Rented garden ideas – 10 temporary ways to make your backyard your own

Make your mark on your outdoor space with our expert guide to rented garden ideas

Garden deck with rug and potted plants
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With the right rented garden ideas, you can still make an outdoor space enjoyable 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 need to get creative with how you go about it. It’s easy to add personal touches to your outdoor space without upsetting your landlord. 

From potted plants to outdoor lighting, here’s 10 backyard ideas to spruce up a tired-looking rented space into somewhere you’ll want to spend time this summer. 

Rented garden ideas you can take with you if you move house 

1. Use potted plants to incorporate greenery

Colored potted plants on stands

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If your backyard lacks green space, potted plants are a particularly good option for urban gardens. This will allow you to add flowers, texture and color to your outdoor area without needing to dig anything up, or if your backyard space is completely concrete. 

'Moveable items are ideal for a rented property, such as feature pots and planters,' says Belderbos Landscapes' Claire Belderbos. 'Consider the size of your containers – larger pots can bring drama and stop an area from looking cluttered.'

Henry Scott, director of landscape and garden designers Pehrsson Scott, also recommends container gardening in your rented space. 'Feature pots with specimen trees will transform a small garden and can be easily moved by a removal company. They do a great job at 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

Potted plants hanging from tree in a rented garden

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Hanging plants are a brilliant low maintenance garden idea to create depth in your backyard. They can draw your eye up to make you feel as though you have a bigger, fuller space than you actually do. If you don’t have much 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 might not want to drill into anything to hang your plants. Instead, why not try fence post brackets? They can slide over or hook onto fence posts to allow somewhere for your plants to hang from, which you can easily lift off on moving day. Alternatively, you can try hanging the basket from a tree branch if you have one – just make sure it's strong enough to hold the weight. 

3. Get creative with color

Colorful flowers in a garden

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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 best suited to your taste. When it comes to how to start a flower garden, pots are a great place to begin. 

'For instant colour for the summer that will not break the bank, some long flowering perennials such as Geranium, Perovskia, Rudbeckia and Gaura [are great options],' says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes. 'Bulbs are a cost effective way to provide succession of colour through the spring and summer. Bulbs can be planted around existing shrubs and plants without disrupting what is already there.'

4. Furnish your backyard with freestanding and moveable accessories

Outdoor seating patio with potted plants

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If you’ve got a bigger budget and enough space, purchase some outdoor furniture to create an attractive and comfortable area you’ll want to spend time in. Investing in some of the best outdoor furniture will allow you to create a modern and trendy space where you can host family and friends.

'Spend money wisely on things which can be taken away when you move house. Good quality garden furniture is always a great start and will help lift a space,' says Henry, director of Pehrsson Scott.

If you already have outdoor furniture that's a bit worse for wear, Claire at Belderbos Landscapes suggests sanding it back, revarnishing it or even giving it a lick of paint. This way you can save on money and still elevate your garden space.  

5. Light up your backyard

Small patio with low coffee table and festoon lights

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Extend your hosting to the evening hours and invite your friends over to enjoy your beautiful new outdoor space by hanging up 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 mains powered lighting are lanterns and smaller table candles.'

Festoon lights suitable for outdoor use are also a great garden lighting idea for your backyard that doesn’t require any permanent installation. Warm lights will add a magical and atmospheric feel to your garden, which you can easily unplug and tidy anyway whenever it suits you. 

6. Make your outdoor space wildlife friendly

Bee on osteospermum flower

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Wildlife gardening can make your backyard that much more of a peaceful and enjoyable space which won'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 appear,' says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes. 

Bird feeders are another way to make your garden even more attractive to wildlife. You can get freestanding options like bird tables or poles that can dig into the ground, hang feeders from branches and even use window feeders that can be secured using suction cups. 

7. Invest in a self-contained water feature 

a corten water bowl in a garden

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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 water features which can make a real difference to any space and won't be left behind when you move home,' says Henry Scott.

If you have an outdoor electrical outlet, you can use a self-contained water feature in most places in your garden by using an outdoor extension lead if the cable isn't long enough to reach the desired spot. Otherwise, there are solar powered water features are that free from cables, 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 powered and solar powered water features that don't need to be plumbed 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 fix

IKEA RUNNEN patio tiles on a balcony

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The IKEA removable floor decking is a brilliant way to make your back garden look more polished without needing to splash out on more expensive – and permanent – landscaping. The floor decking tiles are perfect for a small balcony garden idea, particularly 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 up concrete, these patio tiles can easily be clicked together to create a high quality finish for your outdoor space. They’re available in a range of colors and even offered in artificial grass for you to create a garden effect without the need for planting seeds. When it comes to moving day, you can easily pack them away to be used at your next property and your landlord will be none the wiser.

9. Maintain your outdoor space

Mediterranean garden makeover inspiration

(Image credit: Claire Wainwright)

The benefits of keeping your backyard in good condition might be overlooked, but it's a simple and cost-effective way to make your rented home more inviting. 'Another important factor in rental properties is the garden maintenance,' says Henry at Pehrsson Scott. 'If the garden is well maintained and looked after, this will always have a positive impact on the feel and enjoyment of the space. Just because it may not be your property doesn’t mean you can't spend time looking after it. Some landlords may even offer a rent reduction.'

When the warmer weather is approaching, giving your outdoor space a clean-up will make a visible difference. 'A pressure jet-wash can clear away the winter dirt and debris and can give your paving or decking a refresh,' says Claire at Belderbos Landscapes.

10. Spruce up your fence

Fence planters

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In a rental home, you might not always be able to paint the fences, but there are still plenty of garden fencing ideas that provide a temporary yet stylish fix. Why not try propping up a trellis with artificial plants, or some decorative garden screens? 

A simple and inexpensive option is to use garlands or string lights to decorate your fence. You can even try hanging fence planters with flowers or herbs inside, or go all out and use fabric vertical planting pockets that you can hang to create a wall of greenery over your fence. 

How do you use an apartment patio?

Even if your rental property doesn't have the greatest outdoor space, there's still plenty of renter-friendly hacks for apartment patios or balconies. Why not try decorating your patio space with an outdoor rug and seating? It can be as simple as a garden bench or a pair of wicker garden chairs that you can dress up with soft furnishings to create a comfortable and cozy area to spend time in during the warmer evenings. You could even invest in an outdoor table and chairs set to host a dinner party al fresco in the summer. 

How do I revamp my garden on a budget?

Plants are often a surprisingly expensive investment that don't suit everyone's budget. If you're happy to put in a bit of extra work, using seed packets and even making your own potting soil to plant them can certainly save a few pennies. Upcycling your current garden furniture or buying second-hand are not only cheaper, but more sustainable alternatives, too.

Georgina Crothers is a trainee lifestyle journalist currently studying MA Magazine Journalism at City University of London, having written for Tesco Magazine and Crime Monthly. Aspiring to write home and interiors content once her degree is finished, and as a novice DIYer, you’ll often find her bingeing home renovation and furniture flipping TikToks, searching YouTube for the perfect DIY tutorial to revamp her own living space