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Gardening: Six expert tips to get your garden summer ready on a budget

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Want your garden to look blooming marvellous this summer, without breaking the bank? Vicky Shaw finds out how.

Gardens are bursting into life as the weather gets warmer, making now the perfect time to do some groundwork to get your outdoor space looking its best for summer.

But with many household budgets already maxed out, your garden may have dropped way down the list of spending priorities.

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Thankfully, there are some ways you can spruce up your garden without breaking the bank.

Here are some cost-saving suggestions from Matthew Clague from tool hire firm Speedy (speedyservices.com), so you can get ready for entertaining friends and family this summer…

1. Transform it with a tin of paint

“A chipped or shabby fence, shed or wooden furniture can impact the whole look of your garden, so you’ll be surprised by how much a lick of paint can transform your outdoor space,” says Clague.

A protective paint can save money in the long run, he adds, as woodwork will be protected from the elements for years to come. “Before applying paint, make sure the surface is dry and brush away any dust and debris,” says Clague. “To make the job quick and easy and ensure a professional finish, use a paint sprayer.”

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And to avoid costly mistakes, he suggests testing your technique on a large piece of cardboard.

2. Get creative with wooden pallets

“Wooden pallets can be easily – and inexpensively – upcycled into all sorts of garden items,” Clague explains. “You can source them for very little online, and they are sometimes even free, but can be turned into pallet planters or garden furniture such as sofas and tables.

“There are lots of YouTube tutorials you can follow on creating seating and tables using only pallets, nails, a saw and a drill, even if you’re a DIY beginner,” he adds. “Add wheels to the bottom of a pallet table to make it easily to move around. And be sure to accessorise sofas with cushions and blankets, so they’re comfortable to use and you can keep warm into the early hours.”

3. Make your patio prettier

“Arguably one of the cheapest and easiest ways to spruce up your garden is simply giving it a spring clean.

“If you’ve got a concrete or paved patio, this includes clearing leaves and debris with a sweeping brush and using a pressure washer to shift stubborn dirt, algae and moss,” says Crague.

4. Make use of garden waste to save on money

“If you’re cutting back trees in your garden, you can hire a wood chipper to make your own wood chip. This is expensive to buy ready-made in bags from garden centres, but can be created yourself for free – either for decorative use on paths, or as mulch on bare soil to keep out weeds and add nutrients,” suggests Crague.

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“Alternatively, tree trunk slices could be used within a stepping stone path, larger trees stumps can be turned into rustic stools, and any smaller, sturdy branches should be repurposed as canes and supports for climbing plants.”

5. Think about creating height

Crague says adding height to your garden can be a good way to make more use of limited spaces, by drawing the eye to various features. “There are a number of ways you can do this – including incorporating plants that grow to different heights and installing trellises, but also building shelving into garden fences or walls using old crates.

“Crates can be screwed to the wall, painted in a complementary colour and then used to display potted plants. Arrange crates at different heights or fix a couple together to make a pigeon-hole style shelf unit,” he adds.

“Alternatively, use a saw to cut tree stumps at varying heights and place together in a corner of your garden. Position pots on top or hollow out and grow flowers inside the stumps. Vertical planters are also very sought-after at the moment and are another way to add height and impact. You can easily make them yourself by fixing plant pots to a wooden pallet, and drilling this into your garden fence.”

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6. Can you source tools for less money?

If you think you’ll get long-term use out of your tools, buying may be the most cost-effective option. But there may be other cases when you only need tools for a limited or specific purpose. “Hiring specialist tools can be another way to save money on garden makeovers, as it works out more cost-effective if you only ever use them a few times,” says Crague.

Plus…

In addition to these tips, it may be worth keeping an eye on websites such as Freecycle and Freegle to see if there are any useful items for the garden that people are giving away.

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