How can I spruce up the outside of my home without spending a lot of money?
Real Mom Problem
“Do you do any landscaping? How do you do it inexpensively?”
- 1. Take on only a few projects at once to save time and money
- 2. Choose inexpensive plants that spread well
- 3. Ask friends and family for clippings that you can plant in your own yard
- 4. Fill empty yard space for free with attractive rocks found on the side of the road
- 5. Try trimming plants, adding mulch, and making other small changes that can have a big impact
- 6. Keep landscaping simple and do most of the work yourself
Real Mom Solutions
Want to give the outside of your home a polished look without having to pay a pro? Get easy and inexpensive landscaping tips from the moms of CafeMom!
Our Expert Mom Says...
What makes a home have curb appeal is a clean, tidy appearance. This means healthy plants, clean lines of careful landscaping, and a bit of complimentary color to make your home look unique.
Keep clutter and overgrown plants from taking over your yard. Trim back spent flowers, mow the grass regularly, and add ground cloth or a thick layer of mulch to all the difficult areas of your yard. This also keeps weeds from growing in tight spots that are hard to access with a mower, or trimmer.
Container plants are an excellent way to add all of the above. Your local nursery would be happy to help you choose plants that will look great together, and thrive in your growing area. Don't be afraid to clearly let them know your budget, and they will show you plants that will fit. Use the greenhouse employee's skills, and ask for some design help!
Save even more money by reusing your pots and refilling them yourself. Many nurseries will pot up an arrangement for you, but they are usually just as happy to show you how. You will have to use fresh potting soil each year, but the pot can be recycled.
Finally, use a pretty pot that is stationary, and find a second pot that drops inside of it. Then, as the season changes, you simply lift the inner pot of plants, and replace with a fresh arrangement. A secret that hotels often use to keep their gardens looking immaculate is to have a pot in a pot, to easily replace plants that aren't doing well.
The outside of your house can look well put together with a little planning and maintenance, while staying within any budget.
Amy Jeanroy is a Master Gardener and community herbalist living in Northern Maine. She grows her own food, flowers, and herbs as much as possible and loves to share her knowledge. Keep up with Amy and her garden adventures at thefarmingwife.com.
The Moms of CafeMom Say...
Do you live in the country? Take a ride down any country road, and dig up whatever looks nice. I do this all the time. Seriously.
When you see an electric truck clearing lines, pull over and ask the guy to dump the mulch at your house...then mulch around your flowers. It's free! Do you have friends or family with bulbs (lilies, irises, etc.)? They may be willing to let you divide theirs. Lilly of the valley spreads well. If you drive around in the country you will see rocks and stones in farmers' fields. Rocks are great because they don't die, they fill space, and they're free. They usually look pretty nice.
Look for plants on Craigslist. People often want to get rid of stuff; you just have to dig it up.
You can ask neighbors for clippings of plants you like. Last year I redid my front yard - it was around $300 because I had to replace all the mulch. This year I only spent $90, mainly on containers and to replace the annuals I bought last year. It's amazing what just trimming the dogwood, moving the birdbath, and changing the mulch did. You can also just buy cheap flowers, like petunias. They spread like wildfire and come in a variety of colors.
I plant knockout roses. They seem to withstand the Texas dry heat better than others. I found them on sale for $8 each.
We do ALL of our own landscaping and have managed to do it pretty affordably. My tips:
- I took a landscaping class for about $35 through the adult school. It was six weeks long and taught by a landscape architect. I drew our back yard and planned out every section with an idea. It was nice to have an overall plan so that everything we do is working with what we WANT to do in the future.
- Plan ahead and research - YouTube has videos for EVERYTHING now, and so do Lowes/Home Depot websites. They will tell you all of the supplies you need and the order that you need to do things in... so you don't miss a step and have re-work (re-work = wasted money).
- Be a good shopper - I visit high-end places to get ideas then look for similar items at discount stores, on clearance, or in resale shops. (Look for the Habitat for Humanity Resale shop near you for home remodeling... it is hit and miss but the good deals are GREAT.)
- Buy local - The local nurseries and pottery shops near me do more sales and clearance items and are more likely to offer a discount if you make a large purchase or pay cash. Some things are cheaper at the big box stores so shop around.
- Do-It-Yourself - Pavers, fire pits, gardens, ponds, planting, fountains...can all be done yourself following pretty basic instructions.
- Discounts - Many places offer a discount to military or contractors, if you are paying cash and know someone that qualifies for a discount well enough to ask them to shop with you, then do it.
- Spread it out - If you cannot afford to do everything at once, then complete small sections at a time. If it is something that doesn't need to match, then buy a few at a time. Say you need 100 blocks that cost $4 each.... if you can't do $400 all at once, then do 10 at a time over a few months until you have all you need.
- Low maintenance - Select items (pavers, furniture, plants, everything) that will last many years so you don't have to replace it often. This will mean that you can afford to do new projects every year and after a few years everything you want should come together.
Mulch is pretty cheap and can do wonders. If you get a few bushes, maybe rhododendrons, and some nice mulch that really stands out, it will look great! You can try to find some good size rocks too. Maybe you can get the kids to paint some rocks for your garden. Google "rock gardens" and you will find some good ideas. Then you can add plants if your budget changes.
I've done a lot of landscaping on my little property. My method of keeping it cheap was to 1.) DIY (which includes tons of reading) 2.) Skip all the fancy trimming 3.) Be patient and do a little bit at a time.