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20 Cheap Landscaping Fixes That Look Expensive

Fake it until you make it with these cheap landscaping fixes that look expensive.

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Close up of water splashing on rocks from a waterfall Water on decorative stonesAndrew Angelov/Shutterstock

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.

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Rustic Country Vegetable & Flower Garden with Raised Beds.jgolby/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. And you can still have a pretty flower garden even if your land doesn’t get much sun thanks to these 9 colorful flowers that grow in the shade.

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Modern garden designThomBal/Shutterstock

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 have to have 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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Alcea rosea (common hollyhock) is an ornamental plant in the Malvaceae family. Blooming plants on the background of a black wooden fence.Anna50/Shutterstock

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. Do double-duty by planting some of these edible flowers in your garden, too.

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Hanging garden - succulent plants in similar twine pots, senecio rowleyanusMariaNikiforova/Shutterstock

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 to any planter is to ensure 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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Simple pathway in home garden landscapeFoto2rich/Shutterstock

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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Vertical plants garden hanging on a wooden pallet with a cement wall on the backLautaro Federico/Shutterstock

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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Steel Reinforcing BarSimonHS/Shutterstock

Build a rustic arbor

You can make a 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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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 pitRossi Ferraiolo/Shutterstock

Put in a backyard fire pit

Build a fire pit for not much more than the cost of a flimsy store-bought fire ring. If you don’t want your neighbors looking at the pit, plant some of these plants in your backyard that are great for privacy.

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gardening tools and seedling in soil surface backgroundMadlen/Shutterstock

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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Tulip bulbs stored in the boxes with shovel on it and carried out for planting , cleaned and prepared flower bulbs , agriculture and gardening concept Jurga Jot/Shutterstock

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—and bring the containers back out in spring.
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A box of delicious ripe blueberries. Organic, diet food. Berries in a plastic container.Nadya1986/Shutterstock

Recycle berry containers for lawn care

When it’s time to clean out the refrigerator, be sure to 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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a big plastic planter full of little flowerDario Lo Presti/Shutterstock

Make your own planters

This 3-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. Just don’t opt for these 37 plants you definitely don’t want to grow.

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Mole hills on green grass. Close up Egor Valeev/Shutterstock

Add mounds to flat areas

If you’re stuck with a perfectly flat yard, a mounded “island” of earth is a great place to isolate and display plantings, yard ornaments, boulders or other eye-catching features. A yard with contours looks more natural than a flat yard. Order a dump truck’s worth of topsoil or use fill generated from patio or pond excavations.

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Notebook, coffee and plant on dark wooden backgroundNew Africa/Shutterstock

Go for green

Unless you’re a seasoned gardener, get help with selecting and placing plants. Bring photos or a scale drawing of planting areas to the nursery and enlist the help of a knowledgeable salesperson. Your goals are to choose a variety of plants that lend color throughout the season (including winter), and to position them well, so their mature growth heights and widths fill in the planting beds and blend well.

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Retain wall with loanAndrey B. Kostin/Shutterstock

Erect stone entry walls

Low stone walls are striking features that can define your entry and guide visitors up the walk. Natural stone is ideal but difficult to set. The decorative concrete units shown here are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. They subtly separate seating areas from public sidewalks and streets. And they’re also great places for casual seating and potted plants.

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Black chair in wood patio at green garden with fountain in house. Outdoor garden.Travelerpix/Shutterstock

Put in a small patio

A simple flagstone or paver brick patio furnished with an outdoor dining set is the perfect spot to watch the kids play in the yard and entertain guests. Practically speaking, patios help drain water away from the house and are a great solution for areas that won’t support grass. Luckily flagstone requires little upkeep, too. So it’s not like these 12 renovations you’re likely to regret later.

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White flowers Cleome close-up. Tarenaya hasslerianaOlgaOtto/Shutterstock


Cleome is just one of the many self-seeding annual plants that come back year after year without any effort on your part. Also called spiderflower because of the spiderlike flowers, it grows 4 feet tall or better and brandishes large pink, purple or white flowers. Although it is a vigorous self-seeder, unwanted seedlings are easy to pull when they’re young. Because of its size, cleome is not a plant to be ignored. That size also makes it a great back-of-border plant in a flowerbed.

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Pink Celosia argentea Flowers. Potted Celosia argentea Flowers on the counter in the store. Many flowering Celosia argentea plants. nnattalli/Shutterstock


Celosia is another rampant self-seeder that makes itself at home in your garden year after year. If so, consider yourself lucky, because the vividly colored blooms on this plant are a pure delight. They feature a variety of colors—from burgundy, red, magenta and pink to cream, orange, and yellow. Celosia offers different flower shapes, too. There are plumes, crests, and spikes. No wonder this annual is loved by so many gardeners. There’s a size to fit any garden, from 6-inch dwarfs to 3-foot-tall specimens. Planting this flower is one of the 52 things you can do to make your home look more expensive.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman