Every spring the sun peeks out from behind a cloud for just a few minutes and British flock to garden centres clutching credit cards and grand plans. We love our gardens and it’s no wonder – as inconvenient as the unpredictable English weather is, it’s ideal for glorious English cottage gardens and a good summer in the UK is ideal for alfresco dining and evenings around the fire pit. Being that we don’t get a lot of warm weather, it makes perfect sense that we make the most of it when it comes around. However, we are not all blessed with large gardens and sometimes that can even be an advantage because they can be extremely expensive to style and maintain. Plus, it’s not too hard to restyle your patio garden.
Plants, planters and garden furniture can be costly. The more hardwearing garden furniture is, the more it costs and the less expensive options don’t always fare too well in the elements.
Those of us who have smaller patio gardens are usually also not blessed with much storage, inside or out, either. Hence, we can’t be storing all those throw cushions, rugs, garden-only tableware and trinkets that are so often pictured on patio garden Pinterest boards. This leads you to look for more affordable ways to restyle your patio garden. The problem is, due to upcycling and shabby-chic trends, items once found in thrift stores and boot sales have become luxury items with huge potential, which comes with a larger price tag. As Dolly Parton once said – ‘it costs a lot of money to look this cheap’.
Never fear though – it is still possible for your small patio garden to be transformed into a magical suntrap space that doesn’t cost the earth. Plus, we’ll also look at affordable ways to restyle your patio garden for entertaining friends and family.
Restyle Your Patio Garden Furniture
It’s perfectly possible to entertain in a small patio garden. After all, most of us don’t have dining spaces much bigger than a patio. You will though, have to have some patio garden furniture and this can be expensive.
Now, this is the one area where I will emphasise a correlation between quality and cost. More expensive garden seating is usually (not always, but usually) better built to stand outdoor weather conditions. Untreated or aged wood is likely to rot in the rain, metal will rust and plastic – well, plastic furniture is usually ugly, isn’t it?
Rattan furniture is very popular as it’s light, attractive and resilient. However, it is bulky and so can take up too much space in a smaller garden. Additionally, it is not cheap although you may be lucky enough to pick up a second-hand set on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
Metal table and chair sets are often the most petite and they are easier to find second-hand. Yes, they can look a little shabby but they are easily transformed with some metal spray paint. Metal table and chair sets look fantastic in bright colours so why not go tropical with a flamingo pink or sunny with a bright yellow? Don’t forget to treat your metal garden furniture with paste wax or even ever-trusty WD-40.
Be Bold, Be Strong, Be Colourful
It’s not traditional to add a lot of colour to a garden as it’s preferred for the flowers to bring the vibrancy. However, in a patio garden, we aren’t always so blessed to have such a wide array of plants and a yellow or red flower amongst a mass of green leave can struggle to be seen. Adding colour to your garden in other places can actually help to bring out the colour in the flowers you do have.
As above, painting garden furniture can bring personal style into your garden or even help to theme it. If you live near the sea, for instance, you might prefer a blue and white nautical-style garden, or you may opt for a Hawaiian theme if you’re styling a summer entertaining space.
You can paint fences, walls, ceramics and benches. What you want to avoid though, when painting outside, is too much of one colour. If you’re wanting to add some orange to your patio, for instance, don’t cover all the walls in the same paint. Instead, perhaps paint the furniture and a trellis orange, or else your pots and maybe just one wall. In a small area, splashes of colour will enhance what you have but too much of one tone will swallow up the space.
If you’re really creative then you could even paint your own rug on a concrete patio floor.
Upcycled Quirky Features
You need extra touches and furnishings to add character, of course. Yet, who can be doing with laying everything out every slightly sunny day and then bringing it all back in and putting it away every night? Apart from the fact that, once again, we have to find somewhere to store it all. This is the case for so many of the furnishing ideas for gardens but it’s simply not practical for many of us. We prefer things that you can leave outside to face the weather. Preferably inexpensive things that are replaceable if damaged in the wind or by rain.
Look out for charity shop items that have little use but catch your eye and think twice about throwing away broken items too. Such objects can make ideal planters. Especially for annual flowers that are only in need of a home for their relatively short lifecycle. Teacups, old pots, coffee jars, wellington boots, tires, kitchenware and buckets make great plant pots and give that ‘accidental garden’ aesthetic that a lot of people pay good money to achieve. We recommend growing from seed in these containers because it costs far less and, because planting in untraditional plant pots does not guarantee a 100% success rate, you won’t have lost much if it doesn’t work out every time. Hey, you could even use the empty paint pot after you’ve painted your lime green feature wall!
Vertical Garden Ideas For Small Patio Spaces
When you don’t have a lot of floor space it makes sense to make the most of the vertical. When we think of planting we usually think of flowerbeds, but in truth, the sky’s the limit.
Planting upwards is very possible with climbing plants and trellis and can create colour skyward too which means more to see at eye-level when you’re enjoying Pimms on the patio with friends.
However, encouraging a climbing plant up a trellis can take time. So, for fairly instant greenery up your wall, try vertical planters. There are all sorts of options, from more costly ladder designs to hanging pocket planting bags that can be used a create a living wall look and are ideal for herbs too.
Herbs, in fact, should definitely be considered when you restyle your patio garden because their full fragrance can be more appreciated in a smaller space. Making for a beautiful and sensory space.