How to Get a Landscape You Love … for Less!

Upgrading your landscaping can seem like a daunting and expensive task, but there are ways to cut corners financially without sacrificing style or quality. Whether you’re hoping to cultivate a garden that’s the envy of the neighborhood or put together a backyard space that’s ripe for alfresco entertaining, these simple tips can help you save money on the most common outdoor improvements.

Redo your deck economically

Even if your wooden deck has taken a beating, you may be able to bring it back to life for a small cost. First, survey the structure, giving particular attention to posts, stair stringers, and ground-level joists as well as spots where the deck meets the house – screws and bolts there may need tightening or replacing. Swap out any boards ruined by rot or mold, and tap down any popped nails on healthy boards.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

You’ll be amazed at what a good cleaning can do. Once you’ve made repairs, give the deck a scrub down with a DIY solution of one quart household bleach and 1/3 cup powdered laundry detergent mixed into three quarts of warm water. Hose off the solution thoroughly to reveal a sparkling, like-new surface.

To finish, experts agree that a semitransparent stain is the best choice for enhancing and protecting old wood.

Don’t get fleeced on fencing

A good fence is a must for privacy and keeping kids and pets safe. But it can be costly; materials alone can run about $ 14 per linear foot for select grade picket fence board.

Because installation requires specific tools and a certain degree of experience, fencing isn’t generally advised as a do-it-yourself project. That said, determined homeowners can save considerably if they tear out the old fence themselves.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

New fencing prices are largely dictated by material, so figure out what best suits your needs and your budget; you may find that a less expensive model still gives you the results you’re looking for. If an existing fence is still solid but looks a bit shabby, simply apply a fresh coat of paint à la Tom Sawyer to spruce it up.

Why pay a lot for plants?

Greenery and flowers are the distinctive touches that make a yard yours. To crunch cash on trees, shrubs, and plants (not to mention soil and mulch), buy late in the season. Peruse the selection at big-box stores where prices are low; just be sure to inspect plants closely, as they may not receive as much TLC as they would at a nursery.

Invest in perennials, which come up year after year – at no extra cost. And don’t forget about the plants you can get for free: Organize a garden swap in your neighborhood or ask for cuttings from friends’ yards. Simply snip from areas of new growth, and get these cuttings potted and amply watered as soon as possible.

Pinch pennies on your patio

A patio redo needn’t cost a fortune. First, take a hard look at your concrete: If the structure is sound, a beat-up appearance can be easily rectified with concrete paint, which comes in a host of colors. Paint on a checkerboard, do it up in stripes, or create a border to frame your furniture. Starting from scratch? Consider devoting some yard space to easy-care pavers, which are fairly economical to buy and install (as little as $ 4 per square foot for pro placement).

Courtesy of Big Picture Landscapes.

Courtesy of Big Picture Landscapes.

Then, furnish your new or existing outdoor retreat inexpensively by signing up for steals on websites like DealCatcher, or by browsing Craigslist, eBay, or garage and yard sales for gently used bargains. If you have furniture already but it’s a little outdated, give it a quick update by sanding metal frames and applying a fresh coat of spray paint. Complete the makeover with some new weather-resistant cushions and a patio umbrella.

Curate a bargain garden gallery

Never underestimate the power of creativity! Dollar store dishes can become a towering birdbath, while flea market containers can transform into one-of-a-kind flowerpots. Before buying new – or even just new to you – always look to what you have and see if it can be reused in a different and interesting way.

An old dresser, for example, can become a potting bench for all your garden goodies, or an unused cart can become a mobile grill station. Use some caution, though, as you don’t want your space to start looking like a junkyard. Make sure everything you display adds value and enhances the overall aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve.

With a little thought – and not a lot of money – you can upgrade your outdoors beautifully. Let your imagination be your guide!

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