House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

13 DIY Small Garden Ideas On a Budget Plans You Can Make Today

garden with wooden edge

A garden is a perfect way to escape the daily routine and dive into a world full of blossoming flowers, delightful fragrances, and a serene atmosphere. However, even the most beautiful, lovingly made, and eye-grabbing yard does get somewhat boring over time. The good news is, there are lots of amazing ideas out there that can make your garden look and feel brand-new.

We took our time with this guide and picked 13 top-of-the-line plans that are equally affordable, easy to make, and will have a big impact on your garden. A little bit of patience, a set of basic tools, and sleight of hands—that’s all you’ll need! So, are you ready to check out what they’re all about? Let’s get to it!

divider 1

The 13 DIY Budget Small Garden Idea Plans

1. Grow A Cheap Lawn From Seed

DIY plant grass seed
Image Credit: Savvy Gardening
Materials Needed: Grass seeds, sand, water, fertilizer
Tools Needed: Shovel, garden hose/sprinkler, rake, fork/cultivator
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Do you think that a traditional lawn is just too expensive for your garden? Then lawn seeds will be right up the alley! In contrast to sod that costs $1.3 per square foot, seeds are as cheap as $0.25. And you won’t need any expensive tools or materials, just some sand, a bag of fertilizer, and everyday garden tools like a shovel, rake, fork, and a garden hose. On average, it takes 1–2 months to grow a cheap lawn from seed.

2. Pallets As Herb Gardens

DIY turn a pallet into an herb garden
Image Credit: Jen Around the World
Materials Needed: Pallets, wood panels, potting soil, weather-resistant screws, a can of paint
Tools Needed: Power drill, screwdriver, staple gun, level, paintbrush
Difficulty Level: Easy

Pallets are dirt cheap; sometimes, you can even get them for free. However, there are many exciting DIY pallet plans you can make. For example, why not use pallets as herb gardens? This DIY project will only take 1–2 hours to complete, and you’ll be rewarded with a sight for sore eyes. As long as the pallets are big and sturdy enough to hold your herbs and soil, you’re golden. And when picking between different paint colors, go for something bold like pink, bright blue, or orange.

3. Inside-Out Tire Planters

DIY inside out tire planters
Image Credit: Crafty Little Gnome
Materials Needed: Old tires, potting soil, paint, spray primer
Tools Needed: A sharp knife, garden hose, brush
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Folks on a tight budget that need new planters ASAP will definitely like this one. Inside-out tire planters do require some DIY effort on your side, but nothing the average gardener can’t handle. Cut the tires, flip them out, place them in the yard and that’s it. Be careful not to hurt yourself with the knife! Thanks to their perfect shape, these planters look great even when half of the garden is occupied with rubber tires of different sizes. To add an aesthetic touch, add a layer of paint right after you prime the tires.

4. Mason Jar Bird Feeders

DIY mason jar bird feeder
Image Credit: Natural Beach Living
Materials Needed: Mason/pasta jar, natural jute twine/rope, wooden dowel, birdseed
Tools Needed: Scissors, glue
Difficulty Level: Easy

If you’re looking for a cheap small garden DIY plan that you can build with your kids, Mason jar bird feeders will be a great choice. They are incredibly simple to make and very fun to work on. The whole project will take less than an hour to complete. Put the jar as close to your windows as possible so that you can watch the birds eat. Grab any jar you have at home, wrap it with a sturdy enough rope, and hang it from a tree, fence, or clothesline. Finishing up, fill the jar with birdseed, and enjoy.

5. Make DIY Compost

DIY easy composting
Image Credit: Family Food Garden
Materials Needed: Soil, kitchen scraps, weeds, grass cuttings, food waste, leaves, cardboard, paper
Tools Needed: Container, fork, rake
Difficulty Level: Easy

Ready-steady compost from the local store is, of course, very easy to use. However, for a relatively big garden, premium-quality fertilizer costs a pretty penny. Well, you can always make DIY compost using waste from your own yard and kitchen. Mix nitrogen (veggies, weeds, grass clippings) and carbon (hay, paper, cardboard, wood ash) materials 50/50 for the best results. On average, it takes 6–24 months for the waste to turn into compost.

6. Build A Tree Trunk Garden Path

DIY simple garden path
Image Credit: Hometalk
Materials Needed: Cottonwood logs, motor oil, soil/dirt, wood chips
Tools Needed: Tiller, Sticks, string, miter saw, level
Difficulty Level: Moderate

The best thing about this DIY plan—any tree type will work. As long as you’ve got easy access to some logs, you can build a tree trunk garden path in 1–2 days. Start by cutting the logs into trunks. Next, cover them with motor oil to avoid rotting, and place the trunks using a measuring string and level. To get the soil ready, we recommend using a tiller (or you can do this by hand). There are no strict rules here: add as many wooden discs as you see fit.

7. Put Together A Pea Gravel Pathway

DIY stable pea gravel path
Image Credit: Gardener Of Good And Evil
Materials Needed: Gravel, decomposed granite, soil
Tools Needed: Shovel, rake, protective gloves, hand tamper
Difficulty Level: Easy

Tree trunks do look awesome as a garden path, but they also take expertise and time to build. So, if you’re not ready to take on a project like that just yet, put together a pea gravel pathway instead. It will be a lot cheaper, that’s for sure. Plus, you’ll be able to get it done in 24 hours. See that you have enough gravel, soil, and granite. As for the tools, a sturdy shovel and a hand tamper will help build a lovely path for your garden.

8. Grow New Flowers From Cuttings

DIY grow plants from cuttings
Image Credit: Reuse Grow Enjoy
Materials Needed: Peat moss, perlite, water, flower cuttings, pots
Tools Needed: Cutting tool, isopropyl alcohol (for sterilization)
Difficulty Level: Easy

Starting plants/flowers from seeds is fun and all, but at a certain point, it does get pricey. Luckily, there is a tried-and-true solution, and it’s called propagation. It’s when you grow new flowers from cuttings. And just like that, you cultivate an entire garden for practically nothing. Pick a stem/shoot you like, cut it to about 4–5 inches long, and remove all the leaves. Next, plant it into a pot filled with compost, water the shoot, and cover it with a plastic bag.

Please do keep in mind that not every single plant/flower can be propagated. So, check this before you get to cutting.

9. Go For A Tiered Raised Bed

DIY tiered raised garden bed
Image Credit: Anika’s DIY Life
Materials Needed: Landscape fabric, construction lumber, recycled fencing materials, corner braces, and plates
Tools Needed: Miter saw, cordless drill + bits, pocket hole screws, sander, staple gun
Difficulty Level: Moderate

In some cases, Improvised pots and pallets are simply not big enough. If that’s exactly how you feel, go for a tiered raised bed. It will be equally useful for vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and can be a lifesaver in small gardens with limited space. Thanks to the trellis, you’ll be able to grow tomatoes, vines, and other climbing plants. Don’t rush it: take some time to figure out the right size of the planter box before you get to cutting and drilling.

10. Hanging Mason Solar Jar

DIY mason jar hanging solar lantern
Image Credit: Bre Pea
Materials Needed: Solar lights (2.5-inch width) 18-gauge wire, hooks, Mason jars
Tools Needed: Pliers (needle-nose), gloves
Difficulty Level: Easy

Very few things look as beautiful as solar lights in a garden during nighttime. And we’re happy to say that you won’t have to spend big bucks on fancy lanterns. Instead, you should build a hanging Mason solar jar—this will only take 30–60 minutes. So, we encourage you to build dozens of these and put them all over the property. The trick here is to find jars and solar lights that fit each other in size. Plus, you will have to take the plastic housing and the ring off the lights.

See also: 5 Types Of Grass In Texas: Top Choices For Your Lawn (With Pictures)

11. DIY Garden Hod

DIY garden hod
Image Credit: Julie Gavin
Materials Needed: Wood planks, wood dowels, wood glue, cloth, stain or sealant, sandpaper (60-grit), nails
Tools Needed: Circular, table, and jigsaw, measuring tape, marker, square, paint can, pliers, sander, drill + bits, hammer, staple gun wood clamps
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Essentially, a DIY garden hod is a basket with a wire mesh at the bottom. If you’re tired of bringing in dirty produce, with a hod, you’ll be able to rinse them off without even entering the house. For an avid gardener that loves to eat produce from their own garden, this project will be a 10/10. Building it will take some time, however, and you will need a long list of tools, like a circular saw, a drill, and a staple gun. But, at the end of the day, this plan will pay off handsomely.

See also: 10 Types of Garden Hoes & Their Pros & Cons (with Pictures)

12. Lawn Edging With Gravel/Chippings

DIY shaping a lawn with slate chippings
Image Credit: Farm Food Family
Materials Needed: Marker spray paint, lawn edging strip, gravel, chippings, or bark
Tools Needed: Sticks, string, measuring tape, turf cutter (half-moon), spade
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Lawns look great in any environment—no doubt about that. Still, there are some tricks you can use to make them look even better. We’re talking about lawn edging with gravel/chippings, of course. And instead of using any strict, geometric forms, go with a circle or an arc. This way, you’ll be able to accentuate the lawn, make it come forward.

See also: 11 DIY Wood Garden Edging Plans You Can Make Today (with Pictures)

13. Floating Planter

DIY floating planter
Image Credit: garden therapy
Materials Needed: Polystyrene sheets, latex paint, watering mat, nylon cord, blocks, bolt + nut, washers
Tools Needed: Glue (latex-base), florist knife, scissors, gloves
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Got a pond right in the middle of your garden? Then consider building a floating planter. There’s nothing quite like having plants/flowers floating and growing on water. So, how is this going to work? The plan is rather simple: cut tire-like shapes from polystyrene, glue them together, paint, add some soil/fertilizer mix, and “set sails”! Oh, and don’t forget to drill holes on both sides. This way, excess water will have a way of escaping the planter.

See also: 20 DIY Projects with Bricks Plans You Can Make Today (with Pictures)

divider 1How Can I Keep My Expenses To a Minimum?

Every single DIY plan that we just discussed is affordable. You won’t have to buy any pro-grade tools or hire contractors. With that said, there are still certain things you can do to keep the budget low:

  • Always use reclaimed materials. Did you know that reclaimed stuff is 50–75% cheaper? That’s true, and it’s also more environment friendly. We’re talking about wood, bricks, and concrete, to name a few. You’ll find these on dedicated websites and residential construction dumpsters. Ask the owners, and they’ll most likely give you everything for free. Reaching out to family/friends for project leftovers is also a great idea. Last, but not least, check out the local salvage stores.
  • Rent tools instead of buying them. This one’s self-explanatory. While rakes, hammers, and, say, screwdrivers aren’t at all expensive, miter saws, electric drills with bits, and sanders may cost a pretty penny. That’s why you might want to rent these instruments. Again, there are dozens of dedicated rental services in every city. Reach out, get a price estimate, and get your hands on those tools!
  • Use gravel whenever you need rocks. It’s no secret that gravel is one of the cheapest rocks on the planet. On top of that, it is (relatively) lightweight and has excellent drainage characteristics. If you don’t have any gravel around, crushed granite rocks or river rocks are worthy alternatives.

See also: 20 DIY Projects with Bricks Plans You Can Make Today (with Pictures)

divider 1Conclusion

The best thing about a garden is you don’t ever have to stop perfecting it. And we’re not even talking about planting exotic flowers, adding a brand-new drainage system, or fixing the pathways. You don’t have to spend weeks on a project or empty your bank account to flip the garden around. Willingness to try new things and genuine love for recycling can make wonders happen.

The projects that we checked out today are just right for keeping the backyard nice and fresh. Sometimes, introducing bold new colors and experimenting with different designs leads to breath-taking discoveries. So, pick an idea/plan from the list, follow our guides closely, and get your creative juices flowing!

Featured Image Credit: JillWellington, Pixabay

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools