How to update your garden on a budget
If you want to update your garden on a budget, RHS Hampton Court Flower Show has lots of good ideas.
There are, of course, the top show gardens, where the budget is way over anything you or I could manage.
But even those have ideas you can copy without breaking the bank. Here is my pick of the best budget-friendly ideas at a recent ‘Hampton Court’.
Update your garden with vibrant colour
The Bizzy Lizzie, formerly the most municipal of bedding plants, has had a makeover, courtesy of B&Q.
No-one mourned when it disappeared from the shelves due to a virus. And I wasn’t particularly interested to hear that B&Q had developed a virus-resistant variety, the Imara Bizzy Lizzie.
But top marks to the B&Q team for showing what you can do with standard bedding by planting it in big blocks and teaming it with exotic plants.
Update your garden by resurrecting old favourites
Are there other plants you’ve begun to take for granted? Fuschias, for example, or dahlias? The great fun of today’s gardens is that ‘knock your socks off’ seems to be replacing quiet good taste.
Go for it. Add a few new varieties of familiar, easy-to-look after plants to add instant zing to your garden. Such plants are usually easy to find and buy, which means you can update your garden without spending too much money.
Make an impact with size
Fill one large planter and make a statement, rather than planting lots of little ones up. It’s also easier to water, as small pots need watering daily. Big ones hold water better.
These pink Nurgul pots from B&Q cost between £17 and £68.
You could also paint any big plastic pot in a vibrant colour. Use a specialist plastic primer, such as Rust-oleum Plastic Primer Spray Paint . You can then paint any colour or brand of paint on top.
(Note: links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy through them, but it doesn’t affect the price you pay. Other links are not affiliate.)
Paint your fence or shed a stunning colour
There were some wonderful fence and wall colours this year at Hampton Court. This is a look that we could all mimic.
Many top garden designers also suggest that you paint your fence dark, especially if you have a small urban garden. Award-winning garden designer Charlotte Rowe and her design director Tomoko Kawauchi talk about this in 5 top garden design tips and 2 mistakes to avoid.
Update your garden with a spiky plant (or two)
The jungle look has well and truly arrived, and there were spiky plants everywhere at this year’s RHS Hampton.
You could buy an agave…although it might poke you in the bottom as you bend over to weed.
Buy ‘exotics’ that will survive your weather…
The most budget-friendly way of acquiring exotic plants is to choose ones that will survive, so you won’t have to keep replacing them.
The Chusan Palm, or Trachycarpus Fortunei is less prickly and will over-winter in most UK and Northern hemisphere gardens, provided that it is sheltered from winds. Around £10 for a small one from Palms-Exotics.
And you can find cordylines very reasonably in most markets. And they seem to survive anything, judging by the neglected cordylines I see on the streets.
If you can be patient, it’s always cheaper to buy smaller and let it grow – but there is the worry that ‘exotic’ may have passed by the time it gets large. Pick fast growers like Carex ‘Feather Falls.’
Pines are back…
Pines used to remind me of my parents’ home in Camberley (Surrey) rather than fashionable exoticism. But they are beautiful sculptural plants that have been over-looked, perhaps because they’re evergreen.
It’s definitely time to add a pine or two – buy them small and keep them in pots. Then you can plant them out – if you like – when they have grown.
Update your garden with recycling
Don’t take those old kids’ bikes to the tip. Paint them and use them as garden features.
There are more recycling and upcycling garden ideas in 15 ways to transform your garden with upcycled junk. And have a look at 5 really obvious ways to make your garden better.
Buy (or find) extra water butts
One water butt really does not save you money on water. It only lasts about a week into a drought. But I like these four tiers of water butts from the RHS Grow Your Own with Raymond Blanc Gardening School. I’d have lids on the butts in case small mammals fall in, though. You may be able to find old water butts via Freegle (or Freecycle).
Embrace your inner ‘cottage garden’
If you want your garden to look contemporary, fill it with flowers. Lots of the same sort, or lots of different ones…it’s hard to get it wrong. Choose flowers that do well for you or try experiments.
I have a stylish garden designer friend who refers to gardens with a mix of flowers and colours as ‘fruit salad gardens’. It does not sound like a compliment. Not the way she says it, anyway.
But a riot of colour, attracting birds and pollinators, is what gardens are about now. And because there are few ‘rules’, it’s relatively easy to achieve on a budget. See this post for more about how to achieve cottage garden style.
And if you have to update your garden on a budget, plants can be the most cost-effective way of doing it. Swap, grow from seed or pick up bargains in nurseries and the market.
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