Whether you're renting a little cottage, just moved into the house of your dreams or are looking to sell a home you've outgrown, boosting the curb appeal of your house is always a good idea. So, how you can landscape your front yard for cheap... but make it look like a million bucks? In this article, we'll offer up seven tried-and-true font yard landscaping ideas on a budget.
From inexpensive plants, ambient lighting and cute garden decor, it's easy to landscape your front garden without breaking the bank! Beautiful perennials, cheap pond kids and solar-powered string lights make budget landscape design easy and fun.
Still, for truly breathtaking front yard landscaping, you'll have to do a bit of planning. That's why we've searched high and low for the seven best front yard landscaping ideas on a budget. Try one, try two, or try 'em all. Whatever you decide, beautifying your yard is always a smart investment.
You might also be interested in our article on the 12 Best Garden Decor Ideas for 2021.
1. Figure out what landscaping to get rid of
The first step to cheap landscaping isn't adding, but subtracting. You heard that right! Landscaping is an art, and restraint is an important part of the practice. Carefully removing anything in your front yard that fails to "spark joy" is a great way to give yourself a blank slate to decorate.
Start by surveying your front yard morning, noon and night. What do you love, and what do you hate? Is there any particular element to your yard's landscaping (or design, or decor) that seems out of place, in poor condition or just plain ugly? If so, make a note of it it.
Of course, deciding what to remove from your front yard isn't always so black and white. There may be gorgeous elements that do not work for your space for one reason or another. For example, you may love the flower beds your home's previous owner added, but you may not have the time or budget to maintain them. If you can't keep those flowers in tip-top shape, see if a neighbor wants to repot them in her yard instead. You can then pick out a more resilient, budget-friendly plant instead.
Pro tip: if you choose to get rid of something, you don't necessarily need to trash it. Offer unwanted goods to local donation centers, your children's school, or check out your local Buy Nothing group's Facebook page.
2. Set a realistic budget
Okay, so setting a budget isn't really an idea, per se--but it's a necessity. Determining how much you'd like to spend on your front yard landscaping ensures you can transform the front of your house without overspending. (You don't want an unfinished yard, that's for sure!)
If you've never done much landscaping, then you probably have no idea how much adding hedges, potting plants, shopping for perennials or even adding a hose holder costs. To help you budget better, make a list of everything you'd like to do, then research the costs online or by chatting with your neighbors or gardener. Keep in mind that your actual costs may be higher or lower, depending on where you live and how much work you take on yourself.
Once you've gotten a rough idea of how much it'll cost you to do everything you like, decide how much money you want to spend on your project. Then, separate your wish list into four columns: (1) must do now, (2) would like to do now, (3) can do later, and (4) maybe some day.
Your budget should absolutely accommodate everything in column one, and hopefully some ideas in column 2. If your budget is smaller, columns 3 and 4 may have to wait, but that's okay. Keep in mind that sometimes the most important landscaping projects are both very unglamorous and quite expensive, like installing sprinkler systems ($2,000 - $4,000 dollars) or laying artificial turf ($3,000 - $10,000).
3. Forgo artificial turf in favor of rocks, mulch or alternative grasses
Many people believe that by installing artificial turf in their front yards, they'll save money on water and landscaping costs. But for most budget DIYers, turf is prohibitively expensive.
Artificial grass, commonly known as turf, is an extremely low-maintenance and increasingly-popular alternative to traditional grass. Well-constructed, high-quality turf is easy on the eye, has natural variation and looks a lot like grass. It's also very expensive. Cheaper turf looks more like waxy, green carpet than grass.
When it comes to turf, you really do get what you pay for.
According to Angie's list, there are four main benefits to laying artificial turf. It's low-maintenance, it looks great year round in every part of your yard, you won't spend money on mowing, fertilizing or watering, and it's environmentally-friendly.
Still, even with all these benefits, you may not save money laying turf. How could that be, you might be thinking. After all, you Googled the cost of artificial grass and it's around $2 a square foot! Well, installation is very difficult for the average person to do... and having turf installed professionally is expensive, around $5 a square foot in larger cities.
A good turf install could last you up to two decades, but shoddy work could have to be redone in a year or two, at best. Most experts agree that it could take up to five years to break even on professionally installing artificial turf. So, if you're planning on moving, selling or renting your home out soon, you might want to stick with grass or look for other alternatives, like these:
One option: rocks! Rocks cost about $140 per ton. To cover 100 square feet with 3" of rocks will cost about $150 if you do the work yourself. Installing turf to cover those same 100 square feet could cost over $1,000.
Another option: mulch! While you wouldn't use mulch everywhere, you can use it to frame flower beds, fountains, walkways and other focal points in your front yard. And, you won't have to break the bank! A bag of mulch covers 8 square feet and costs less than $5. That means you could much 100 square feet of your yard for about $60, and probably even less.
Finally, if you're craving a ton of greenery in your front yard, there are plenty of lower-maintenance, lower-cost alternatives for you to consider. No-mow options like a meadow of wildflowers or fields of chamomile are great landscaping ideas that are romantic, charming and easy to maintain.
4. Create focal points with plants and flowers that thrive where you live
Live in Palm Springs but love lush, tropical gardens? Live in Miami but crave an English garden? If you're looking for front yard landscaping ideas on a budget, you may be better off sticking with plants that thrive locally.
The best way to to gather front yard landscaping ideas that'll work well in your own yard is by taking a walk around the neighborhood. Pay special attention to homes that share the same orientation as yours. Those front yards can give you a ton of inspiration, and also reveal what plants thrive with the same sun exposure your front yard offers.
Hardiness Zone Maps
Image Source: USDA
If you look for plant inspiration online, verify the plant you choose is a fit for your gardening zone. After all, it's hard to boost your curb appeal (or not blow your budget) if you're constantly replacing dead plants.
Not sure what a gardening zone is? The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Hardiness Zone Map divides the country into 11 zones based on temperature, rainfall and other year-round conditions. You can view the map below, or read more about it on the USDA's website.
While what you plant in your front yard is entirely up to you, here are some landscaping ideas for your flower beds that won't break the bank.
Catmint offers a grayish-green stem and vibrant, lavender blooms. A member of the mint family, this unfussy, natural-looking plant is perfect for cottage-inspired, shabby chic or farmhouse-style homes. Catmint is a perennial that quickly grows to be about 1 to 2 feet tall. It's also inexpensive, making it one of the best plants for budget DIY landscaping in zones 4 to 8.
Queen Anne's Lace
A little frilly and a little fancy, Queen's Anne's Lace is cheap, sweet and great at taking up all that space in front of the house. Plus, it thrives in zones 1 through 10, making it one of the best landscaping ideas for almost all DIYers.
Inexpensive, universally beloved and virtually indestructible, lavender is one of the most popular and versatile perennials you can plant in your front yard. It's perfect for any landscape, flower bed, walkway or yard in zones 5 to 9.
5. Add unique garden decor to your landscaping
Decorating your front yard with charming garden decor is a simple, inexpensive way to boost the curb appeal of your home. No matter what your budget, adding a nice wind chime, rain chain or garden stake to your front yard landscaping is always a good idea.
Here are some of our favorites, how to pick them, where to buy them, and where to place them.
Wind chimes are actually percussion instruments, but they're played by the wind, not a person. Hang these beauties from your front porch, a mature oak or a simple awning to add a sense of peace and harmony to any outdoor space.
You can buy a wind chime almost anywhere, but if you want something truly unique, you may have to look a little harder. Our Happy Gardens wind chime collection is a great place to start, because you'll find options very different than what you'd see in big-box stores.
If you're looking for a wind chime that goes with every kind of outdoor space, our Birds with Bells Wind Chime is one of our best-selling items. Its simple, flamed metal finish complements all front yard landscaping, and looks especially good near plants or a flower bed.
Rain chains are another one of our favorite budget DIY landscaping ideas. Rain chains, which originated in Japan, boost curb appeal while moving rainwater from gutters to drains or decorative basins. A win-win!
Rain chains are artfully displayed just about everywhere from famed botanical gardens to humble little cottages. Why not find one that suits your taste and add it the front of the house? After all, most rain chains in the Happy Gardens collection are between $40 and $80, offering a whole lot of character for not so much cash.
While there are many styles of rain chains to choose from, our classic lily cup rain chain is also a whimsical choice.
Garden stakes are great front yard landscaping ideas on a budget. They add character, color and complexity to even a small front yard. The style and design you choose--eclectic or traditional--is entirely up to you. Place them in a flower bed, stake them in mulch, or use them to easily define a grassy area.
Our beautiful collection of front yard statues and sculptures look great year round, especially in colder months when flowers do not bloom. From cute animals, like our best-selling dog river stone garden statue, to more modern pieces like our red feather wind spinner, we know you'll find a design that's perfect for your project... and your budget!
6. Install a pond or bird bath
Of all the front yard landscaping ideas on a budget we've listed so far, building a DIY water feature might be the most ambitious. But if you're willing to put some time and money into a water feature, you'll be rewarded with an unforgettable focal point of your front yard.
Listen, if you're new to DIY, we don't recommend you start by building your own koi pond without any help. But if you're an experienced, seasoned DIYer, you can definitely build a pond. Newbies, you might want to consider buying a pond kit, which will include molding and materials you'll need to take on this project.
To build a DIY pond, start by searching for inspiration and ideas. Plan your pond's look, feel and style, then determine where you'd like to place it. Fish crave sunlight, so keep that in mind. Then, decide how deep you'd like your pond to be. Next, line the pond using carpet padding covered in thick, butyl rubber. Then, choose edging, like rocks or stones, that enhance your front yard's landscaping. You'll also want to add a curb to prevent overflow.
Don't forget to prepare your pond for winter, and chat with an aquarium expert if you plan to introduce living creatures to your DIY pond.
If you want to add a water feature without spending a ton of time and money, consider a bird bath instead. Bird baths, when placed properly, complement front yard landscaping while offering local birds a place to relax, splash around, bathe themselves and quench their thirst.
A bird bath is one of our favorite DIY landscaping ideas for front yards because they're so unique, charming and sweet. They add a ton of character, at a very lost cost. You can build a bird bath yourself, or buy one ready-to-install. No matter what you decide, make sure you create the safest, most attractive bird bath possible using these tips and tricks.
7. Pile on charm with outdoor lighting
Another cheap way to enhance front yard landscaping is with lighting.
Today, there are infinite solar-powered lighting options for your front yard, which means you can add mood lighting to your front yard without spending so much as a dime on an electrician.
Here are some ideas for lighting to enhance your front yard landscaping:
String lights are ubiquitous, inexpensive and will never go out of style. These charming, romantic lights make yards look warm and inviting, even on cold winter nights. String them from tree to tree, wrap them tightly around tree tops, or loosely weave them between the rafters of your front porch.
No matter how you style string lights, you'll surely make your home look all the more beautiful, and on the cheap.
Path lights define each step from driveway to front door, and are a simple way to turn a house into a home. Stake them in mulch, dirt, grass, stone--wherever it makes sense. Simple and inexpensive, path lights can also be used to define another area, like a flowerbed, a rock garden and or the landscape around mature trees.
While path lights can be hooked up to existing electric, you can use solar-powered varieties, too.
A third idea for front yard landscaping is adding statement lighting. Whether you choose a new, ultra-modern sconce or a vintage outdoor chandelier, one "wow-factor" lighting fixture can really level up your DIY landscape.
About Happy Gardens
Happy Gardens is your one-stop-shop for unique, high-quality garden decor. From wind chime to rain gauge, you'll find tons of pretty little things we've carefully selected to complement every kind of front yard, backyard and landscape style.
Our products look great in every style of home and garden, but they shine especially bright in DIY front yard landscaping, which tends to be as unique and beloved as the pieces in our collection.
Want to learn more about our newest and coolest products for your front yard? Get on our mailing list with your name & email address. Craving some cool ideas (and tons of tips and tricks) on your news feed? For tons of garden inspiration, DIY front yard landscaping ideas, budget hacks, and your daily dose of greenery, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.
We're always here to assist via chat if you'd like a hand picking out that perfect gift, landscaping your yard or just looking for a little something.