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14 Cheap Landscaping Updates that Make a Splash

Revamp your landscape (and impress your neighbors) with these inexpensive updates.

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water fountain

Add a Small Water Feature

With minimal materials and effort, you can build this beautiful artesian fountain in just two days. And — bonus! — once it’s built, you don’t have to worry about maintenance. Here’s how to build it yourself.

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flower bedAlinaMD/Shutterstock

Carve Out a Slice of Lawn for a Flower Bed

Putting in a flower bed doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. Just some simple edging, good soil and colorful flowers will do. Get even fancier with a raised garden bed.

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landscaping boulder

Roll in a Boulder

Boulders are eye-catching and provide a natural location for adding grasses, flowers and other garden plants. You’ll find huge piles of boulders to pick through anywhere that sells landscaping supplies. Prices vary with size, less for breadbox-size ones and more for giant boulders that you’ll need delivered and placed. Whatever sizes you choose, nest the boulders into the ground a bit. They should look like they were left from a receding glacier — not like they were just rolled off the back of a pickup!

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chuchart duangdaw/Getty Images

Grow Self-Seeding Flowers

Self-seeding flowers, like the hollyhocks seen here, are a real money saver for the home gardener. Buy a packet of seeds now and have flowers forevermore. The secret is to sow them where they have a chance to succeed (consult seed packets for recommendations) and then allow some of the fading flowers to go to seed. Resist deadheading, at least near the end of the season when a new crop of seeds is needed. Some great self-seeders include rudbeckia, sunflower, cleome, zinnia, calendula, bachelor’s buttons, poppies and cosmos.

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wrapped planterPhoto: Courtesy of Melina Gillies

Use Cheap Planters, but Dress Them Up

Garden twine is a useful tool for any gardener, especially as a cheap and cheerful addition to any planter. With a little hot glue and some imagination, you can create almost any look you like. Wrap an entire run-of-the-mill plastic planter with twine for an industrial look, or cover only a portion to give your decorative planters a modern edge. Twine is also easily painted, so consider adding a colorful stripe to the middle section of twine with spray paint for an extra pop of color, or group pots together with assorted colors to accent your other outdoor decor. The only limitation: Make sure that the size of the planter matches the size of the plants you want to display. Check out four more ideas for dressing up a cheap planter.

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Affordable Garden Path IdeasFamily Handyman

Go with a Gravel Path

Adding a garden path provides interest and a place to walk through your landscape. But rather than installing an expensive concrete or paver pathway, opt for less-expensive gravel or mulch.

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FH10APR_GUTPLA_01Family Handyman

Mount Small Planters on the Deck

In a little under an hour, you can make this simple railing-mounted planter. All you need is some standard gutter parts. Get the plans for this deck planter here.

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Family Handyman

Build a Rustic Arbor

You can make this garden trellis from just $25 of steel rebar. And you won’t have to weld a thing. We’ll show you how to bend the arches and attach the decorative circles with wire. When you’re done, cover it with climbing plants for an attractive addition to your garden.

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seedlings growing in plastic clamshell container from salad bar

Repurpose Containers for Starting Seeds

Reuse a plastic clamshell container from the salad bar as a mini greenhouse for starting seeds in the spring. After washing the container, punch a few holes in the top. Fill the bottom with potting soil and plant your seeds. Close the lid and place the container in a sunny spot. It acts like a mini greenhouse, allowing the sun to reach the plants while holding in moisture.

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fire pit

Put in a Backyard Fire Pit

Build a fire pit for not much more than the cost of a flimsy store-bought fire ring. With tips from a veteran bricklayer, we’ll show you how.

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Save on Potting Mix

Name-brand potting mixes can set you back quite a few dollars when you’re filling large containers. Use less of the expensive soil mix (and save weight so you can move the containers more easily) by lining the bottom of large containers with packing peanuts before filling with soil mix. Put the packing peanuts in a sealed plastic bag or cover with landscape fabric to prevent them from mingling with the soil — a hassle if you ever dump the pot.

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Tender Bulbs flower

Save Your Tender Bulbs

A lot of northern gardeners treat tender bulbs as annuals, allowing them to die at season’s end. Instead, overwinter them. To make it simpler, plant tender bulbs in containers. Then, after frost kills the tops, whisk the containers into cool storage in a basement or attached garage. Water sparingly — maybe once a month — while they’re dormant so the soil doesn’t totally dry out. Then bring the containers back out in spring.

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filling grass seed broadcaster

Recycle Berry Containers for Lawn Care

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, save those plastic berry containers. You can toss the mushy raspberries, but wash and dry the container — it’s perfect for spreading grass seed on your lawn!

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Family Handyman

Make Your Own Planters

This three-season planter box uses plastic containers or liners to keep moisture and dirt away from the wooden parts, meaning it will survive the outdoors a lot longer than other planters. Learn how to build the three-season planter box here.