5 cheap garden ideas that will make your outdoor area look smart

These cheap garden ideas will transform your garden without breaking the bank

cheap garden idea with paint and Adirondack chairs
(Image credit: Getty)

If you're after cheap garden ideas, you've come to the right place. Sure, an elegant set of garden furniture will make any garden look smart, but if right now you're budgeting for something else and what to save on your garden redesign, there are plenty of ways to spruce up your garden that are cheap, but create a smart look. 

Browse our favourite cheap updates below; then, for more garden ideas, head to our hub page.

1. Experiment with exterior paint

(Image credit: Getty)

Whether you have a deck, a patio, or even just a balcony, sometimes all it takes to change the look of your outdoor area is painting just one wall, or one section of a deck, a different colour. Start with a neutral shade that complements the rest of your building, and then progress to bolder options. 

Browse the best exterior wood paint, with prices from just £20, in our buying guide.

John Lewis & Partners Basket Rope Garden Lounging Armchairs, Set of 2, Terracotta

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

2. Make the most of garden lighting

Lights4fun garden lights

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

You'll be amazed how quickly and radically a garland of outdoor festoon lights can transform an outdoor dining area. Spend in the region of £40–£50 on a long garland that will cover the length of your whole garden, or create a pretty multi-line display above your garden dining table.

Get more garden lighting ideas in our gallery.

3. Start a plant table

Brown Hedgehog Pot Hanger, Ella James

Brown Hedgehog Pot Hanger, £10.50, Ella James

(Image credit: Ella James)

A plant table is the easiest way to create a smart plant display with your potted plants, and it can be done very cheaply. You don't need a new table for this, as it will get water marked by all the pots anyway, so get a second-hand one. Then, get your pots (plain terracotta ones sell for only a few pounds at garden centres), and get planting. Herbs are easy and cheap to grow from seed, or start a terrarium with succulents – terrarium kits start at £22.99 at Dobbies.

terrarium from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

4. Accessorise the dining table

outdoor dining area by John Lewis & Partners

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Want your outdoor dining area to look smarter? Accessorise! Plates look much smarter with place mats (from £8 for two at John Lewis & Partners), and adding balloons (from £5 for a pack of 5) will create a formal and celebratory look.

5. Lay an outdoor rug

Lhasa 1.2m x 1.8m Outdoor Rug in Orange & Violet from Cuckooland

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

An outdoor rug will instantly smarten and soften the look of a deck or balcony, and is a must if you're planning an outdoor room. Prices vary, but expect to pay around £50 for a good-quality, large outdoor rug.

More outdoor ideas: