Budget-Friendly Garden Projects

Time for some DIY fun with these easy-peasy budget-friendly garden projects.

A garden in the sunshine with shrubs, flowers and trees
(Image credit: Getty)

Spending time out in the garden is always a joy, especially when the sun is shining (just don’t forget to put sun cream on!) Not only is it fun to hang out in the garden, but gardening is linked to being good for our health - it’s a win-win. 

Having a garden project to work on can be enjoyable and it can make your outdoor space feel even more special. As well as growing your own fruit and vegetables, there are other fun (and cheap) projects out there. So, without further ado, here are some budget-friendly DIY garden projects to try at home. 

DIY insect hotel

An insect hotel in a garden

(Image credit: Getty)

Insects are a vital part of our ecosystem so we must look after them and give them the love they deserve. Did you know that around 80% of UK plants are pollinated by insects? If you’d like to see more of the minibeasts and have a fun statement piece in your garden you could have a go at making an insect hotel. 

An insect hotel (also called a bug hotel) provides a safe place for insects, like ladybirds and bees, to shelter and hibernate. Bug hotels are often made with lots of different materials, including logs, old tiles, pine cones, bamboo, dry leaves and stones to help attract different types of insects. Luckily, most of these materials are forgeable so you won’t need to spend money on them.

How to make an insect hotel

  1. On an even ground surface, stack wooden crates on top of each other (use as many as you like). Ensure they’re securely in place - you might need to tie them together.  
  2. Fill the spaces in the crates with a variety of materials, like dry leaves, bamboo, dead wood, pine cones, twigs, corrugated cardboard and stones.
  3. Cover the top of the bug hotel with some form of a roof, something like wooden planks will do the trick. 
  4. Watch as the bugs pack a suitcase and move in.

DIY compost bin & compost heap

A palette compost bin in a garden

(Image credit: Getty)

Having a compost heap in your garden has many awesome benefits. It helps to combat food waste as it turns old scraps into enriched soil, and it also provides a shelter and feeding spot for many different species of wildlife, like slow worms, hedgehogs, bats and toads. Not only this, but it’s also so much cheaper to have homemade compost than to buy it at gardening stores. 

How to make a compost bin

If you don’t want to have a compost heap without cover in the garden you’ll want to put the compost in a compost bin. Buying a compost bin can be a bit expensive, but there are cheaper, and even free ways to make one. 

Palette compost bin

Collect 4 palettes together and make the compost bin frame out of them by securing them together in a square shape. 

Dustbin compost bin

Use an old bin that has a lid. Drill some holes in the base of the bin so that the compost can aerate. 

How to make a compost heap

Now you have a suitable compost bin, you’ll want to start composting. It’s worth noting that it takes a while for your compost to be ready - roughly one to two months in the warmer months and may take longer in the colder months. 

  1. Find the area you’d like to put your compost bin, ideally a flat and more shaded area in your garden.
  2. Add some twigs at the bottom to be the base of the compost bin.
  3. Start piling compost goods on top, varying between wet and dry materials.
  4. Make sure you aerate the compost heap about once a week and add water to the heap if it looks dry.
  5. It’s ready to use once it has an earthy smell and goes a dark brown colour.

What to put in a compost heap and what to avoid

Good items to put in your compost bin 

  • Fruit and vegetable food scraps 
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings 
  • Leaves
  • Wood shavings
  • Cardboard 
  • Black and white newspaper

Bad items to put in your compost bin 

  • Meat 
  • Butter and oil 
  • Dairy products 
  • Weeds

DIY bird baths

A sparrow drinking out of a terracotta lid bird bath

(Image credit: Getty)

It’s always lovely to see birds pottering around in the garden, so if you’d like to see more feathered visitors in your outdoor space, there’s an easy DIY project you can take on, and that’s making a bird bath. 

Birds are attracted to bird baths because water is essential for them as they need to drink and wash in it. Birds need to wash regularly to help them remove dirt and to make it easier for them to preen their gorgeous feathers. So if you provide them with a bird bath, they’re certainly going to want to hang out in your garden more.

How to make a bird bath

One of the easiest ways to build a bird bath is by using 4 bricks and a watertight bowl (something like a terracotta saucer will do the trick).

  1. Place the 4 bricks on a level bit of ground. You can use more than 4 bricks if you want to give the bath more height, just place the bricks on top of each other. 
  2. Pop the bowl on top of the bricks and make sure it sits securely on the bricks - you don’t want it blowing away in the wind!
  3. Add an area of stones in the lid so that there are different levels in the bird bath - this is so the birds can perch on the stones to drink water as well as go into the deeper parts for bathing. 
  4. If you fancy getting creative and channelling your inner Bob Ross,  you can paint the outside of the structure however you fancy (the birds probably won’t appreciate the effort but it’ll be nice for you!)
  5. Fill up the bird bath with fresh water. A bird bath should only go as deep as around 1-4 inches of water.
  6. Watch as the birds flock to enjoy their new favourite bathing spot. 

Where to place a bird bath in your garden

If you can, it’s best to place the bird bath near trees in a shaded area of your garden so that the birds can quickly fly to safety and feel protected. Being in a shaded area stops the water in the bath from evaporating too quickly and will slow down the growth of pesky algae.

How to clean a bird bath

It’s important to keep your bird bath clean so the water isn’t harmful to birds. Ideally, you want to put fresh water in your bird bath daily to remove any yucky stuff that’s landed in the water and to stop it from going stagnant. 

It’s also really important to give your bird bath a thorough clean about once a week. This can be done by using a scrubbing brush to remove algae and dirt that has built up in the bath. After scrubbing, refill the bird bath with clean water-the birds will be more than grateful! 

DIY bird feeders

Blue tit bird with bird seed in their beak

(Image credit: Getty)

There’s no denying that if there’s free food available in your garden, it’s going to get those hungry birds to come and visit, so having bird feeders in your garden is another great way to attract them to your garden. Making a bird feeder is nice and easy, and you can even make one out of something you normally just pop in the recycling bin…

How to make a bird feeder

To make an easy bird feeder, all you need is an old juice carton, twine and a twig - who’d have thought it?!

  1. Cut a hole through the top of the carton so you can thread some twine through. This is for tying the bird feeder to the tree (get the hole around the middle of the top so it doesn’t go wonky when it’s on the tree).
  2. Cut a big hole through one of the sides of the carton (about halfway up the carton), this will be where the birds poke their heads through to get to the food.
  3. Cut a smaller circular hole underneath the big one, big enough for a twig, or something like a chopping stick, to fit through.
  4. Place the twig through the small hole so the birds can perch on it. 
  5. If you want to decorate the bird feeder, now is a perfect time, so get your paintbrushes ready and your creative juices flowing. 
  6. Add some bird food through the big hole. 
  7. Tie the bird feeder to your chosen tree.
  8. Watch the birds swoop in and gobble up the food.

I’d recommend buying bird food from Wilko as the retailer sells its own brand of bird food for a cheaper price than other branded alternatives. 

DIY pond

Frog swimming in a pond

(Image credit: Getty)

Ponds are an amazing addition to any garden. Not only do they look pretty but they also provide a home for frogs, toads, newts and aquatic insects like dragonflies, pond skaters and water boatmen. It’s also a super feeding and drinking spot for critters like hedgehogs, foxes and bats. So if you want to create your own watering hole scene from The Lion King (hopefully without the addition of a flatulent warthog called Pumba), a wildlife pond is a good way to go. 

How to make a wildlife pond

You can build a pond either in the ground by digging a hole for it, or you can have it above ground. If you want your pond above ground, make sure you provide a way for the animals to get to the water, something like a pile of pebbles and stones leading up to the edges will do the trick.

  1. Find a watertight container you’d like to use or add a piece of pond liner to a non-watertight container.
  2. Layer the bottom of the pond with gravel and stones and use logs and stones to create different levels within the pond so that your creature friends can climb in and out with ease.
  3. Fill the pond with rainwater. 
  4. Add a variety of aquatic plants. 
  5. Watch as the wildlife starts to hang out at their new favourite spot. 

Where to buy pond plants

You can buy a fabulous variety of pond plants from the gardening specialists stores like Thompson & Morgan and Suttons. Plants are an important addition to any pond as they help to keep the water clean as well as give wildlife shade and shelter, not only that but they’re easy on the eye as well!   

DIY hedgehog house

Hedgehog in a garden

(Image credit: Getty)

One of the nation's favourite wildlife creatures is the adorable hedgehog. A good way to encourage them to hang out in your garden is by providing somewhere they can find shelter and sleep. This is where a hedgehog house comes in. 

How to make a hedgehog house

For the most simple of hedgehog houses, all you need is 4 bricks, a paving slab and some hay and dry leaves.

  1. Pop the paving slab on top of the 4 bricks, each brick should be at the different corners of the paving slab. 
  2. Place the hay and/or dry leaves in the space underneath the paving slab.
  3. Watch as a hedgehog potters in and makes themself at home.

Where to put a hedgehog house in your garden

Find the quietest and most secluded spot in your garden. Hedgehogs hibernate so they need somewhere that will have minimal disruption. Hedgehogs' hibernation time tends to vary but it’s generally between November to late March. Placing the hedgehog house against a wall or fence is ideal, and if possible, you want to put it somewhere surrounded by plant cover. Hedgehogs like to build their nests, so in addition to the hay/leaves you have put in your hedgehog house, you’ll also want the house to be near somewhere that has lots of leaves so they can grab any extra materials they want for their new pad. 

A budget-friendly good time

Bumblebee on a purple flower

(Image credit: Getty)

As you can see, doing garden projects doesn’t have to cost much at all. A lot of the projects in this article involve collecting materials you can find scattered around outside or reusing stuff that might otherwise get thrown away. They’re not only cheap to make, but they’re a fun activity as well. In a time when things are getting more and more expensive, why not escape it all and have a good time with some budget-friendly garden projects? 

Emma Webber
Editor

Hi, I'm Emma! I've been working at MyVoucherCodes since January 2022. Before joining the MyVoucherCodes team, I had already been working in the savings industry for a good few years so I have a lot of knowledge on how to be a savvy shopper, and I love sharing my top money-saving tips. 

In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and being out in the countryside, dancing my heart out at festivals, painting, gardening and running. I also adore animals and since 2021, I've been a Website Editor and Social Media volunteer for a cat charity, writing about cats that are ready for adoption, happy rehoming stories and fundraising events.