4 Inexpensive Ways to Spruce Up Your Backyard

Tips for gardening and landscaping that don't break the bank.

As spring approaches and homeowners start thinking about what they want to do with their outdoor living spaces during the warmer months, the question asking, “How much will this cost?” continues to pop up. However, gardening and landscaping don’t have to break the bank. That’s why ESTATEVNY rounded up four inexpensive ways to spruce up your backyard with the help of the owners behind Taylor Made Landscape Design and Gardens that Grow.

1. Start with the Basics

One of the quickest and cheapest things that homeowners can do to enhance their yards while sticking to a budget is buy mulch. According to Mary Gignilliat of Gardens that Grow, the product is a game changer when it comes to creating a healthy yard.

Gignilliat said, “Mulch. Spreading a four to six-inch layer of finely shredded, dark hardwood mulch is the fastest way to create a clean, finished look in a yard. If you can blow leaves and weed an area before mulching, that is even better. The icing on the cake? Creating a nice edge on any planting beds.”

2. Remove Oversized and Old Plants

In addition to adding mulch to your hard, removing oversized and older plants is a great way to enhance the look and feel of your yard without spending a dime. Maureen Taylor of Taylor Made Landscape Design says that removing these unnecessary items has the ability to create a better environment for plants while also creating room that wasn’t there before.

“One of the best—and easiest—things that homeowners can do to spruce up their backyards is take out overgrown shrubbery. Sometimes we’ve taken out old plants that are 75 years old, and they take up so much space. Removing those plants really helps to clean things up and opening up a beautiful planting area that you may not have even realized that you had,” said Taylor. “There are also easy ways for homeowners to enhance their yards without breaking the bank. After removing shrubbery, they can start fresh by planting smaller items. A 24-inch shrub is less expensive than a 30-inch shrub, and if you have the patience to wait a few years for it to grow, you won’t be able to tell the difference a few years down the line.”

3. Ask the Professionals for Help

If your yard is in bad shape, the cost of bringing in a professional landscaper or gardener will be well worth it. By having the experts take care of what they’re good at, homeowners can then maintain the work that their landscaper or gardener has started in order to stay on budget.

“If a yard has been really neglected, I suggest that homeowners hire a professional landscaper to get the outdoor space in shape—to a baseline—from which the homeowner can maintain without being overwhelmed,” Gignilliat said. “Qualified professionals can usually distinguish the difference between a weed and a valuable plant, know how and when to prune shrubs or small trees and can make recommendations for the future care of the garden. Some companies offer additional services like power washing that can make a huge difference on dingy fences, sidewalks or patios.”

4. Don’t Be Tempted to Clean Up Too Early

When the weather is nice in the winter or early spring, it’s hard to resist the temptation to go outside and start gardening for the spring. However, this has the potential to do more harm than good. That’s why it’s best to wait for the right time to clean things up in your yard.

“One thing that I stress every year is a warning to not clean up old leaves too early. Leaves that have fallen from last fall are serving a purpose right now. For markets like Chicago, it’s tempting to clean up the yard if we have one nice day during the winter. But as soon as the weather goes back to being cold, the roots and plants that were once blanketed in a nice layer of leaves are now totally exposed. This is the biggest mistake that people make,” said Taylor. “I know it’s hard to resist the temptation to be outside in the nice weather, but you want to wait a long time to clean up your yard for the spring season. I’d push it to late April or early May if you can. Your yard will be much better off.”