15 Low-Cost Ideas for a Beautiful Landscape

Make your yard great without breaking the bank.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Doug Yaney, www.yanzum.com

Photo By: Photo by Mick Telkamp

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felder Rushing

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Think Beyond Pots

Expand your container repertoire to include found objects from around the house. Anything that can hold soil can be pressed into service as a container, including baskets, kitchen colanders or old garden boots. Remember to make drainage holes in the bottom of containers so soil won’t stay soggy.

Edge Creatively

Give your beds a distinctive edge with recycled objects. Inverted wine or water bottles form an edging full of personal flair and add fantastic color to the garden. Any object you have in abundance can be repurposed as bed edging, such shovel blades (or other tool heads), oversize seashells or logs sawed into short sections (install vertically). In cold regions choose glass objects that are thick enough to resist freezes without cracking. If your region has strong termite issues, avoid wooden bed edging.

Secondhand Tools

Keep an eye out for garden tools at yard sales and auctions. Older tools may show wear, but it’s not tough to clean up metal blades and revitalize wooden handles. You might even consider picking up used tools to harvest the heads or handles to repair tools you currently own.

Repurpose Objects

Many items can find new life in the garden, like this trash-can-lid-turned birdbath. Search our website for more inspiring ideas on creating garden items from other objects. Scour your garage, flea markets and salvage yards for items you can reinvent.

Walk This Way

The shoestring budget guide to making a garden path is to start with a shredded bark path that you eventually upgrade to gravel, crusher run, pavers or other hard material. If you or a neighbor removes a tree, see if you can have the wood chips. Many municipalities have free yard waste drop-offs that offer free wood chips.

Save Seeds

Take time to gather seeds from plants you want to sow around the garden. Good candidates include self-sowers like bachelor’s buttons, larkspur, cleome, columbine and black-eyed susan. Collect herb seeds, like dill, fennel or coriander to have a fresh source on hand for cooking.

Move Mirrors Outside

Remodeling a bathroom? Spy a mirror on a curb or at a flea market? Mirrors can transform a garden space by reflecting scenery or light. They make a small garden feel twice the size, and they’re wonderful for bouncing light into shady nooks. Get creative with how you add the mirror to the garden. Tucking it into a trellis is one way to make it a strong focal point.

Save Lattice Scraps

Don’t toss lattice ends and pieces—and don’t just drive by ones sitting on the curb for trash pick-up. Instead, look at them like tinker toys and start thinking about what you can build—like this eye-catching trellis. Add some paint and your creation could quickly become a high point of your garden.

DIY Garden Beds

Maybe you like the look of raised beds or just have terrible soil. Either way, making your own raised beds is a snap—and it will save you money compared to buying prefabricated beds.

Divide Plants

The fastest way to fill in a perennial garden is by dividing existing plantings—or by getting divisions from gardening friends. The right time to divide perennials varies, but generally you can do it in early spring as new growth appears or in early fall (time it so you get divisions planted six weeks before you first average frost date). Wait to divide spring bloomers after they flower or in early autumn.

Got Paint?

Colorful paint can transform many items in a garden, elevating them from functional stuff to chic objets d’art. Even 5-gallon buckets become a stand-out when painted in colorful patterns.

Pot Fountain

If you crave a water feature but can’t handle the high price of pre-plumbed fountains, start exploring DIY options. For a modest investment, you can convert a pot you own into a pretty fountain. If you just want to add the sound of running water to a garden space, tuck a $15 pond pump into a bucket of water that’s stashed out of sight.

Go Native With Hardscape

You’ll find the cheapest option for underfoot surfaces is whatever is most readily available locally. Small gravel offers a low price point in most markets and works well as a patio or path. Check with a local garden center, landscaper or quarry to learn about locally available materials.

A Tisket, A Tasket

Breathe new life into a laundry basket that’s seen better days by using it as a container garden. Line any basket with a sheet of plastic to keep damp soil from quickly breaking down the wicker. Don’t forget to punch drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic.

Save Prunings

Create a striking twig screen by weaving shrub and tree prunings around uprights. If you want a screen that lasts several years, substitute rebar or vinyl-coated stakes for the uprights. You can add to a twig screen throughout the growing season, anytime you prune woody plants. Or salvage sticks from branches or trees that come down during high winds.