21 Cheap Landscaping Ideas for Design on a Budget - Happy DIY Home (2024)

Did you know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to spruce up your front door or landscape to boost your home’s curb appeal? There are dozens of cheap landscaping ideas that you can incorporate into your own yard that can give you an expensive look while being budget-friendly. You can even skip calling in a professional landscaper for many of these cheap landscaping ideas, and you can DIY it in an afternoon or two, depending on how handy you are.

To help inspire you, we’ve put together a list of several cheap landscaping ideas for all skill levels. So, grab your tools, go outside, and plan your new additions. By the end, we’re betting that there will be at least one cheap landscaping idea that you want to try around your garden.


1. Lay Down Some Mulch

Mulch can be the perfect cheap landscape idea when you’re looking for something versatile to add as a textured and colorful groundcover. It works well along walkways and in flower beds to help keep the weeds from popping up almost as soon as you get rid of them. Mulch is also great for locking moisture into the soil for your plants, and organic mulches offer nutrient boosts for the soil. So, it can help your plants grow while adding visual interest to the area.

Since this is a cheap landscaping idea, it makes sense that you can get free mulch using grass clippings, wood chips, compost, leaves, straw, or pine needles. If you can’t find any of these things, you can buy enough mulch to cover around 500-square feet for $100 to $300. On average, most people spend $175. If you have a smaller area, this price will drop.

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Mulch by Jonathan Lidbeck / CC BY 2.0

2. Plant Perennials

Although this cheap landscaping idea can have a slightly pricier tag upfront when you first buy your plants, they’ll pay for themselves during the second year when they come up on their own. This saves you both money and time since you won’t have to go out each year and purchase your plants before planting them in your yard. What’s more, there’s also full sun to full shade perennials around that are relatively easy to grow.

Common perennials that you can incorporate into your cheap landscaping ideas include hostas, asters, tulips, lavender, hydrangeas, and coneflowers. You can easily expect to spend between $5.00 and $30.00 per plant, depending on the size and species. However, you won’t have to go back out next year and do it all over again, and they can add bright color to your landscape.

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Perennials by clare_and_ben / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

3. Add a Tree Sapling

Although adding a tree sapling can be a cheap landscaping idea, it can easily boost your home’s curb appeal when it comes time to sell. Strategically placed saplings can grow into a giant tree that can shade your home and help reduce your energy costs. A deciduous sapling could add enough shade over the home to stop you from using the air conditioner in the summer, and evergreens can block harsh winter winds.

How much of a cheap landscaping idea this is depends on the type of tree you buy and how large it is. Smaller trees can cost as low as $0.50 to $1.50 a sapling. A small or medium-sized tree can cost between $100 and $200 a tree, and even larger trees can cost thousands. So, you want to go smaller and have patience. Small trees will eventually help fill in your landscape with minimal costs once they establish themselves.

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Sapling by Jared Cherun / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

4. Upcycle Items for Planters

Planters can be expensive, especially when you get into the bigger designs. So, you can offset this by upcycling and repurposing items like that old barrel, piano, tub, or wheelbarrow into a fun and whimsical planter. This can help reduce your costs, and it’ll give you a solid frame to build your new planter on. It’s a great DIY project for beginners because all you have to do is buy or build a flower box to slip inside of your upcycled item to protect it from water and dirt.

If you pick out a metal object to upcycle like a wheelbarrow or tub, you can create a larger cheap landscaping idea that turns into the focal point of your yard. Say you decide to build a flower bed inside of your upcycled item, if so, the cost of this project ranges from $10.00 to $30.00 per plant. You get bonus points if you split some of your larger plants and put them in this display.

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Watering can planter by mara / CC BY-ND 2.0

5. Hang Window Boxes

Do your front windows look a little bare and tired? If so, this cheap landscaping idea can help fill them in for you. If you install window boxes, they’ll add an instant charm and color to your front yard. They also cover up common wear and tear around the bottom of your windows. If you look at them from the inside, you can see your favorite flowers whenever you like too.

If you’ve got screws, wood lumber, and brackets laying around, this cheap landscaping idea is a great DIY opportunity. If you don’t, you can usually buy an eight-foot piece of lumber for $5.00 to $20.00 to build one with. Generally speaking, these window boxes cost between $10.00 and $30.00 each. This brings your total for this project between $15.00 and $100, depending on the quality and style you’re going for with your window boxes.

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Window box perfection by Rachel Kramer / CC BY 2.0

6. Create Raised Garden Beds

Raising up your garden or flower beds can help keep weeds away. It also gives you excellent drainage for all of your plants, and raised garden beds prevents soil compaction. They can protect your plants from pets or other pests that would normally damage them. As a bonus, these raised garden beds add dimension and height to your landscape, and they work well in small or large spaces. You can make it out of several materials, including brick, cinder blocks, or wood.

You will have to line the interior of your raised garden beds with a protective barrier to prevent water and fertilizer from damaging the bed’s frame though. This could be anything from landscape fabric to plastic. Fill it with potting soil and add your plants. They’ll eventually grow up over the lip of the box, and they can even drape down if you plant vining vegetables or plants.

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Boxes Laid Out and Full by BrotherMagneto / CC BY-NC 2.0

7. Brighten up Your Mailbox

The mailbox is usually one area that most people don’t pay a lot of attention to when they’re considering cheap landscaping ideas. However, a little TLC here can really brighten up the entire look of your home. For this project, all you’ll need is a small trellis if you want climbing plants, some mulch, and a shovel. Start by turning up the first few inches of dirt around your mailbox. You can amend it if you believe that it’s not correct for plant life.

Plant your flowers all around your mailbox post, and you can go right up to the post if you like. Spread out a layer of mulch for a nice touch and to block weeds. If you have climbing vines or plants, you can buy or make a small trellis and set it up against the mailbox pole to encourage them to climb up. This cheap landscape project will cost between $10.00 and $30.00 for the plants and whether or not you buy a trellis.

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Mailbox somewhere in Oregon by JMacPherson / CC BY 2.0

8. Edge Your Walkways, Flower Beds, and Trees

Incorporating garden edging isn’t new, but it’s a cheap landscape idea that can help bring order to your yard and ensure everything looks neat. No matter if your mulch is migrating out of your garden beds all over the lawn or your trees look a little forgotten, edging can help fix it. Popular edging materials include but are not limited to logs, metal, brick, wood, concrete, stone, or even recyclable items. You can hire a professional to do this job, but it’s just as easy to do it yourself.

You can get a lawn edger for this project and your chosen materials. Clearly mark the areas of your flower beds or trees or whatever you want to define. Once you have a neat edge, go back and fill it in with your chosen materials. The outer line of the edge acts like a wall to keep things contained. This project can cost between $70.00 and $1,700, depending on whether or not you hire a professional.

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New garden in progress by Jenni Konrad / CC BY-NC 2.0

9. Add a Rock Garden

A rock garden is also called an alpine garden or a rockery, and it’s a cheap landscaping idea for those that live in arid and dry climates. It accentuates various pebbles, boulders, and landscape stones. They can help add diversity to your yard and create a sharp contrast with the natural greenery of the space. They’re also drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, so they won’t require a lot of care on your part to look fabulous all season long.

If you don’t want to go out and purchase landscape rocks because this can easily run from $600 to $1,000, consider asking a local farmer or construction worker if they have any they’re going to get rid of. Larger boulders are typically a nuisance in farms or construction sites, so they could be happy to give them to you. This can help keep this cheap landscaping idea on the lower end of your budget.

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Purdue Horticulture Gardens 07-28-2017 3 by David Ellis / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

10. Grow an Edible Garden

Growing an edible garden is a cheap landscaping idea because it can take up a lot of space while providing you with food all season long. There are easy vegetables to grow that can thrive in the sun or shade, so your garden’s location won’t matter as much. This will take both energy and time to start and maintain, but you can easily can your harvest to make it last longer if you can’t eat it all in one go.

This is a cheap landscaping idea because you can grab your seeds for around $2.00 a pack. How much it costs to establish your garden depends on the size, whether you want traditional or raised beds, whether you want to have a fence to keep pests out, and the type of vegetables you grow. You will have to pay out to establish your garden, but this will quickly start to pay for itself when you start harvesting your fruits and vegetables.

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Garden by strandkorbtraum / CC BY-SA 2.0

11. Install and Above-Ground Pool

Anyone who has kids and lives in an area where it gets hot can use this cheap landscaping idea to take up a little yard space and give your kids a place to play in the summer months. You will have to pay out for this one, but it won’t cost nearly as much as an in-ground pool. Also, you can get smaller kiddie pools that are set up in an afternoon for the little kids to play in.

Depending on the quality and your budget, you could pay anywhere from $100 up to $4,000. If you maintain this pool properly, it can easily last up to 15-years. This is more than enough time for it to pay for itself and give the kids an area to play for a few summers. If you get a big enough pool, the adults can take a dip and cool off during the scorching summer temperatures.

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Above Ground Pool by Benny Lin / CC BY-NC 2.0

12. Hang a Vertical Garden

Maybe you want a garden but you’re short on cash and space for a traditional garden. If so, this cheap landscaping idea is for you. It is a smaller garden design, but it’s a very creative and fun DIY project that will get you fresh veggies during the growing season. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and onions do well. Also, you can plant ferns, succulents, and hosts in these gardens and have them do very well. You will need to clear out space to hang your hanging garden though.

This cheap landscaping idea’s price tag will vary depending on whether or not you have supplies lying around, the design, the vegetables you pick out, and your DIY skills. You could even upcycle an old pallet and use it to create your garden. Seeds are cheap, especially if you just buy the seeds instead of young plants. Expect to spend between $20.00 and $200 for this project.

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Vertical garden by petrOlly / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

13. Light up Your Landscape

Your landscape can shine during the day, but incorporating this cheap landscape idea allows you to enjoy your space well after dusk. A simple string of outdoor lights can provide enough illumination for you to walk around your garden or yard at night without fear of tripping, and they’re usually inexpensive to run. You could also add solar lights along pathways, garden beds, or by your flowers to light up the ground.

Outdoor-style string lights will generally cost between $15.00 and $50.00, depending on how large the area is you want to light up. If you go to the store during seasonal sale time, you can save even more with this cheap landscaping idea as most lights will be huge percentages off at this point. The local dollar store is another option, but keep in mind that you’ll replace them more due to them wearing out.

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Faeries, Sprites, and Lights…. By Jerry / CC BY 2.0

14. Add a Walkway

Pavers or stepping stones make excellent flooring options to help you create a brand new walkway or restore an old one. This walkway can draw the eyes around your landscape, and this cheap landscape idea invites your visitors to do a little exploring when they’re out and about. They can prevent people from walking on your grass while providing a sense of direction from one end of your yard to the other. You can use a huge range of materials to customize it too.

Once you get your walkway in place, you can add soft moss or plants along the sides of it to enhance it further. This cheap landscaping idea allows you creative control over how long and wide your walkway is, so it can perfectly fit your space. Stepping stones or pavers usually cost between $1.00 and $15.00 each, and you can purchase them at garden centers or in your local home improvement store. Remember, the bigger your walkway is, the higher your price will be unless you have the materials on-hand.

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Garden path by kendiala / CC BY-NC 2.0

15. Create a Whimsical Seating Area

Adding a simple park bench is a cheap landscaping idea that allows you to transform your yard into a space for quiet moments and reflective thought. You can enjoy an afternoon visit with a friend on it, or you can sit and take in the beauty of your yard. Also, it’s easy to show your personality by surrounding it with flower pots, stepping stones, or your favorite indoor/outdoor pillows. For large yards, it can be a welcome spot to rest and relax on the way back to the house.

This is one cheap landscape idea that can fluctuate in costs. If you choose to build the bench by yourself, this will save you money. You can do so with a few old pallets and cinder blocks. If you choose to buy a bench, this project will generally run between $100 and $200, depending on which bench you pick out.

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Garden Bench by Renee Grayson / CC BY 2.0

16. Invite Birds with a Birdbath

A birdbath is a fun way to create a simple but effective focal point in your yard while inviting birds to come in. Also, it’s relatively easy for a birdbath to double as a garden fountain if you have a little time without increasing the price of this cheap landscaping project by much. If you choose to buy a birdbath, it only takes a few minutes to get it set up and running when you pick out a spot for it.

Try to find a space in your yard where there isn’t a huge amount of traffic to disturb any birds that come in to rinse their feathers. You may have to weigh down the base of the birdbath to keep it steady, but you can easily accomplish this with a few pavers or landscape rocks. Make sure you periodically rinse out the water and add new to keep it clean. If you plan to buy, you’ll spend between $30.00 and $50.00 a birdbath.

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After the bath by Andrea OConnell / CC BY 2.0

17. Create a Planter Out of a Tree Stump

No matter if your tree was felled in a recent storm or it was chopped down on purpose, this cheap landscape idea allows you to repurpose the stump that is left to save you from removing it. You can turn it into a planter that looks very natural and rustic with a few flowers, some potting soil, water, and the right growing conditions. Depending on where the stump is, you’ll need shade or sun annuals.

It’s easy to get a jigsaw and hollow out the center of the stump if rot hasn’t already set it. This creates the perfect natural planter. Fill the hole with soil and plant your favorite flowers inside. If you get vines, you can have them trailing right down the side to the ground, and you can plant flowers along the base of the stump to continue your look. Almost any stump works for this project, and it’ll only cost you the flower prices at $5.00 to $30.00 each.

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Future planter by Adam Levine / CC0 1.0

18. Create a Garden Fountain

You don’t have to spend thousands to get a drool-worthy garden fountain to put all of your water garden plants in. Instead, this cheap landscaping idea suggests taking things you already have lying around like stones and old planters to make your own garden fountain. As a bonus, you’ll get the tranquil sound of running water in your backyard that can help you relax and unwind, and the fountain can be as big or as small as you need to fit your space.

You can create this cheap landscaping idea by getting two pots with one being larger than the other, cinder blocks, smaller stones, vinyl tubing, and submersible pump. Level the ground and set the larger pot down. Add the pump to one side and create a stack of cinder blocks in the middle for the second pot to sit on. Run the pump’s tubing up through the smaller pot, secure it in place with rocks, and backfill the biggest pot with smaller stones. Add water and switch it on.

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New Fountain 1 by anoldent / CC BY-SA 2.0

19. Divide Large Perennials

Dividing your clump-forming perennials like Asters and Chrysanthemums is a cheap landscaping idea that allows you to get additional plants without spending any more money. This also prevents issues with tightly-clustered plants like pest infestations, stunted growth, and fungal diseases. You will have to dig your existing plants up for this to happen, but you can do so without harming the plant.

Once you dig a clump up for this cheap landscaping project, separate the crowns where the roots and stems meet to prevent injuring the plants. Replant the split divisions in whichever space you pick out. It’s best to do this between spring or fall when the plant isn’t flowering. This will give it time to establish itself without having issues.

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Aster by Carnat Joel / CC BY 2.0

20. Add Borders

This cheap landscaping idea on the list involves creating borders for all of your flower beds. This is especially important if you have something that likes to take over the area like bamboo or mint because it can prevent them from spreading and choking out any other plants around it. You can buy or build this border. If you have a flexible grape vine, you can easily weave it along the edges of your flower beds or walkways to enhance their look.

Another option is to add river rocks along the edge, or you could add mulch in a neat area. However, this does tend to spread, so you may need to add something else to contain it. If you do it yourself, this is a cheap landscaping idea that will only include the cost of materials. So, you could pay anywhere from $20.00 up to over $200.

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Side entrance landscaping BEFORE by Justin Snow / CC BY-ND 2.0

21. Plant Shrubs

Shrubs are an excellent cheap landscaping idea that can take up a decent amount of space per shrub, and they can give you visual interest all year-round if you go with evergreens. You do want to make sure that you get the correct shrubs for your intended space as some do much better in full sun while others prefer partial or full shade. They also have different growth habits that range from sprawling groundcovers to tall upright privacy fences.

Although this cheap landscaping idea may cost more upfront, the shrubs can easily survive for years with minimal maintenance needed on your end. So, they’ll pay for themselves a year or two after you plant them. You can expect to pay between $20.00 and $80.00 per shrub, depending on the type and size you pick out.

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Garden shrubs by Katia Strieck / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bottom Line

These 21 cheap landscaping ideas will allow you to fill in your space and add visual interest to the area without breaking your budget. We invite you to add a few to your landscape and see how well it works to boost your home’s curb appeal. You can save time, money, and effort when you pick them out, and they work in large and small yards.

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Jen Stark

Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.

21 Cheap Landscaping Ideas for Design on a Budget - Happy DIY Home (2024)


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