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How to Landscape on a Budget

The great thing about landscaping is that it’s an investment in your home’s value. It increases your curb appeal, sure, but it’s more than that. Strategic landscaping can actually reduce your home’s energy savings. Short trees and shrubs block wind that strikes your house, helping to lower your heating bills. And during the summer, shade trees planted around your air conditioning unit can help reduce your cooling expenses. But landscaping your yard yourself can seem like a huge drain on your budget. Here are some DIY tips for making your yard look beautiful on a budget.

Ways to save

Rethink hardscapes

Items like patios, gazebos, and arbors will always eat into your budget, and they’re almost always more expensive than you think. If you’re set on incorporating hardscapes into your landscaping, look for recycled materials. Recycled wood, bricks, and even concrete can be an inexpensive alternative to buying these materials new.

Beg, borrow, and steal

Okay, don’t really steal anything. But you can save money by getting everything you can for free. 

  • Ask friends for cuttings and shoots from their gardens. 
  • It’s likely you can get boulders for free from a construction site, and these can step up your landscape game if used sparingly.
  • Some city governments will give away mulch or wood chips for free.

Wait it out

Timing is everything when you’re trying to stay within a budget. Never buy plants at the beginning of the growing season (spring or summer). Fall is the best time to plant, and nurseries will have discounted plants. The same is true of tools and supplies. Focus on making sure plant roots look good (not mushy) instead of the condition of the leaves, and your plants will flourish in the next spring. 

Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is likely to pay off, especially considering you’re often paying for packaging. It’s tempting to pick up a bag of fertilizer as you need it, but you can save money in the long run if you buy it all at once.

Buy seeds online

Seeds can be much more challenging to maintain than buying already-grown plants. But if you have a green thumb and want to buy seeds, check online costs before buying them from retail stores, as buying online can be much cheaper.

What to splurge on


Buy trees first, and invest in good trees like maples, oaks, or sycamores. Other trees, like birches, elms, and poplars, will grow quickly but will also die quickly.


Yes, those annuals are attractive, but they will be costly to replace year after year—not to mention all the extra work they’ll take to replace. Perennials may be slightly more expensive (and also may not be), but their investment will pay off as they get bigger and more attractive each year.

Planting tips 

Choose native plants

Adding exotic plants can be tempting, but using plants that are native to your area are more likely to thrive in your yard. They save you money by cutting your costs on things like water and pesticides, and you’ll save lots of time on maintenance, as they grow naturally.

Plant in groups

You’ve probably heard you should plant in threes, but it will save you valuable maintenance time if you plant in 20s instead. Planting in groups is also a great way to use those bulk purchases. 

Plant closely

You don’t want it to take years for your landscape to fill in, so plant several inches apart. Divide large plants into divisions and spread them out. 

It’s possible to have a beautiful yard on a budget. Do you have any other landscaping tips? Share them with us below.

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