Are you thinking about sprucing up your front yard? If you’re like me, you might have great landscaping plans. Unfortunately for me (and maybe you as well), I don’t have unlimited finances! That means I’ve had to become good at creating the look I want without breaking the bank. If you’d like to give your lawn a much-needed facelift without spending a lot of money, read on for some of my cheap landscaping ideas for the front yard.
How To Landscape Your Front Yard On A Budget
Save money by turning junk into planters
You may have heard the old saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” With this money-saving tip, we’re going to turn your junk into a landscaping treasure. This smart landscaping hack allows you to get rid of some of the junk you’ve accumulated, while also giving your front yard a new look. When I say junk, I’m referring to things you’ve been meaning to get rid of that haven’t quite gotten around to yet.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Maybe you have an old wheelbarrow it’s on its last legs. It’s served you well over the years but is well past its prime. Instead of taking it down to the local dump, why not turn it into a planter? Think creatively. Give it a paint job and make it home to some flowing vines or your favorite flowers.
Wooden barrel planter
Cut an old barrel or wooden crate in half and voila! You’ve got two planters that didn’t cost you a penny. Crates and barrels of different sizes can be used to create a multilevel effect. Nail a few wooden pallets together and you can create a raised plant bed.
There really is no end to what you can create by repurposing things around the house. This also provides the chance to finally clean out your garage or that shed in the backyard. Get creative. Start looking at just about everything as a possible planter.
An old tub or a bookcase can help you renovate your front yard look on the cheap. Maybe the look you’re trying to create means buying a dozen or more traditional planters. That can easily set you back more than $100. This budget landscaping idea gives you more money to spend on new plants and flowers instead.
What’s that you say? You don’t have anything you can transform from trash to planter? Try this. Talk to your neighbors and see if they have anything you can take off their hands. They’ll be happy that you’re knocking something off of their dusty to-do list, and you’ll have Planters galore.
Do a good enough job and you might work your way into a profitable side gig turning unwanted and unused items into planters for your friends and neighbors.
Check out these 10 simple front yard landscaping ideas.
Add window boxes for cheap curb appeal
When you were rooting around your home looking for potential planter material, did you come across any unused lumber? You might have some leftover from a previous do-it-yourself project. Any self-respecting DIYer will have plenty of screws, nails, and brackets lying around somewhere.
Is there any building going on in your neighborhood? Talk to the contractor or home builder. Chat up with that neighbor who’s always on some woodworking project. Check with the managers of big-box retailers like Walmart or Home Depot. See if they can spare a few boards or pallets here and there.
Window boxes are really versatile. You can grow so many different plants, flowers, and vines in them!
Aside from saving money while giving your front yard some natural beauty, window boxes fill another need. They can add color and charm to your home while hiding wear, tear and imperfections in your siding.
Maybe you’re not much of a carpenter. And you don’t know anybody who can handle the carpentry work for you. While you’re at your big box home improvement store, price lumber. If you haven’t bought any lumber in years, get ready for a shock. Even a small amount of wood can get expensive in a hurry.
To skip that cost, you can buy window boxes premade and ready to go. There are also window box kits that can be assembled by even the person with very little carpentry or do-it-yourself skills. If you can’t find anything local, jump online. The global reach of the Internet lets you shop for the best possible price and check customer reviews so you get a great product.
7 Tips for getting landscaping plants cheap or for free
Unless you’re doing nothing but transplanting, you’re going to need to break out the plastic eventually. You’ve made your list and realize you’re going to need to buy quite a few plants. You want to do so on the cheap, and I’m here to help. Here are 7 great tips for buying cheap landscaping plants on a budget
1. Buy perennials
One cheap landscaping idea for the front yard (and the backyard for that matter) has to do with the type of plant you buy.
You can find beautiful annuals that add color to your landscape. They are sometimes cheaper than perennials but remember that annuals don’t come back year after year. Perennials do. If you have to spend a little bit more on perennials now, you end up saving money in the future.
If you plant perennials like columbines, they can drop seeds and keep you from having to purchase more plants down the road.
Hydrangeas and peonies add a flash of color to an otherwise dull landscape.
Asters, purple cone flowers, and clematis are other perennials that grow quickly.
2. Buy seeds instead of plants
If you’re not looking for a “right now” fix, why not buy seeds instead of plants? It’s tempting to pick up a few flowers and other plants that can immediately transfer the look of your front yard. You can still do that. But instead of purchasing nothing but potted plants, buy some seeds as well.
You can pick up a packet of seeds for a couple of dollars. If you’re new to this, make sure you check the weight of a packet. Most seed packets will print the number of seeds on the outside, but this isn’t always the case. Geranium seeds are more expensive than many other varieties, and may only have 5 or 10 seeds in each packet.
If you’re looking for plants that grow fast and are easy to take care of, try zinnias (this packet has more than enough and will give you a nice variety of colors in large sizes). Sunflowers and morning glories are also fast-growing and need little maintenance.
3. Buy self-seeding plants
Self seeding plants only need to be purchased once. There are so many beautiful flowers that will reseed themselves, giving you years of color in the garden without any extra cost. Here are just a few ideas:
- black eye Susan
- morning glory
- herbs (dill, basil, parsley, feverfew, and more)
4. Ask family, friends, and neighbors for cuttings
Many plants can be multiplied by taking a cutting and rooting it in either water on directly in the soil.
Basil, for example, will root in water in as little as 4 days. There are ma y other flowers that can be propagated by cuttings:
5. Don’t forget to save your receipt!
You probably already know this, but I want to mention it just in case. Many nurseries offer guarantees. They might replace a plant if it dies within 30 days or three months.
Wherever you buy your plants, whether it’s from a big box retailer or a mom-and-pop nursery, ask about guarantees. It never hurts to ask, and this can save you money on replacement costs.
6. Get rewarded for loyalty
Smart retailers reward you for your loyalty. Take advantage. This is a great budget landscaping tip I use myself. Wherever you shop for plants and gardening tools locally, ask if there is a loyalty program. There are plenty of online nurseries and other retailers that will also pay you for your loyalty when you’re buying seeds, plants and other gardening paraphernalia.
7. Buy in bulk when you can
You might be thinking, “What am I going to do with the 18 marigolds in this flat? I don’t have enough room for that many plants.” If you are a plant and garden lover like I am, you probably have friends who are too. Have a friend or two split the cost when you buy in bulk.
This can save you some serious money. You may have to shop at a warehouse instead of a local nursery to get large bulk quantities.
I like to support my local nurseries, so I tell them what I’m going to be looking for ahead of time. Then they can order whatever quantity I need, and I can negotiate a great price per plant.
Turn it into a DIY project
One of the smartest cheap landscaping ideas for the front yard can also be a lot of fun. Become a do-it-yourselfer. You love flowers and plants and digging in the dirt. Turn this into a DIY project and you can save some real money.
Sure, it would be nice to make this a hands-off project. But let’s talk about the type of cost you can incur with even just a basic front yard job. Check out these landscaping cost averages from Fixr.com.
- Small job – $3,000
- New grass seed, topsoil, and front shrubs – $14,000
- Professional designs, new soil, grading, grass seed, plants, patio, and walkway – up to $30,000
There is no doubt that professional landscaping improves the value of your home. Your curb appeal goes straight up. You feel a sense of pride every time you drive up to your home, and you can even raise the value of the homes around you with a big landscaping job.
As you can see from the numbers above, you can save a ton of money by doing all or some of the work yourself. We talked earlier about some smart and simple DIY landscaping projects. With a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease, you can handle many of your desired front yard landscaping tasks yourself, and your bank account will thank you.
Spread mulch (and how to get it for free)
Spreading mulch is a physical job. It can be backbreaking, and the tip here is to use a wheelbarrow to carry mulch from your vehicle to its final resting place. The dark purple-brown color of mulch makes the perfect background for your beautiful plants.
Mulch is also ideal for limiting weed growth. It helps lock in much-needed moisture for your plants and organic mulch is great for another reason. Buy organic mulch and as it decays it puts vital nutrients into your soil and your plants. Mulch is budget friendly and can totally transform an unattractive yard.
If you have a large area to cover, even inexpensive mulch can become costly. It might take more bags than you imagined. This is where free mulch is a beautiful thing. Wood chips and compost can be used for mulch.
Keep your pine needles, straw, and grass clippings. You can get these from your own yard or from other homes in your neighborhood. Offering to rake straw or pick up grass cuttings for your neighbor makes you a next-door hero, and provide some mulch and material for free.
Keep an eye out for the electric company trimming trees and making them into chips. They need to pay to dispose of those chips, and you can do them a favor AND get free mulch. We get a few loads a year this way and the wood chips make a great mulch.
Cheap landscaping ideas for the front yard – plant saplings
I talked earlier about buying seeds instead of plants to save a ton of money. The idea here is basically the same thing. You’re going to be planting saplings instead of more mature trees.
Trees can help you block strangers from looking at your property. They can help you hide your neighbors’ unsightly homes and nude sunbathing habits. The problem is that a small or medium tree can easily cost a couple of hundred dollars. You can expect to pay $1,000 or more for a large tree.
After factoring in transportation and labor, a medium-sized deciduous tree can easily set you back $1,700 to $2,400 ($500 for the tree and $1,200 to $1,900 for installation).
As you can see, planting saplings is a cheap landscaping idea for the front yard that can save you some serious green.
Install a gravel walkway
Gravel walkways just look and sound great to me. Yes, did I mention the sound that your feet make as you “crunch, crunch, crunch” along a gravel path? Fortunately for us, budget-conscious front yard “landscapers”, gravel is extremely common and in great supply most of the time.
This means it can be one of the most inexpensive items you add to your project. Gravel is extremely versatile as well. You can use it in a number of ways to beautify your front yard. If you’ve never purchased gravel in bulk before, you’re going to need to select the size of the rocks. You could choose a size from course rock salt down to pea gravel. Gravel is also sold in large rock and even boulder sizes.
There’s one thing to remember here. Gravel can be extremely slippery if it isn’t contained. You don’t want gravel shifting and sliding under your guests’ feet. You can use 1″ x 4″ boards to contain the gravel or purchase inexpensive vinyl bordering for the job.
Consider hiring a landscaping professional now for savings later
You might be thinking, “I can’t hire a professional landscaper. They’re way out of my budget.” That might be the case. Just remember that spending some money on a landscaper now can turn into a money-saving, budget move later.
Hiring an experienced landscaper for your front yard renovation can be the right move for a lot of reasons. The expert is going to know how to create the look you want with the greatest possible upside. He knows how to arrange your materials for proper irrigation and wind flow. He’ll also know exactly where to put trees so you can save money on your electric bill.
The Exelon Corporation is an energy provider. On their blog, they offer the following great information about the money-saving nature of planting trees the right way on your property:
- A young, healthy tree can help cool your property. The daily cooling effect is equal to 10 single-room air conditioning units that run for 20 hours.
- A tall shade tree planted on the west side of your home can reduce your energy bill by 3% in less than five years. After 15 years, that single tree could drop your power bill by almost 12%
- Proper placement of just three trees around your house can reduce energy costs by as much as 30%.
More cheap landscaping ideas for the front yard
There are so many ways to save money on your front yard landscaping job.
- Get the whole family involved. That’s a bunch of free labor right there, and you can teach your children some wonderful lessons about mother nature.
- Buy plants at the end of their season to save money.
- Work in bits and pieces: the job doesn’t have to be done overnight.
- Ask your neighbors and other gardeners for tips. They might have a simple piece of advice that can save you some serious money.
- Talk to local gardening pros. Get their advice. Let everyone you know that you’re always on the lookout for a gardening or landscaping deal.
- Finally, get started! Your beautiful lawn won’t materialize by itself, so start using these cheap landscaping ideas for the front yard today.
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project.