Small garden ideas on a budget

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If your budget is as tiny as your garden, you can still create an attractive space for growing flowers, vegetables and even a dwarf fruit tree or two. With a minimal investment in a bit of compost, a shovel and a few seeds or plants, you can make one or more attractive beds in your small garden that will support the plants you want to grow.

Maximise your space

Small gardens lend themselves well to growing many plants vertically. With a small investment in lattice fence panels or wooden stakes, you can train your cucumbers, perhaps a grape vine, a blooming clematis, wisteria or thunbergia to grow vertically instead of sprawling on the ground and taking up unnecessary space. You can save even more money if you plant vines against an existing fence or unattractive building such as a garden shed. Plant your vine 15 to 20 cm from the structure and then drive nails into the wood every 30 cm, tie string to them and use the string to secure your plants.

Begin with seeds

You needn't to be nervous about starting your small-space garden from seeds. You'll find far more variety when you browse through seed catalogues than when you shop for plants at your garden centre, and seeds cost a fraction of what plants cost. If you own a few old flowerpots, whether they're plastic or terracotta, you can use them to start your seeds. Purchase a good quality potting soil -- you won't need much -- and fill your pots with it. Plant seeds according to packet instructions and then keep your pots in a sunny area where they will be protected from frost. Keep the potting soil moist and then transplant your young plants to the garden when they are about 10 to 15 cm tall, depending on the type of plant.

A little compost goes a long way

You can easily make your own nutritious compost by creating a pile using lawn cuttings, chopped-up plant parts, kitchen waste and other organic materials. If you start your pile in autumn, by spring you will have a good amount of free fertiliser that you can mix into your soil before you plant your garden. If you choose not to make your own compost, you can purchase a large bag of this organic soil at a garden centre for very little money. Only one bag of compost will cover a planting area about 1 by 2 square metres in size: after you mix it in, you'll have a garden bed that will support almost any plant you choose to grow.

Save money on water

When you choose plants that are drought-tolerant, as are many native varieties, your water bill will remain in check, even during the hottest summer weather. Many drought-resistant plants have pale grey-green foliage and some have attractive flowers. Instead of wasting water by spraying it all over your garden, purchase an inexpensive soaker hose and run it like a snake through your planted area. The water will seep slowly from its pores and water just the area where it lies without watering your drive, paths or unplanted areas where weeds will grow if they receive water.

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