Having a tight budget, postage stamp yard or only apartment balconies requires clever use of limited space and budgets for growing food, herbs or flowers. But you don't need 40 acres or a ton of money to have an attractive and productive garden. All you really need is a new way of looking at things you probably already own or can get free for the asking in your neighborhood.
They are everywhere--and for good reason. Five-gallon buckets are about the handiest thing a gardener can have. Gather as many as you can free from fast-food restaurants or grocery store bakery and deli sections. Decorate and fill them with soil for deep planters you can move from place to place as needed. Use plastic paint to dress them up or give them a rustic look by wiring bamboo shades, small saplings or old pickets (from a fence) all the way around to disguise the fact they are buckets. Drill a few drainage holes in the bottom before planting anything.
Tires have long been used as raised bed planters. Warming quickly in the spring, retaining moisture and possessing the attribute of stackability, they are nearly perfect planters. But they are not particularly attractive, and there is some concern they may leach undesirable chemicals into the soil. Fix both problems relatively cheaply and easily. Line the inside with heavy plastic sheeting. to protect plants from any contaminants in the tires. Wrap the outside and top of the tires with a 1-inch layer of chicken wire, (to give cement something to hold onto) and cover the whole thing with wet cement to make a smooth shell all round and over the top. Add pebbles or mosaic tiles to the wet cement or just stain or paint it after the cement cures for a decorative effect. If you position several stacks of tires together before wrapping and cementing them, you can create longer beds and unusual shapes.
Make a distinctive statement and get a huge container with perfect drainage in one fell swoop by using a bathtub to hold plants. Clawfoot bathtubs make exceptional containers that can hold an entire salad garden of tomato, greens, cucumber and radishes. A bamboo stake teepee on one end is useful for training vines, and the tub has more than enough depth for root crops. Put a flat rock or thick tile under each leg before filling the tub with soil to keep the tub from sinking into the ground.
Another Man's Junk
One man's junk is a gardener's new pot. TipNut.com suggests using recycled mailboxes, baby carrieages, watering cans, wheelbarrows, teapots or even worn-out boots for containers. Filled "as is" with soil, or lined with plastic or cheap plastic pots, discarded items slated for the refuse pile often can be turned to good use in the garden---especially for impromptu display of annual flowers like pansies, marigolds or petunias. Some of the more whimsical containers may even make you (and visitors) smile.