Landscaping: Inexpensive Landscaping Ideas


© 2007 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

Want to Landscape YOUR Yard Inexpensively?


"Nature calls one to believe the landscape as it exists can be perfection without alteration, and the mind is influenced by the smallest detail, including the presence of wildlife."



To hire a professional landscaper may be the dream of many people, but financial reality has a tendency to temper wishes and initiate a search for less expensive ideas. Anyone can create a landscape using a custom landscaper and unlimited budget, but creativity, imagination, and common sense can go a long way toward successfully landscaping the projects of ordinary homeowners on a limited budget .

Here are some thoughts on inexpensive landscaping ideas that may contribute to the success and curb appeal of even the smallest landscape developed with minimal cost.

Trees: Natural Beauty and Focal Interest

Trees are relatively inexpensive, yet they offer a wonderful diversity in colour, incredible beauty, and stature. They may start out small and take a while to become mature and majestic, but center-piece trees can make a huge contribution to the focal success of your landscaping plan.

Think smaller, spring-flowering trees to take an eye-catching advantage of the season. Available flowering trees include cherry trees, lilacs that may be white, pink or purple, and flowering crab apple trees that come in both white and pink blooms. Some flowering crab apples have highly coloured leaves. Further south, try catalpa, citrus, and magnolia trees.

Excellent trees for autumn colours include white paper birch, sugar maple, red maple, red oak, beech, poplars, and silver maples. For all trees, keep in mind geographical location required for hardiness. Take advantage of indigenous species that will thrive in your location and weather conditions.

There are unique trees with elegant, distinguished characteristics, such as the common Weeping Willow, and for more temperate areas, exotic flowering specimens such as the Waterer Laburnum, (Laburnum x watereri), also called "the golden chain" tree, which develops cascades of golden flowers perhaps equaled only by the beauty of flowers displayed by showy, elegant shrubs such as the Snowball bush and Wisteria .

For cooler areas, Forsythia, Potentilla, Caragana and old heritage rose bushes should also be considered, with trellises established for climbing roses, if you wish to create an elegant old-world look and focal point.

Bushes may not only hide ugly fences, they can reshape your yard completely. Use ball Cedar and Boxwood for accent topiary, specially shaped bushes, and hedges for accent, delineation, and backdrop for flower beds.


Flowers and Ground Cover Selection:

Get perennials! Perennial flowers and ground-cover plants spread by themselves and create a mini-environment that requires minimal maintenance. Peonies, Day lilies, creeping phlox, ivies, verbena, Black-eyed Susans,   Lupines, bearded Iris, are all elegant. Moisture and shade-loving Hostas and Lily of the Valley spread between large, mossy rocks, and rich green mosses themselves will thrive beautifully if there is deep shade and adequate moisture.

When developing flowerbeds, concentrate many specimens of the same flower together for a spectacular show, and do consider the blooming dates of alternate beds of flowers to ensure a continuous display all season. To save money, learn how to propagate your own plants and flowers; for example, pick the seeds from the many varieties of marigolds in the fall, and plant them directly in the spring. They will do as well as any garden center bedding plants .

Consider using free-standing arches and wall trellis structures for climbers such as showy Clematis, roses, and ivies. Grapevines, many of which are spectacular, can create a shady area over a patio, and provide delicious fruit at the same time.


Consider the Xeriscape Escape; Freedom from Watering:

In modern trends to water conservation, Xeriscapes are drought-tolerant landscapes that use the natural, water-conserving characteristics of native species as a foundation for a beautiful yard. A xeriscape can be the best of the wilds in suburbia, even the home of butterflies and insect-eating birds. Peace, serenity, and gentle sun is offered, with no irrigation or watering. Elegant, tall, wild and native grasses, a wildflower garden of warm-season varieties that blooms profusely. Use sedum, juniper, cactii, potentilla, succulents, and deeply planted bulbs for flowers. For dry-weather landscaping, avoid excessive pruning and trimming of hedges and topiary, which demands water.

Don't forget the lawn! Even a tiny, perfect, lawn of drought-resistant grasses within the centre of a monolithic xeriscape of stones, pebbles, cacti or wildflower garden patches can be an outstanding contrast and a landscaping feature in itself.


Bird attractions:

The perception of landscaping may be more important at times than actually moving rocks, trees and building complex designs with stone paving. Nature calls one to believe the landscape as it exists can be perfection without alteration, and the mind is influenced by the smallest detail, including the presence of wildlife.

The varieties of birds you can attract to your gardens are endless and exotic. Hang hummingbird feeders to attract those amazing, tiny birds. The same hummingbirds come back every year and nest in the same location, and their darting   in and out of the wildflowers is a wonderful focal attraction, if not landscaping in the true sense.

Bird houses and feeders can swing from trees, or can be free-standing on top of a post. Make bird houses from silvered, ancient barn boards, old lumber, or hollowed out gourds. Paint some brightly with harmless, water-based exterior paints. Consider bluebird houses, which must be built to specification, and how about a purple martin hotel on a tall pole?

Don't forget the bird-bath. Birds are a natural attraction and an essential part of your landscape all year!


Accessorize with the Unique!

An old wagon wheel, a painted relic of the past, supported by natural stone or old timbers, or an antique cast iron gate covered with ivies, --even standing open in the middle of the lawn, may invite one to explore older, pioneer times in the mind. A simple walkway enclosed with topiary, flower beds on fire with tiger lilies, day lilies, white and pink peonies, and even plots of the the ever-so-humble common white daisy evoke elegance. A cleaned, bleached tree stump complete with big roots, standing on it's side is an elegant display one of the clever designs of nature. Plant ivies or other climbers to provide eye appeal and contrast, and place a bird bath and feeder close at hand to keep birds in the yard.

Want a bridge, but have no stream, pond or river? No problem. A simple wooden bridge that goes nowhere may be the answer. Perhaps it arches elegantly over a dry, thick row of smoothed river rocks and pebbles set neatly in a shallow swale that has a planting of verbena, ground-hugging ivies or stream of flowers. A wicker bench or simple homestead brush furniture may be an invitation to cross the bridge and sit in peace on the other side. Perception and persuasion of the mind can be everything.



Open weave, basket weave, split rail, or old-fashioned simple white picket; the variety of fencing that can be beautiful in their simplicity is amazing. Contrary to popular opinion, fences may not always be to keep the physical body out, but to allow the concentration of the emotional mind within; a reminder of the beauty of the immediate, with simplicity being the path to peace of mind and contentment.


Rocks, Walkways, and Structures.

Natural stone , the larger the better, can be used to accent spaces and draw the eye to a centrepiece, or if massive enough, may be the main attraction by itself. Elegant, creative stacking of irregular limestone pieces may be a wonderful backdrop for brilliant blossoms.

Use smoothed, flattened  natural rocks or old bricks to make gently curving pathways, or slice a large tree-trunk into round or oval stepping-stones to make an organic walkway that invites one to explore. For eye appeal, plant mosses between the stepping-stones.

Install cedar "monkey-posts" of different heights in a group, and install the stationary version of hanging baskets full of trailing flowers.

Build a compost bin of logs using log-building techniques reminiscent of the 1800's instead of using one constructed of modern, non-inspirational plastic.


Other Possibilities:

The "other possibilities" category of landscaping is huge and limited only by your imagination. Include dry stone or timber retaining walls for multi-level sites, dry-laid stone walls built with free, natural stone, small, raised patios and flagstone walkways. Create statuary that can be made out of the most mundane articles. In rural areas, ancient horse-drawn farm equipment may be used as a heritage focal point, a reminder of agricultural roots.

Do not forget accent articles, keeping in mind that at times, less is more. A rustic garden bench built of rough timbers, a swing, and accent items are all invitations to enjoy, but do avoid the common temptation to install too many small articles such as swans, gnomes, or lawn figures in one area, which may be ultimately suggest clutter.


Waterworks:  Water offers Universal Appeal

Dig a two-inch wide trench and bury an inexpensive plastic tube to feed a little pond, and make allowances to drain the line and pond for the winter.
Small lily-ponds can be installed inexpensively using plastic liners to hold water even in the most porous soils, and a pond introduces an endless list of possibilities of tiny waterfalls, fountains, lily pads, water plants, goldfish, koi, and elements of the far east including bonsai, moss gardens, and the essence of feng shui, the art of designing the environment to evoke peace, harmony and well-being.

Use accent lighting and stark, simple lines to guide the eye; use the now-popular solar garden lamps to accent walkways and also provide safety at night. Hang wind chimes to add sounds to your creation. Your home is your castle.

Landscape with an open, creative mind, and the landscaping of the environment around you shall be simple, peaceful, and can even be inexpensive.


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