Easy Budget Landscape Ideas to Add Personality and Style to Your Yard

Add oomph to your outdoor space with these creative (and budget-friendly) landscape design and decor ideas.


Make It Fabulous With Fabric


A little fabric can work miracles. A piece of it stitched into a tablecloth can turn an old picnic table or a simple card table into an inviting dining spot. A few pillows can turn an old bench into a garden retreat. And a slipcover or two can revitalize world-weary garden furniture.

Many people think using fabrics outdoors is a no-no, but that's not the case. Look for inexpensive materials on clearance or remnants, or you can recycle sheets and consider the fabrics semi-disposable. Leave them in the rain and then let the sun dry them again. They'll last just a year or two, but then you'll be free to start with a fresh look.

The other alternative is to invest in rugged, exterior-quality fabrics found at most fabric shops. They resist fading and mildew and will be around for years.

Play Around With Concrete Paint

Concrete paint has been the savior of many a bland concrete slab patio or ho-hum front walk

It comes in many colors and adds interest and warmth to even old, cracked concrete. For example, paint a concrete-slab patio in a gray and green checkerboard pattern. Or run a rich blue strip up your front steps, bordered by two deep red stripes. Or give your driveway a warm glow by painting it a deep umber. Come up with any pattern you like. You can patch cracks and chips if you want, but some of the most interesting projects incorporate those flaws into the design.

Painting concrete is just about as easy as painting a wall:

  1. First, wash down the surface with diluted muriatic acid, and use a stiff brush to remove all traces of dirt and grime.
  2. Once the concrete is dry, mark out your pattern with masking paint and pencil marks.
  3. Paint with regular brushes, using small brushes for more detailed designs. Allow to dry thoroughly for one or two days, then seal with an oil-based sealer. You can tint the sealer to add more richness to the color.
  4. Add your own inexpensive structure with a landscaping timber bed.

Collect Cool Stuff

Outdoor Room

Budget landscapes can get added character with collectibles. Birdhouses, vintage garden tools, weathered watering cans, baskets, birdcages, vintage trellises, or even old sporting equipment can be picked up at antique stores and flea markets. They look good no matter the weather. And they don't need watering or weeding—a plus for any busy gardener.

Some rules do apply. Keep some common themes among your collectibles to prevent a chaotic, hodge-podge look. Perhaps all of them will have a rusty, oxidized surface. Or all will be birdhouses. Or all will be made of weathered natural wood.

Cluster groups of collectibles together, displaying them in much the same way you would in your home. For example, a grouping of old hand tools would look great artistically arranged and hung by nails on the side of the garage. A display of old watering cans might look good lined up on a simple bench or hung in a row along a tall privacy fence.

As fun as it is to use collectibles, it's also important to limit yourself. The garden should be more about plants than stuff, so exercise restraint and limit yourselves to favorite pieces displayed in moderation.

Dig a Front Flower Bed

Front Yard

Give over a weekend to digging a deep, curving flower bed around the front of your house. This budget landscape project will not only beautify your home but improve its value as well.

Front flower beds are eye-catchers and enhance what real-estate agents call "curb appeal."

Make the bed deep enough—anywhere from 3 to 6 feet deep—to have an effect. Fill it with shrubs along the back next to the house and a few long-blooming perennials.

Get Potted

Container Vegetable Garden

Pots of plants solve so many problems. They dress up a plain entry and add color and greenery to barren concrete corners and blah back doors. They pretty up porches and patios.

Investing in an extensive collection of pots can set you back, but buying just a few each year is a budget landscape plan within reach of just about everyone.

Focus on purchasing pots that go with one another, those made of similar material, or some other unifying theme. If you have a collection of different pots, paint them all the same color (there is now a paint especially for clay pots).

Your collections of pots will be even more striking if you scatter accents among them, such as small sculptures or something as simple as a pretty stone.

Add Salvaged Objects

Repurposed container

Don't throw it out -- find a new use for it in your garden. Whether you have leftovers from a home project or you've been lucky in dumpster diving, architectural remnants (such as these old windows shown here) and other odds and ends add that much-touted "structure" to the garden.

More Landscaping Ideas

  • Hang a mirror. It adds glitter and light to a space and can reflect a nice view. Just be sure to hang it in a somewhat protected spot, such as under an overhang.
  • Hinge old doors together to make an outdoor screen, great for hiding garbage cans or a compost heap.
  • A rickety chair can be given new life as a small trellis. Plunk it right down directly in a flower bed and plant with a vine.
  • Old weathered wood looks great in the garden. Weathered lumber, salvaged from the dump or a demolition project, is easy to turn into a simple bench or potting table and will look as though it's always been in your garden.
  • A secondhand dresser, especially if it has chipped and peeling paint, looks surprisingly at home in the garden. Put it up against a wall and use it as a potting bench. The drawers make for excellent storage.

More Ways to Boost Your Budget

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