Do you have a boring backyard in desperate need of a makeover but lack the budget to make it happen?
Many people think that landscaping is an expensive hobby. But what if I told you that landscaping ideas on a budget for your backyard are now a thing, and it doesn’t actually cost a fortune to create your own slice of heaven outside your home?
Just like so many other DIY projects, landscaping on a budget is possible and there are so many tips and tricks you can use to save money. And there are so many materials you can work with, too: from the cheap to the expensive.
I’m as thrifty as they come and I am always trying to use DIY backyard ideas I find on the internet to spruce up my backyard on a small budget. So, buckle up as I guide you through an inspiring collection of images that will teach you how to landscape a yard on a budget.
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- 1 Spectacular Stepping Stones
- 2 Creative Containers
- 3 Hanging By a Moment
- 4 Terrific Towers
- 5 Exquisite Garden Beds
- 6 Rockin’ Rock Beds
- 7 The Minimum Is the New Maximum
- 8 Trees and Fences
- 9 Take It Outside
- 10 What Are The 7 Principles Of Landscape Design?
- 11 FAQs
- 12 Did You Like Our Backyard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget?
- 13 About The Author
Spectacular Stepping Stones
Natural Bamboo Wall
There’s something about stepping stones in a backyard that almost offers a book-like feel, as if you’re taking a mysterious path to a land of adventure.
For simpler yard landscaping ideas, I recommend pairing the pathway with a natural bamboo wall, it’s basically a complete fairytale picture. In my opinion, bamboo can also easily be replaced with Thuja Green Giants.
|Adds sense of adventure and mystery
|Depending on the size and layout may not be practical or feasible
Scatter the Pattern
If you’re looking for budget landscaping ideas for a small backyard, take note of this one: stepping stones backyard accompanied with bushy plants of your preference. I love it because any stone will blend in well with the lawn.
Front yard or backyard, it really doesn’t matter. Asymmetrical and staggered stepping stones with a natural lawn will give you a sense of balance yet elegance through its simplicity.
|Plants may require regular pruning and upkeep
|Adds a natural and serene look
A Piece Of Greece
The imposing elegance of these tall vases isn’t just aesthetically pleasing but also easy to obtain, despite budget restrictions. This is the design I’ve been trying to recreate in my front yard. The entire setup is reminiscent of a Santorini landscape, which can easily be recreated in your very own backyard.
|Impressive and elegant design
|May not fit with the overall style or theme of your yard
|Easy to obtain and recreate
If there’s anything that can give you that killer Punta Cana type of backyard look, it’s this floral/container/tiki torch combination. This is a wonderful combo that brings together earth, flowers, and fire and proves that you can make your yard look as amazing as you want.
|Combines different elements for a cohesive design
|Can be expensive
|Can be customized to fit preferences
Pots ‘N Plants
The next on my list is probably one of the easiest backyard landscape ideas that artfully combines potted trees and plants. Just look at these lemon trees in their big containers! What a stunning visual effect! Not only will this idea give your backyard a unique vibe, but it’s affordable and allows you to play with colors to give your outdoor space a dream-garden look.
|Requires frequent watering and fertilization
|Adds a unique vibe
|May take up space in the backyard
Affordable and appealing, check out this climbing potted plant idea that gives you an Instagrammable archway, so you can maximize the greenery in your backyard. I’ve been improving my gardening skills for years and still find this backyard idea a bit complex. So, if you’re a pro, go for it and make your neighbors jealous.
|Affordable and appealing
|May take time and effort to maintain
|Can be a fun DIY gardening project
Hanging By a Moment
Drops of Color
With a raised flower bed and a solid wooden fence, you can create a wonderful backyard setup that offers both privacy and relaxation. And when you add some hanging potted plants to the equation, you’re giving life to what would otherwise be just another wooden fence! I just love how well hanging greenery can fit into any design on my list; they are truly versatile.
|Raised flower beds add visual appeal
|Can be expensive to install
|Solid wooden fences offer privacy
I always feel excited when I talk about hanging flowers. The beauty of having them in your garden is that you don’t need to place them alongside a wall or a fence. As you can see in this image, you can get really creative with your plant supports. This idea gives those wooden posts that are lying around in your garage a meaningful purpose.
|Hanging flowers add beauty and color
|May attract pests like aphids or spider mites
|You can get creative with plant supports
|May not last long ore require regular maintenance
A small backyard fountain is another affordable trick that can create an elegant effect in any yard. Plant some succulents inside the fountain for an evergreen setup that’s bound to give your guests something to talk about at the next gathering.
|Affordable way to add elegance
|Can be costly to maintain
|Easy to maintain
|Can be customized to fit any style
Flower Tower Madness
Flower towers will never go out of style, and that’s not just because they are an affordable centerpiece for any yard. Instead of buying them, I managed to make them myself for fun. It’s pretty easy, and it can be a DIY project that can get the family together on a Saturday afternoon, resulting in something that everyone can take pride in.
|Requires regular maintenance
|Never go out of style
Exquisite Garden Beds
Setting The Stage
Elevated garden beds are another great way to landscape your backyard if you’re short on cash. I like to play around with different edging materials, as you see here. Wood makes a nice statement, but you can always use metal, brick, or even cobblestones.
|Can be customized to fit any backyard
|Require more water due to faster drainage
|Can extend the growing season
Miniature Herb Garden
Oh boy, this little project right here has got me super excited! It’s basically an elevated garden bed divided into sections that allow you to plant your favorite herbs and spices. All you really need are some wooden planks to create the edges and separate the sections and some good soil.
|Gives easy access to fresh herbs and spices
|Requires regular maintenance
|Saves space in small yards
Steep & Beautiful
Not going to lie: this elevated garden bed might be inexpensive, but building it involves a lot of elbow grease and hard work. It’s probably better left for those of you with an inclined yard. The only thing that’s missing here to make this scene picture-perfect is a man-made creek, flowing through the rocks.
|Inexpensive option for a garden bed
|Requires a lot of physical labor
|Can be a fun DIY project
Rockin’ Rock Beds
Do you see something in this picture that’s caught your eye, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Let me help you: it’s the rocks. Store-bought or collected from your journeys, rocks will always make the perfect landscaping material, be it for an improvised fountain or driveway edging according to our stone expert Christopher DeFeo.
|Durable and long-lasting
|May not be suitable for all types of landscaping styles
|Adds natural beauty
Here’s one more example of how rocks can complete your garden bed and add more personality and elegance to your landscaping. I usually use a low or flush metal edge to create an intricate border and fill it with pebbles.
|Can serve as a natural weed barrier
|Requires regular maintenance
Round & About
Decorating yards isn’t my only passion – I always scout for patio landscaping ideas on a budget. I like keeping simple yet attractive designs, just like this one.
I find white rocks magical. You can achieve a marble-like effect with them, making the corners of your yard look more elegant and expensive. Rounded stones give this patio a fine look, and the hidden floor lights will create playful shadows during nightfall.
|Easy to implement
|White rocks may be difficult to clean and maintain
|Creates an elegant and neat look
Bed of Rocks
If you have rocks and stones of different colors that you’d like to include in your landscaping project, this setup shows you how to do it. You can use the larger rocks around the edges, while filling in the gaps with smaller stones for a beautiful look.
It is also a great idea for covering up mud and dirt in your backyard as I wrote in one of my posts.
|Creates a beautiful landscape look
|Setup may take a lot of time and effort
|Can be used to cover dirt and mud in backyard
The Minimum Is the New Maximum
Out of a Fairytale
Even when you don’t have that much backyard space to work with, you can add trees in the corners of your garden or plant smaller ones to save space.
|Adds aesthetic appeal
|Trees may take years to grow and fully mature
|Trees provide shade
No Stress with Less
If it’s a minimalistic landscaping idea you’re into, you surely won’t exceed your backyard budget with this idea. A trimmed and healthy lawn is your best bet for keeping it simple while still offering yourself and your guests a corner where they can relax and enjoy the view.
|Requires regular maintenance
Trees and Fences
Elementary, My Dear Yard
A fresh green lawn, some plant beds along the edge of the fence, and some perfectly aligned trees for symmetry: this is what you get when you follow these simple backyard landscaping ideas on a budget.
|Plant beds add color and texture
|Landscaping can be expensive
|Aligned trees can add order and symmetry
You may think that this backyard design is very similar to the landscape ideas for fences I’ve mentioned earlier. However, its minimalistic beauty differentiates it from the rest.
Bookmark this page if you want to save some backyard space but still create an amazing landscape for less money. You can plant your favorite flowers at the base of the trees or simply let the lawn do its magic.
|Minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing design
|Limited options for plant placement
Take It Outside
Hot Summer Nights
It’s amazing what a large impact a few throw pillows can make in any backyard gathering spot. You can purchase affordable outdoor furniture or repurpose and revamp that old couch in the garage by adding a bunch of throw pillows. Landscaping on a budget doesn’t have to be a headache.
|Throw pillows add a pop of color and personality
|May require more maintenance and cleaning if used frequently
|Affordable way to update your backyard decor
A Trip Down Romance Lane
Lights are super inexpensive and available in a lot of different home improvement stores and throw pillows are so easy to make, you can do it yourself on a lazy weekend afternoon.
|Can be a fun DIY project
|Require some level of skill and creativity
|Easy to find materials in home improvement stores
Did you know that you can make your own outdoor wooden swing in one day and enjoy the results for a long time to come? I haven’t seen a better landscaping option than this one. I always bring up the idea of a swing whenever somebody wants peace and quiet in their own backyard.
|Provides a relaxing and enjoyable outdoor space
|It requires time, effort, and skill to build
|Can add value to your home
What’s not to love about having your favorite outdoor living room seating spot nestled under the dark, starry sky? If this firepit looks too fancy for you, you can always replace it with an outdoor coffee table, the perfect spot for your glass of red wine.
|Creates a cozy and inviting outdoor living space
|Great for outdoor entertaining
What Are The 7 Principles Of Landscape Design?
Thanks to an article written by David Whiting, an Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist at Colorado State University, and Jeffry De Jong, a horticulturist from Canada, I found out there are 7 interconnected principles of landscape design you must adhere to if you wish to create a practical and pleasing outdoor living space.
So, what are the 7 principles of landscape design? I have made a simple list for you:
Unity Or Oneness
Unity is when everything works together. It is achieved by connecting all the outdoor areas by building paths, stairs, and fences.
Repetition is a crucial part of unity, as long as you do not overdo it. You can also stress one focal point in your outdoor space and build your design around it – this is called dominance. For example, I based my design around a large tree in my yard.
As I learned from Whiting and de Jong, every outdoor space should have a storyline, too.
The storyline shows what the owners want to feel or do when they spend time in their outdoor space and what they want to communicate to others. For example, my garden is a place where I can relax, while my neighbors created an active playground for their kids. A space without a storyline is not a design but rather a mix of plants, decorations, and outdoor furniture.
Scale & Proportion
According to Dave Garcia, owner of DPG Pavers and winner of the gold medal at the renowned San Francisco Flower & Garden show, the size of your space and the elements you use in your landscape design should be proportioned. In this regard, the big tree I was telling you about is not good since it draws too much attention from the rest of my garden.
As I read in a guide to sustainable landscaping in Santa Clara County, every element you use in your landscape design carries a certain visual weight. Finding balance means making sure this weight feels even throughout your outdoor space. There are two ways to do this:
- Formal balance (symmetrical) – when both sides mirror each other.
- Informal balance (asymmetrical) – when sides look different but carry equal visual weight.
I prefer the latter since it creates a more vivid space.
“Less is more” worked for my interior design, so why wouldn’t it work for my landscape design? Simplicity can be highly effective, suggests the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook. It points out that you should not struggle to fill every inch of the space. Instead, try prioritizing and creating a simple design with simple lines for a clean look and safe environment. This kind of space will be easier to maintain too!
The already-mentioned Dave Garcia explains that variety means using elements of different sizes and shapes. The goal is to create visual interest. If you overdo it, you will forfeit simplicity and risk having a hectic garden, like one of my neighbors.
According to the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute, emphasis serves to spark interest and help focus attention on a dominant aspect of landscape design. You can accentuate parts of your design by using a splash of color, interesting texture, or a particular form. I vote for some crazy colors!
Sequence Or Transition
Kimberly Toscano and Michael V. Holmes from Oklahoma State University explain that sequence is a transition from one area in your outdoor space to another. If two areas have a similar scale, it is best to make a gradual transition to avoid ruining the harmony. If they are very different in scale (a small, confined space vs. a large, open space), you can make an abrupt transition (door, gate, or hedge).
If you’re having trouble understanding these 7 principles, try watching a great video I found:
Is there a free app to design landscape?
There is a free app to design your landscape. If you have an Apple device, I suggest trying iScape, since it was of great help to me. Android users should check out the PRO Landscape Home app (available for iOS users too).
Can you just lay pavers on grass?
You can just lay the pavers on the grass, but there is a great possibility that they will sink and become uneven over time. It is thus far better to create a stable base for them to sit on, as confirmed by Western Interlock, a reputable paving stone supply company.
What is the least expensive landscaping material?
The least expensive landscaping material is foliage, especially if you trade plants with your neighbors like I do.
Did You Like Our Backyard Landscaping Ideas on a Budget?
What did you think of my round-up of inexpensive landscaping ideas for backyard? As you can see, redesigning your backyard on a budget isn’t all that complicated. I, for one, am guilty of keeping bits and pieces of material and old stuff that I think I won’t need.
But, as long as you put your imagination to good use, these seemingly useless items (like garden sculptures) can really add some style to your backyard projects.
What’s the strangest household item you’ve used in a landscaping project? Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know, and if you think this piece might be useful to someone you know, feel free to pass it on!