Before & After: A Budget Garden Makeover

Since moving back to our rented home we've been slowly rebuilding the gardens around the house. Working with what we have and focusing on the growing-not-mowing philosophy, we turned the space near our front door in to a useable garden space for less than $20.

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Until recently the space was only used to access the hot water system. Among other things the trees provided shade and privacy, so for those and countless other reasons we wanted to keep them and design a functioning, useable garden space around the established features.

To build the garden we:

  • Spaced out the garden areas with bricks
  • Cleared the weeds from the garden spaces
  • Added compost soil and potting mix
  • Spaced out the plants
  • Re-planted and seeded
  • Added rocks from the local area
  • Built the screen/trellis to cover the water heater and support the plants
  • Weeded the path and covered with mulch

The bricks proved to be the perfect garden edges because they were so easy to move and we could create the curved beds that allowed us to work with and around the trees.

We needed to keep the space around the water heaters clear so the garden bed edge is actually about 15cm from the end of the overflow pipe and the screen is actually in the garden bed. Similarly, the ground cover doesn't reach as high as the raised platform that the water heater sits on.

The cost breakdown:

  • EDGING: $0.00 The bricks have been used around the house for so many different purposes through the years so we just continued the trend and used those!
  • SOIL: $0.00 The bulk of soil came from the compost heap out the back and it was perfect for establishing a new garden.
  • POTTING MIX: $13.00 Because we knew we would be seeding and replanting we added potting mix to the gardens.
  • PLANTS: $0.00 We bought most of the plants with us in our coffee bag planter pots. They were in the bags for about 5-6 weeks and we only lost two plants (the egg plant and the lavender) after they were transplanted. We have also planted some seeds which we had been saving.
  • SCREEN: $0.00 I used wood left over from local renovations to build the screen that covers the water heater.
  • MULCH: $6.50 We used a sugar cane mulch ground cover to reduce the weeds, retain water in the area and encourage insect activity but obviously this wouldn't work for everyone.

(images: Sarah Starkey)

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