Nine budget friendly landscaping ideas for the backyard

April 4, 2019

Thinking about upgrading your backyard this spring but fearful of what it might cost? Fear not.
From hardscaping to softscaping, there’s plenty of cheap landscaping ideas for your backyard.
Check out these budget-friendly ideas to beautify your backyard landscape without having to take out a second mortgage.

1. Use Mulch Alternatives
Mulching is a time and money saver as it reduces the amount of water and weeding your garden needs, but mulch itself can be expensive. That’s why one of the best budget backyard ideas is to use an affordable mulch alternative.

Low-Cost Mulch Alternatives include Grass Clippings, Leaves, Pine Needles, Compost, Newspaper, Stone.
If your heart is set on traditional mulch, it’s best to go with pine mulch, says Gene Caballero of GreenPal. “It’s way cheaper than hardwood mulch and is easier to transport and spread.”

2. Go Vertical With Your Gardening
Love to garden but don’t have a ton of space – or money – to do so? Consider a vertical garden.
Vertical gardening, simply put, is using vertical space to grow plants. If you’re looking for small backyard landscaping ideas on a budget, vertical gardens are a good place to start. Not only do they make the most of limited space, but they can be inexpensive too, especially if you’re using recycled materials like old plastic bottles to make it.

3. Add a Splash of Color
Sometimes all it takes to make a backyard pop is to add some color.
This can be as simple as painting planters to give your garden a more contemporary look, or giving wood, metal or plastic chairs a fresh coat of paint. To save even more on this budget backyard landscaping project, reuse leftover paint from previous projects instead of buying new paints.
You can also add a quick splash of color in the form of flowers or foliage, positioning them on a deck, patio, at an entryway or tucked into a planting bed.

4. Plant Useful Plants
Cut grocery costs in the summer time by growing your own vegetables and herbs right in your own backyard. From DIY herb gardens to plants that repel bugs, you can easily turn your backyard into a space that’s beautiful and functional with a few terracotta planters and the right placement.
5. Opt for Natural Perennial Ground Covers
Tired of weeding the lawn? Skip the weed killers and opt for dense spreading perennial ground covers instead.

According to Jonas Sickler of, weed killers can be both costly and hazardous to your health. “Harsh chemicals in Roundup can sicken pets and has been linked to cancer,” Sickler says. “Weed killers aren’t just bad for your health – they also pack a punch to your bank account at over $20 [per container].”

There’s nothing better than sitting around the fire pit on a Michigan summer night making smores with the family. But you don’t need to spring for a contractor to put one in.

There’s nothing better than sitting around the fire pit on a Michigan summer night making smores with the family. But you don’t need to spring for a contractor to put one in.

6. Build an Outdoor Fire Pit
There’s no better way to bring the family together than with smores over a fire pit. But you don’t need to spring for a contractor to put one in – with one trip to the home improvement store, you can have your own backyard campfire station in just a few minutes.
Here are a few affordable ideas to make your own DIY fire pit on a budget: Concrete retaining wall blocks, Cinder block caps, Concrete fire bowl, Dirt floor fire ring.

7. Plant a Tree
Planting trees is one of the easiest – and least expensive – backyard budget landscaping projects of all. All you need are a few digging tools, some mulch and the tree. Plus, having well-planned trees in your yard can end up saving you money in the long run.

8. Use Affordable Lighting
Cheap outdoor string lights are a staple of budget backyard landscaping. Their soft, ambient glow can turn any patio into a chill summer hangout. White twinkle lights cost about $6 per strand, or for a more modern look, you can pick up a strand of clear globe lights for around $9.
Though slightly more expensive, globe light strands are usually more durable than twinkle lights, and the bulbs are easily replaced.

9. Buy (or Build) Low-Cost Seating
Once you’ve finished your backyard budget landscaping projects, you’ll want a place to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But no need to run to the furniture store – you can easily search for used pieces online or make your own cheap outdoor seating right at home.

Cheap Outdoor Seating Ideas:
Search Craigslist or Letgo for used patio seating. Check the “Free Stuff” sections often and be prepared to move quickly – good items will go fast.
Don’t limit your searches to outdoor furniture; with a little waterproof sealant, you can turn regular indoor chairs or barstools into patio-worthy seating.
Not finding anything you like? Make your own cinder block and lumber bench.
Turn a tree stump into the perfect reading spot by attaching a waterproof cushion on top.
Fix weatherproof cushions to milk crates for portable seating that can be easily stored.
When all else fails, drag a few old logs around your new fire pit for easy campfire seating.
The best backyard budget landscaping tip of all is to reuse and recycle items whenever possible.
Visit your local thrift stores and check the classifieds online to find local garage sales. By purchasing used planters, furniture and even gardening tools to spruce up your lawn, you can save hundreds of dollars, and keep some really nice items out of the trash.

Ultimately, to keep your backyard landscaping costs low, all you need is time and a little creativity.

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