find little things to put into the garden. That tip alone is going to help me give my garden a boost. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on June 17, 2012:

Thank you NotTooTall, I love the hunt too, you never know just what you are going to find.

NotTooTall from The Land of Pleasant Living on June 17, 2012:


Nice Hub. Really like your fountain.

I like to shop yard sales, so finding new garden treasures on a budget is easier this way. Love the hunt!


Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on May 10, 2012:

Thank you wewillmake, gardening is a wonderful hobby.

wewillmake from kerala-INDIA on May 10, 2012:

I also love gardening... It gave me lot of pleasure and happy.. By seeing the beautiful flowers my mind got peace also...

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on May 10, 2012:

Thank you Sen.sush23, that water feature is made using half of a wooden beer barrel. I am so glad that you found this hub useful and thank you for the vote up. Good luck with your garden.

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on May 10, 2012:

i am planning on a terrace garden, and your ideas will be a bonus. I have been looking for a fountain of sorts for the garden,but the one you have here is unparalleled. I wish I would come across something like this. Great hub, voted up as beautiful. Thanks for SHARING.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on May 03, 2010:

Thank you, it's always wonderful to be inspiring.

Elayne from Rocky Mountains on May 02, 2010:

I love gardening too and you have inspired me to find some more treasures.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 13, 2010:

theherbivorehippi- thanks so much, I love my windchimes too I think they look so much better all rusty then when they are new.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 13, 2010:

itakins - thanks for the comment. I love searching around for odd things for my garden, it's great fun.

theherbivorehippi from Holly, MI on April 13, 2010:

I am in lOVE with your windchimes! These are all fabulous photos! Beautiful hub!

itakins from Irl on April 13, 2010:

I love these ideas.I think a lot of the fun and creativity of gardening is finding bits and pieces to recycle.Great hub.

Galaxy Harvey (author) from United Kingdom on April 12, 2010:

Very true, they just taste so good and they're free!

RTalloni on April 12, 2010:

Good tips here! Fresh cut herbs from your own garden can't be bought at any price!

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