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How Can I Make My Backyard Beautiful on A Low Budget?

Recently I found myself asking, “How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget?” Like so many nature lovers, I have grand landscaping dreams. I live in the real world though, and that means sticking to a budget when I want to give my backyard a much-needed upgrade. If that’s your situation, then read on for some backyard beautifying tips that even the tightest budget can afford.

A cozy backyard with stone walkway and perennial flowers

Can I Really Give My Backyard a Makeover on a Tight Budget?

This is a question I get all of the time. Some people think that when I use terms like budget, cheap and inexpensive in regard to a landscaping project, I’m still talking about costs that are beyond their reach. Trust me, that isn’t the case. I work hard to find ways to spend little or no money to make my yard look beautiful.

I believe the old saying that a penny saved is a penny earned. Any money I can save on lawn maintenance or upgrades is money I can spend in other places. This means I come up with inventive ways to build patio furniture. I take tips from others who have created outdoor dining experiences like fire pits without breaking the bank.

When I find something like old tires, I consider them as building blocks for my garden design. I’m not afraid to try something that might be unconventional but costs no money. I think even if I hit the lottery tomorrow, I would still enjoy coming up with inexpensive, but creative DIY backyard projects.

All that to say is that it really is possible to give your lawn an amazing look without taking out a second mortgage. That’s what you’ll be able to do with the money-saving tips and best practices I’m about to share with you, regardless of your budget level. Let’s start with something that boasts my favorite price tag of all time … free!

How Can I Make My Backyard Beautiful on A Low Budget?

A simple way to make your backyard beautiful … for FREE

Just about every home-improvement project requires what I’m about to mention. It doesn’t cost a thing (not financially, anyway). Everyone has it, and you might even have more than I do. By the way, it’s pretty much limitless. Once you use it, all you have to do is wait a little while, and it magically replenishes itself.

What free backyard beautification resource am I talking about? I’m referring to the wonderful resource known as “elbow grease”.

a man building a cement walkway

What’s elbow grease? It’s a slang term for hard work. It usually refers to physical work which requires you to expend your energy and sweat a little. You don’t need to buy anything. You don’t need anyone else to help you. All that’s required is some time, effort, and physical labor.

A smart tip here is to tackle one task at a time. When you step out of your back door and take a look at your yard, you might notice several things that need to be done. You need to lay down some mulch, that old shed should be taken down and removed, your lawn needs to be cut and your garden needs to be weeded. If you look at all those tasks together, it can be overwhelming.

Instead, make a list. Put the projects that are easiest to accomplish at the top of your list. Tackle them first. These should be things you can knock out in a short period of time. Then move on to those to-do list items that deliver the most visual appeal for your time and effort. In no time, you’ll begin to see some marvelous changes in the look of your backyard, without spending a penny.

How much will a backyard makeover cost me?

Elbow grease is free and it’s a wonderful resource. Physical labor combined with a little time and effort can go a long way to making your backyard beautiful. Sometimes though, there’s no avoiding breaking out the plastic. You’ve got to dip into your bank account and spend some money. That gets you thinking about how much money your backyard makeover is actually going to cost you. Consider these numbers.

  • Home Advisor says the national average in the US for a backyard renovation is $3,316. Their research shows homeowners spend $300 on the low end and $11,000 on the high end, on average.
  • If you just want to lay a little sod and add some bushes and plants, you can still end up spending a few thousand dollars.

But what if you don’t have a few thousand to spruce up your backyard? You can keep expenses down by using recycled materials. Below are a few examples.

Give your landscape an inexpensive upgrade with recycled tires

Recycled tire used as a garden container

When there isn’t much money in my budget for a project, I start thinking creatively. This lets me see so many things in a new light. I’ve used a rusted-out wheelbarrow as a planter and turned the wood from some old pallets into borders for my gardens and gravel paths.

Recycled tires are another unlikely source for beautifying your landscape on the cheap.

Instead of figuring out how to dispose of old tires, why not repurpose them? You can put them to good use in your backyard instead. If you don’t have any old rubber tires lying around (most people don’t), it’s easy to get them for free or with very little money. Head down to your local recycling plant and you can get several tires for just a few bucks.

You can also find them at automobile junkyards. If you spot some on a commercial or residential property, stop and ask if the owner would like you to take them off of their hands.

You can run a Google search for recycled or old tires in your area. Let your friends and coworkers know you’re on the hunt for old tires you can repurpose for your backyard landscaping job.

Stack them to create a terraced effect. You can use tires as planters for crawling vines and other plants that can eventually cover up the tires. Why not use a large tractor tire to make a small garden pond? Cut your tires in half to create hanging planters that beautify a building wall or fence.

Stack a few tires and wrap them with an outdoor-rated cloth of your choice. Screw a piece of wood on top and you have an outdoor table. Use two or three stacks of tires as legs of a bench or to make individual seats.

You can make different types of patio furniture that are functional, durable, and inexpensive when you repurpose old tires into backyard landscaping projects. Another cheap way to boost your backyard’s entertainment potential is by adding a fire pit.

Build an inexpensive backyard fire pit

brick fire pit surrounded by lawn chairs

Fire is elemental. People are drawn to fire naturally. It’s so enjoyable to share some good times with your friends around a fire pit in your backyard. Unfortunately for a lot of budgets, purchasing a retail fire pit can be costly. You could spend several hundred dollars on something that looks really nice.

Many less-expensive fire pits have a cheap and tacky appearance, and that’s certainly not the look you’re trying to create.

Besides, if you want to present a unique look, you can’t just head down to your big-box home improvement store and purchase one from the garden center. Do this instead.

Do you have any cinder blocks lying around from a previous project? Just a few cinder blocks can be staggered and layered to make a simple, low-budget fire pit you and your friends can enjoy at your next backyard get-together.

Or, you can use bricks left over from other projects, or rescued from construction sites (ask before you take anything from a construction site), or demolishing projects.

Maybe you’re tired of the way you’ve used pavers in your backyard. Instead of throwing them away when you create a new walkway, save them to make a rustic firepit.

Ready-mix cement is inexpensive. You can use some spare lumber and plastic bags or lining to build a fire pit mold. Then pour the cement, wait for it to harden, and remove the wood and plastic.

There are so many ways to build an inexpensive backyard fire pit. All you have to do is put on your thinking cap. Or… watch some youtube videos, like this one:

Another backyard accessory you can build on the cheap is seating.

Add inexpensive outdoor seating

Outdoor seating doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. You can turn a tree stump into a seat by leveling it off. Add a waterproof cushion for comfort. If you have a couple of stumps that are close to each other, use them as the legs of a bench. Just add some spare lumber for seating and back support.

outdoor seating made from a tree stump

A few cinder blocks and a little bit of lumber can turn a pile of trash into bench seating for all your friends.

Do you have any plastic milk crates taking up room in your garage or elsewhere? It’s so easy to attach waterproof cushions to plastic milk crates to create portable seating that can be stacked and stored.

If you have carpentry skills, build a tree bench. It doesn’t take much lumber or money to build a bench that seats several and to have it wrapped around a shade tree. This provides a refuge from the heat and sun in summer, and the trunk of the tree makes for natural back support.

a wooden bench built around a tree

Whether making fire pits or backyard benches, sticking to a budget for your backyard facelift is easier when you have help. You don’t have to look any further than your neighbors for these and other money-saving lawn improvement projects.

Decorate with recycled items

Recycling is not only inexpensive but the thrill of the hunt, coupled with the uniqueness is just what you need to make your backyard beautiful on a budget.

Here are just a few ideas to get your imagination going:

  • repaint an old metal chair, add a brightly colored chair cushion, and place it in the middle of your flower beds
  • plant flowers in an old shoe you no longer use and place it by your back door for a colorful greeting every time you come in or go out
  • find a cute teacup and saucer and make a bird feeder put in front of your window
  • buy some old colored glass plates and bowls and create some beautiful garden art. I’ve seen owls, flowers,  butterflies, rain chains, and more
  • I’m sure you can come up with your own version of any of these ideas. And if you do, I’d love you to share in the comments.

Start a neighborhood gardening club

A simple and fun way to make your backyard beautiful on a low budget is to get your friends and neighbors involved. Several of your neighbors probably have properties that are similar to yours. Some subdivisions have virtually identical properties when you compare one home to another.

This means your neighbors are familiar with the challenges you face on your property. Your soil quality is the same as theirs, they get the same amount of rainfall, sunshine, and the same weather. Why not join your neighbors for help in beautifying your respective backyards?

Start a neighborhood gardening club. This does so many important things for you when landscaping on a budget. Gardening centers often lower the cost per plant when you buy in bulk. A neighborhood gardening club allows you to take advantage of this landscaping money-saver.

When you come together with other nature lovers, you benefit from several different opinions. You might have neighbors with decades of experience digging in the dirt. Simply talking with them can reveal several different ways you can tackle your next landscaping project without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Neighborhood gardening clubs are fun because you’re hanging around with like-minded individuals. When you have a big job, there are a lot of hands that make the project go quickly. That means a lot more elbow grease than you can supply on your own, and your only cost might be hosting a backyard cookout as payment.

It also means free plants! Every spring, many perennials need to be divided, and summer flowers produce lots of seeds. Talk to your neighbors and see if you can get some free seeds and plants.

Time, effort, and creativity will contribute to a beautiful backyard on a budget

I’ve given you some money-saving ideas the next time you ask yourself, “How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget?” You’ll see that the common theme is a combination of elbow grease and creativity.

Start thinking about non-traditional ways you can improve the look of your backyard. In so many cases your landscaping ideas are only limited by your creativity and effort, and that means creating the experience you’re looking for on even the tightest of budgets.

Check out my list of 35 amazing front yard landscaping ideas.

How can I make my backyard beautiful on a low budget
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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. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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Diana L Duda

Wednesday 30th of November 2022

I have also been blessed with starts of plants from others. I offered some of the plants that I was thinning out and asked if anyone else was getting rid of plants. Most people would rather give the plants to someone rather than throw them out. I also found out that a local store discarded plants that were looking a little worn out. My friends call it the "dead flower store". They leave them on racks on the side of the store. Often, with a little love, these plants perk up and make beautiful additions to your garden. If annuals, at the end of the season I dump them into the fall-ready garden and chop them into pieces and then mix the pieces and soil into the ground to enrich and protect my other plants for the winter. I have dragged home bricks, pavers, etc. that were left at the end of people's drives with a sign that they were free. Created many beautiful pieces for the yard and garden. Even brought home an old wheel barrel from a neighbor's garbage and created "Willa Barrel" near my front door. Standing her upright I sort of dress her for the season.

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Wednesday 17th of August 2022

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