With the right rented garden ideas, you can still make an outdoor space pleasant to use, even if you can’t make big changes. Renting your home doesn’t mean you can’t truly make it your own—you just have to be creative with how you do it. It’s easy to add a personal touch to your outdoor area without disturbing your landlord.
From potted plants to outdoor lighting, here are 10 backyard ideas to spruce up a tired-looking rented space into a place you’ll want to spend time this summer.
Rented garden ideas you can take with you if you move
1. Use potted plants to incorporate greenery
If your backyard lacks green space, potted plants are a particularly good option for urban gardens. This allows you to add flowers, texture and color to your outdoor space without having to dig anything up or if your backyard is completely concrete.
“Textile items are ideal for a rental property, such as pots and planters,” says Belderbos Landscapes (opens in new tab)Claire Belderbos. “Think about the size of your containers—bigger pots can bring drama and keep an area from looking cluttered.”
Henry Scott, director of landscape and garden designers Pehrsson Scott (opens in new tab), also recommends container gardening in your rented space. ‘Functional pots with specimen trees transform a small garden and can easily be moved by a moving company. They do a great job of transforming a garden cheaply and it’s something you can take with you wherever you want.’
2. Hang plants to add more dimension to your space
Hanging plants are a genius low maintenance garden idea to create depth in your backyard. They can draw your eye up to make you feel like you have a bigger and fuller space than you actually do. If you don’t have a lot of square footage to work with, going up is a great way to make the most of your space and incorporate more into your garden.
Depending on how much leeway you have from your landlord in terms of what you can do in your space, you may not want to drill into anything to hang your plants. Why not try fence post brackets instead? They can slide over or be hooked onto fence posts, so your plants can hang from a place that you can easily lift off on moving day. Alternatively, try hanging the basket from a tree branch if you have one – just make sure it’s strong enough to support the weight.
3. Get creative with colors
Color is an easy way to make your rented garden more inviting and personal to you. You can achieve this through flowers, plants and outdoor furniture to tailor a color scheme that best suits your taste. When it comes to how to start a flower garden, pots are a great place to start.
‘For instant summer color that won’t break the bank, some long-blooming perennials like Geranium, Perovskia, Rudbeckia and Gaura [are great options],’ says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes. ‘Bulbs are a cost-effective way to provide a variety of color throughout the spring and summer. Onions can be planted around existing shrubs and plants without disturbing what is already there.’
4. Furnish your backyard with free-standing and movable accessories
If you have a bigger budget and enough space, buy some outdoor furniture to create an attractive and comfortable area that you want to spend time in. Investing in some of the best outdoor furniture allows you to create a modern and trendy space where you can host family and friends.
‘Spend money wisely on things that can be taken away when you move home. Good quality garden furniture is always a good start and will help lift a room,’ says Henry, director of Pehrsson Scott.
If you already have outdoor furniture that is a little worse for wear, Claire at Belderbos Landscapes suggests sanding it back, varnishing it or even giving it a coat of paint. This way you can save money and still elevate your garden space.
5. Light up your backyard
Extend your hosting to the evening hours and invite your friends over to enjoy your beautiful new outdoor space by hanging lights.
“Lighting can extend the use of your garden and add atmosphere to your garden at night,” says Claire. ‘If you can’t install mains powered lighting, consider solar powered options. The technology for these has improved a lot recently. Other alternatives to the mains are lanterns and smaller table lights.’
Festoon lights suitable for outdoor use are also a good ideaArden lighting idea for your backyard that requires no permanent installation. Warm lights will add a magical and atmospheric feel to your garden that you can easily unplug and clean up anyway when it suits you.
6. Make your outdoor space wildlife-friendly
Gardening with wildlife can make your backyard that much more of a peaceful and comfortable space that doesn’t require any major or permanent renovations. “Consider taking part in No Mow May this year to create cover for wildlife and allow wildflowers to emerge,” says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes.
Automatic bird feeders are another way to make your garden even more attractive to wildlife. You can get freestanding options like bird tables or stakes that can dig into the ground, hang feeders from branches and even use window feeders that can be secured with suction cups.
7. Invest in an independent water feature
Water features elevate any outdoor space to make it feel more expensive, and they aren’t always a permanent fixture. “There are also some great off-the-shelf features that can make a real difference to any room and won’t be left behind when you move house,” says Henry Scott.
If you have an outdoor outlet, you can use a standalone water feature in most places in your garden by using an outdoor extension cord if the cable is not long enough to reach the desired location. Otherwise, there are solar-powered water features that are cable-free, using sunlight they take in through a panel to power the water flow.
“A water feature doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Claire Belderbos. There are several options for both mains and solar powered water features that do not need to be plugged in as they operate on an internal reservoir, reusing and recirculating the water. “A simple water bowl can even be used to welcome wildlife into your garden,” she adds.
8. Use these IKEA patio tiles for a temporary solution
IKEA’s removable decking is a brilliant way to make your backyard look more polished without having to splash out on more expensive – and permanent – landscaping. The floor terrace tiles are perfect for a small balcony garden idea, especially if you only have a balcony or terrace that you want to upgrade.
If you want to create a patio area on grass or cover concrete, these patio tiles can be easily clicked together to create a high quality finish to your outdoor space. They come in a range of colors and are even offered in artificial grass, so you can create a garden effect without the need to plant seeds. When it comes to moving day, you can easily pack them away to be used on your next property, and your landlord will be the wiser nonetheless.
9. Maintain your outdoor space
The benefits of keeping your backyard in good condition may be overlooked, but it’s a simple and cost-effective way to make your rental home more inviting. “Another important factor in rental properties is garden maintenance,” says Henry at Pehrsson Scott. ‘If the garden is well maintained and cared for, it will always have a positive influence on the feel and enjoyment of the space. Just because it might not be your property doesn’t mean you can’t spend time looking after it. Some landlords may even offer a rent reduction.’
As the warmer weather approaches, giving your outdoor space a clean-up will make a visible difference. ‘A pressure wash can remove the dirt and grime of winter and can give your paving or patio a refresh,’ says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes.
10. Spruce up your fence
In a rental property, you may not always be able to paint the fences, but there are still plenty of garden fence ideas that provide a temporary yet stylish fix. Why not try supporting a trellis with artificial plants or some decorative garden screens?
A simple and cheap option is to use garlands or strings of lights to decorate your fence. You can even try hanging fence planters with flowers or herbs inside, or go all out and use vertical fabric plant pockets that you can hang to create a green wall over your fence.
How do you use an apartment terrace?
Even if your rental property doesn’t have the largest outdoor space, there are still plenty of renter-friendly hacks for apartment patios or balconies. Why not try decorating your patio with an outdoor rug and seating? It can be as simple as a garden bench or a pair of wicker garden chairs, which you can decorate with soft furniture to create a comfortable and cozy area to spend time in the warmer evenings. You can even invest in an outdoor table and chairs set up to host a dinner party outdoors in the summer.
How do I renew my garden on a budget?
Plants are often a surprisingly expensive investment that doesn’t fit everyone’s budget. If you’re happy to put in a little extra work, you can definitely save a few pennies by using seed packets and even making your own potting soil to plant them. Upcycling your current garden furniture or buying used is not only cheaper, but also more sustainable alternatives.