Senior Resources » 11 Thrifty Landscaping Hacks That Don’t Look Cheap

11 Thrifty Landscaping Hacks That Don’t Look Cheap

Rockery in the garden with stones and variety of different flowers and plants, rock landscaping
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Looking to spruce up your landscaping but worried about spending too much money? Retirees need not worry! Creating a beautiful outdoor space doesn’t have to drain your bank account. With a little creativity and planning, you can transform your yard into a stunning oasis without breaking the bank. Here are 11 thrifty landscaping ideas that will make your neighbors green with envy.


1. Go Native

black-eyed susans, close up
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A plant is considered native if it has a history of growing in a particular region without human introduction. Choosing native plants over exotic ones for your landscape adds more natural-looking beauty and also reduces maintenance and watering costs. How? Native plants are already adapted to the local climate. This means they’re generally used to growing on their own where you live, so they’ll require less care. has a native plant database where you can find all the best plants for your particular area!

2. DIY Mulching

hands fluffing mulch
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Mulching is an easy and affordable way to add instant curb appeal and minimize maintenance. Spread it around your flower beds and tree bases to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Head to your local garden center and grab a few bags. The average price of mulch is only $2 to $5.50 per bag!


3. Repurpose and Upcycle

flower garden in painted tires
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Get creative and repurpose items lying around your house or from flea markets and garage sales. Transform old wooden pallets into vertical planters, use crates as plant containers, or turn discarded tires into colorful flower beds. By giving new life to old objects, you can save hundreds while adding personality to your landscape! Here are some more upcycle ideas to get you started:

Vertical Pallet Gardens: Repurpose old wooden pallets into vertical planters for herbs, flowers, or even vegetables. Flea markets and construction sites are good places to find free or cheap pallets.

Crate Creations: Turn wooden crates into charming plant containers. Paint them or stain them to match your style, and use them to house trailing plants, succulents, or small flowering bushes. Look for crates at garage sales or thrift stores.

Tire Terrariums: Breathe new life into old tires by transforming them into vibrant and creative flower beds. Paint the tires in cheerful colors and arrange them in a playful pattern. You can often find used tires for free on community boards or from tire repair shops.


By upcycling these everyday items, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll also add a touch of personality and charm to your outdoor space.

4. Grow from Seeds

planting from seeds
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Skip the expensive nursery plants and start growing from seeds. You’ll be amazed at the variety and cost savings that come from nurturing your plants from the very beginning. Plus, watching them grow from tiny seeds into flourishing plants will give you a much larger sense of accomplishment!

5. Rocks Rock!

landscape rocks
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Incorporating rocks into your landscape design can add texture, depth, and a touch of Zen. This tip is so thrifty, it can even be free! You can collect rocks from around your property, from the woods, or ask neighbors if they have any lying around. Create a rock garden, build a rock pathway, or use them as decorative accents around your flower beds. This will add so much organic, natural beauty to your outdoor space too!

6. Make Homemade Compost

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Skip the expensive store-bought fertilizers and create your own nutrient-rich compost to nurture your plants! Composting is a fantastic way to reduce waste and save money, while creating a healthy soil amendment for your garden or houseplants. Here’s what you can compost:

  • Kitchen Scraps:
    • Fruit and vegetable peels (except citrus peels in large quantities)
    • Coffee grounds and tea bags (remove staples first)
    • Eggshells (crushed)
    • Nutshells (crushed)
  • Yard Waste:
    • Grass clippings (in moderation to avoid nitrogen overload)
    • Leaves
    • Shredded prunings from trees and bushes
  • Houseplant Scraps (for indoor composting):
    • Coffee grounds
    • Eggshells (crushed)
    • Tea bags (remove staples first)
    • Banana peels (chopped)

7. Use Solar Lights

edison lights on outdoor patio
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Outdoor lighting can transform your landscape into a magical wonderland, but it can come with a hefty cost! Opt for solar-powered lights. They’re eco-friendly and super cost-effective. Strategically place them along walkways, around trees, or near your favorite outdoor sitting area to create a warm and inviting ambiance. We LOVE these solar-powered Edison lights!

8. DIY Garden Accents

DIY garden accents
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Who needs expensive store-bought decorations when you can unleash your creativity and craft your own unique touches for your outdoor space? Here are some easy DIY projects to add personality to your landscape, all without breaking the bank:

Terracotta: Breathe new life into plain terracotta pots with a splash of color! Paint them in cheerful hues, create patterned designs, or write inspirational messages.

Recycled Wind Chimes: Craft melodic wind chimes using everyday discards. Upcycle old keys, bottle caps, or even seashells into tinkling chimes strung on fishing line or twine. Hang them from trees or shepherd’s hooks to create a whimsical soundscape for your garden.

Build a birdhouse from scrap wood! Old fence boards, pallets, or leftover lumber can be transformed into a welcoming haven for feathered friends.

Don’t toss those empty mason jars! They can be transformed into beautiful hanging terrariums, solar lights (with fairy lights inside!), or even painted and used as colorful candle holders.

Paint colorful designs on smooth stones. These can be used to create a decorative rock garden border, or scattered around your flower beds for a pop of color and whimsy.

Fairy Tale Lanterns: Turn old tin cans into magical lanterns. Punch holes with a hammer and nail (with adult supervision!), paint them in whimsical colors, and add tea lights or fairy lights inside for an enchanting nighttime glow.


9. Consider Lawn Alternatives

clover lawn
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Consider alternatives to traditional grass lawns to save on maintenance and water bills. How? Plant a clover lawn. Clover requires less water, fertilizer, and maintenance. Plus, it’s naturally pest-resistant! Just be careful, because clover tends to stain clothes easier.

10. Define Your Spaces

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Creating defined outdoor spaces can give your landscape a high-end feel without the high-end price. Use inexpensive materials like gravel, pavers, or wooden pallets to section off and define different areas in your backyard like dining space or seating. This will also add some more functionality to your yard!

11. Plant Perennials

backyard trees
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Perennials come back year after year. While they may cost a bit more upfront, they’ll save you money in the long run since you won’t have to buy new plants every season. Choose a variety of perennials that bloom at different times to enjoy a vibrant landscape throughout the year. Bonus points if you plant perennials that are native (psst! Tip number1)!

Thrifty Landscaping Tips That Don’t Look Cheap

spring garden
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Creating a stunning landscape on a budget is all about thinking outside the box, repurposing materials, and embracing your DIY spirit. So, grab your gardening gloves and unleash your creativity!

Looking for More Thrifty Tips?

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Originally published May 29, 2024


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