Mum transforms tiny garden using ‘free pallets’ and bargain finds in ‘budget makeover’

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Rachel Fowles, 39 from Stockport told money-saving community how she transformed her tiny garden on a budget. The 39-year-old said she had the “smallest seating area” so she wanted to install a pergola to make the area feel more cosy. Rachel, who is a mother-of-one, said her garden had been given a mini facelift 10 years ago when her brother and partner added gravel, patio slabs, decking and wooden garden furniture.

However, at the beginning of lockdown in 2020, Rachel decided she needed more.


The nursing sister said she hates throwing items away so she decided to buy secondhand items from Facebook Marketplace and upcycle them.

She found her garden tables on the site for just £20, and despite being secondhand, they’ve lasted two months in the garden, even in the rain.

She said: “When I’m entertaining the two tables push together, and when I’m not they slot under the pallet furniture in such a way that the top forms a little side table.

“I couldn’t find any garden furniture that fitted this way and obviously I love a bargain so these were perfect.”

She bought the wood for her pergola from a local timber merchant for just £66, and the pallets for her furniture were sourced for free from a man who was throwing them away.

Rachel’s resourcefulness has potentially saved her hundreds of pounds.

The mum-of-one enlisted the help of her partner Tom to build the furniture and her brother Jay to build the pergola.

Tom used a YouTube DIY tutorial to turn the pallets into furniture.

He cut out some planks on the top pallet to slot the slating back pallets in.

The pergola has cut outs so they can slot together, screwed to the wall and floor with metal brackets.

“All in all the pallet furniture, pergola and decorations cost just under £250 and the project was completed over the space of a year or so,” she said.

“A right garden bargain if I do say so myself! I love coming out here when I can’t sleep. It’s so peaceful!”

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Hanging chairs and egg chairs have been particularly popular this year with various retailers bringing out their own versions of the popular look.

Rachel found that her space was too small for an egg chair so instead she went with a hanging chair.

Due to their popularity, a lot of hanging chairs can be pricey.

But to make it cheaper, Rachel recommended buying the hair and stand separately.

She said: “I found the chair itself on Amazon for £36.99 and the stand on eBay for £79.99, so all in all it was £116.98.

“This is about average pricing, it pays off to buy the chair and stand separately and shop for the best prices because I’ve seen sets going for as much as £250 online.”

Furnishings & accessories

The outdoor space includes lots of bright colours from cushions and lights.

But despite how expensive they look, Rachel managed to bag some bargains from a plethora of retailers.

Her flamingo cushions are from TK Maxx and cost her just £20.

The “welcome” cushion was just £6 and the floor cushions were £15 each from B&M.

The lanterns were £25 from Lights4Fun and the globe lights were £30 for three from eBay.

Rachel’s festoon lights were also from B&M and cost her just £15.

The chill sign was from Facebook Marketplace and cost her just £3 per letter and was made from artificial glass.

Rachel continued: “The green cushion on the hanging chair came from Home Bargains for £6, and the white seat pad cushions were gifted.

“The stop lights around the fence came from ASDA for £8 and the large bulb lights from eBay were 3 for £33.

“The pallet cushions came from eBay. They were pricey, but the cheapest I could find of a good quality came to £122 in total.

“I made the pink and grey cushions and I made the macramé lights using solar bulbs from B&M – they were three for £5.

“I learnt basic macramé knots off YouTube. I do need to redo them this year though as the lights have filled with water!”

Rachel also added a mirror wall and a decked wall.

The decking for the wall she managed to get for free as her brother was redoing a client’s decking and the boards were going to waste.

To finish off the look, Rachel bought little herb boxes, white herb trays and the large glass jars from Poundland.

The white herb trays were £3 each and the silver utensil caddies were from Poundstretcher for £1.99.

The solar lights were from Home Bargains for £5 and the ivy came from B&M for £1.99 each.

She bought fake plants as there’s not a lot of sun in her garden.

For her mirror wall, Rachel used indoor mirrors that are not designed for the garden.

However, she said her garden gets very little sun or birds in her garden as she lives in a built-up area.

She added: “I spent £45 on this feature and it made a huge difference. I love it, especially at night!”

She bought the mirrors in B&M for £6.99 each, the lights above the mirror for £1 each and the lights at the bottom cost her £10 for a pack of four.

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