No Money? Create Your Balcony Garden on a Budget

Balcony garden on a budget

You’re dreaming of having a wonderful balcony garden, but your budget is low?
I can’t blame you. When you can step out on your balcony and enjoy flowers, herbs, and even vegetables, it’s a wonderful feeling.
But yes, it can be a costly affair to set up. You’ll need plants, pots, ways to water your plants, and sometimes more.
Thankfully, there are ways to obtain what you want.
As with everything, it has a price, of course. Free or cheap is never fully free or cheap.
In this case, the price is low, and you may even find that being on a budget will improve your balcony garden in many ways.
Let’s dive in.

Free or Cheap Plants

What would a balcony garden be without plants? A plain balcony.
Plants can be expensive, though. The more exotic or rare, the more expensive.
There are two ways you can save a lot of money.
You can use seeds instead of plants. And you can get seeds, seedlings, or plants from friends and fellow gardeners.

Use Seeds Instead of Plants

Seeds are a lot cheaper than buying plants. That is because it takes time, sometimes a year, to turn a seed into a plant.
When a plant nursery does this work for you, they charge for it, naturally. They have wages to pay and huge areas of greenhouses to take care of.
Also, not every seed becomes a plant. Some seed will rot in the ground, and some will simply never sprout.
However, the price of seed is low, so you don’t have much to lose here.
Check on the bag how you are supposed to saw them and at what time of the year it’s best.
Grow your seeds in healthy soil. Buy it from garden nurseries. Here’s a place where you shouldn’t save. Garden soil will not work for a balcony garden. The soil is too dense, it will contain weed seeds and roots, and it can even contain pests or mold. Things that will make your plants sick or kill them.
Make sure to remove weed from your pots or containers while your seeds grow. And be ready to wait for the result.
This kind of gardening takes time. It’s worth the patience, because later you’ll have a garden you can be extremely proud about because you grew it from scratch.

Get Seeds and Seedlings from Friends

Another option is to get seeds or seedlings from friends and fellow gardeners. You can even trade them. You may have bought strawberries and kept a couple to dry, and now you have strawberry seeds.
Your friend may have seeds from his dill plants.
You trade some of your seeds against some of his, and you’re both happy.
Some plants will create offspring that you can cut lose, put in water, and let sprout roots. Those are easy to share with friends.
Or maybe you’re really good at caring for plants, and your friend has plants that aren’t doing too well in his balcony garden. You can agree to take them over and keep half of them. Then nurse them back in shape and give him half of them back. You’re both winners by using this system.
There’s still the matter of pots and watering. Here’s how you can get those in place on a budget.

Do-It-Yourself Systems

With do-it-yourself systems, you may have to forget about the ultra-cool look of your balcony.
This is the price for saving a lot of money. You will gain a working balcony garden, though, and the satisfaction of having built it yourself.


Pots can be expensive. Especially so if you go for self-watering containers and pretty pots.
If all you want is the plants, then there are ways around buying the pots. At least for full price.
You can use all kinds of containers, like:

  • Used coffee cans
  • Egg trays (for seeds)
  • Terracotta pots with shards or other flaws

If you use coffee cans, you need to drill holes at the bottom. And you can paint them on the outside to look better. Make sure to use waterproof paint.

Raised Beds

Containers for raised beds can be expensive, but you can make them yourself.
Depending on the size of your balcony, you can build them out of planks, small tires, or cinder blocks.
If you’re not by nature a DIY person, there are plenty of articles and YouTube videos that show you how to build those raised beds yourself.

Irrigation Systems

The cheapest option for watering your plants is a water can. But if you have a sizeable balcony garden, or if you plan to go away on vacation, this may not suffice.
You can make your own self-watering pots by filling a used plastic soda bottle with water and sticking it into the ground with its open end first.
Or you can have water standing in a container on your balcony and dip a wick or piece of cloth into the water and put the other end into the soil.
With both of these methods, you have some fine DIY self-watering pots.
For more complex gardens, you can build a full irrigation system with tubes and a drip system. This takes more DIY skills, but it’s doable.
You’ll find several videos on YouTube that will show you how to build the system. Just by searching “making your own drip irrigation system balcony garden” there are several to choose from.
Use the one you’ll find easiest or cheapest depending on which materials you have access to.

Have Your Balcony Garden and Eat Your Vegetables Too

Now you know that it’s possible to create a balcony garden on a budget.
It can be free except for the cost of the pot soil. That’s the only place you don’t want to skimp because that would backfire.
Everything else can be free, ranging from the seeds, the seedlings, the plants, the pots, and even the raised bed containers.

Haven Greensprout

I've found my passion in balcony gardening, relishing the simplicity and joy it brings to my urban life. The thrill of harvesting my own veggies has transformed my balcony into a lush oasis, proving there's unmatched delight in homegrown goodness.

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