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Landscaping your garden on a tight budget

Last Updated Jan 13, 2017 · Written by Rob Schneider


You want to improve your garden, but your budget is tight. How can you do landscaping on a tight budget? It's not as hard as you may think. Use your imagination and you can create a beautiful garden on a small budget. Here are eight ideas to get you started.

  1. Choose Inexpensive Plants
  2. Choose Plants You Can Grow from Cuttings
  3. Garden Edging Ideas
  4. If You Have a Lawn
  5. If You Don't Have a Lawn
  6. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
  7. The Power of Paint
  8. How to Create a Budget Vertical Garden

Choose Inexpensive Plants

You don't have to buy the most expensive plants in the nursery for your landscaping. Use native plants and your garden will be beautiful and less expensive. Choose plants that are native to your area and with a little care, they will be a beautiful addition to your landscape.

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Don't think you have to cover your garden in plants. You can start small and use mulch around your plants to make your garden look better. If you want to fill it in later, you can, and it may not have to cost you anything.

Choose Plants You Can Grow from Cuttings

It's surprising how many beautiful plants you can grow from cuttings. You don't have to be an expert, either. Some plants that are easy to grow from cuttings include:

  • Azaleas
  • Camelias
  • Hibiscus
  • Impatiens
  • Most native plants
  • Most succulents

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For tips on growing plants from cuttings, read The Easiest Plants to Grow from Cuttings. You can also find more specific instructions for growing plants from cuttings online. You may need to start some of your cuttings in pots, but you don't have to buy pots. Simply cut a plastic bottle in half and poke holes in the bottom for drainage.

Garden Edging Ideas

You can buy garden edging and it's not expensive, but if you use your imagination, you can create your own. Edging only has to be durable enough to hold soil back. Depending on your location, you can probably find many things that would make beautiful garden edging:

  • Rocks
  • Glass bottles
  • Tree branches
  • Recycled timber
  • Old tyres
  • Old bricks or concrete

And old tyre cut into lengths might not sound like it would make beautiful garden edging, but you can always use paint to make any garden edging more attractive. And don't forget that you don't have to stick with one type of edging. You can mix materials and have beautiful and creative garden edging. For example, a row of broken concrete may not look very good. Try something more creative and intersperse old bricks with broken concrete or rocks for more interesting edging.

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If You Have a Lawn

If you have a lawn, but it needs maintenance, you don't have to spend money to improve it. For example, the soil in lawns becomes compacted over time. If you see brown spots in your lawn, that may be the reason. You don't have to buy an aerator to aerate the soil. You can do the job with a pitchfork or other forked tool.

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To find out if compacted soil is the problem, try to insert a screwdriver in your lawn. If it is hard to insert, your soil is compacted. If it is easy to insert, your lawn may need fertilising. Lawn fertiliser is inexpensive and you can apply it yourself.

If You Don't Have a Lawn

If you have flat or gently sloping space that needs filling in, you have more than one option. You can buy turf, but also consider filling the space with pebbles. A lawn needs regular watering and maintenance. A rock garden can be just as beautiful and won't waste water or require as much maintenance.

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If you like the look of a green lawn, but live in an area where water shortages occur, consider buying artificial turf. After the initial expense, artificial turf will be almost maintenance free and will require no water, fertiliser or weeding.

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As with garden edging, you don't have to think in terms of one material only. You can combine pebbles with artificial turf (or real turf, if you prefer) to create a beautiful garden.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

We've become accustomed to going to the hardware store or nursery to buy things for our garden. The first settlers didn't have that luxury, so many of them learned to create gardens using recycled materials.

You can buy a new pot, but if you have an old bucket lying around, you can paint it and use it as a pot. If you want to buy a pot, why not buy an inexpensive pot and paint it in bright colours instead of spending much more on a glazed pot?

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Do you have an old wheelbarrow lying around? It may be rusty and have holes in it, but an old wheelbarrow can make a beautiful "pot" for your flowers or veggies. Paint the outside and if it's not rusted through the metal, drill some holes in the bottom to provide drainage.

When you're out and about, look for things you can recycle and use in your garden. Once you start thinking about recycling, you'll be surprised by the number of things you'll find. Why buy new garden furniture when you can repaint an old chair or bench you find for a song at a garage sale?

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When you're at the beach or in the bush, you might run across a piece of driftwood or an interesting looking fallen branch. Throw them in your car and you'll find the perfect place for them in your garden.

Rust can look beautiful in your garden. Don't overlook rusted items you find or can buy for almost nothing. You can even create a fence or ornamental display area out of rusty items.

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The Power of Paint

We mentioned paint above. You can paint almost any material and make it look like new again. Old tyres, old buckets, a wheelbarrow, old furniture or an inexpensive terracotta pot can be transformed by paint.

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Do you have a wall or fence that just doesn't seem to be right for your garden? You don't need to replace it if you have a can of paint. Use any colour you like to bring your garden to life. You can stick with white or neutrals if you like, but a bold colour might be just what your garden needs.

How to Create a Budget Vertical Garden

You can buy vertical garden kits, but you can also create a budget vertical garden. How to Create a Vertical Garden Yourself mentions several possibilities:

  • Fill old pallets with soil and stack them to create a vertical garden
  • Cut plastic bottles through the centre and create hanging baskets
  • Hang pots on your fence using chicken wire. Wrap wire around the pots to hang them
  • Stack old crates on top of each other. Create a pattern or make a pyramid

These are just a few suggestions. You can also use hooks to hang pots or plastic containers on a fence. If you don't have a fence, use recycled timber or an old timber door. Peeling paint can look beautiful in the garden, especially if it has colourful plants next to it.

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These are just a few landscaping on a tight budget ideas. Once you start thinking outside the shopping box, you'll discover a world of budget ideas. Combine free or inexpensive materials with a little creativity and your garden will be as beautiful as a garden designed with an unlimited budget. Maybe even more beautiful.

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