4 inexpensive landscaping projects

Adding a mulch bed is an inexpensive landscaping project that brings big results. (Photo courtesy of Blair S. of Overland Park, Kas.)

Adding a mulch bed is an inexpensive landscaping project that brings big results. (Photo courtesy of Blair S. of Overland Park, Kas.)

A well-maintained landscape can add beauty and value to any home home. While some landscaping feats cost thousands of dollars and take weeks to complete, you can make your outdoor spaces shine with a few quick and easy projects that won't break the bank.

1. Build a garden

Nothing adds a touch of class to a property like a well-maintained garden. All you need to get started is a small piece of land where you've stripped the grass away and tilled the earth. You can choose to box the area in to give it a raised look, or leave it at ground level and frame it with some landscaping planks. Once the garden plot is ready, all you have to do is install your plants.

If you're making a flower garden, perennials are your best bet because they return each spring. Mint, phlox, sedum and foxglove are often priced under $5 per plant and generally fill out nicely when positioned in the sun. For a garden in the shade, begonias, astilbe and lily of the valley are beautiful and inexpensive options. For a vegetable garden, consider raising your veggies from seeds, which is far more economical than buying young plants.

2. Install a small water feature

Water features, like fountains and waterfalls, may seem out of your price range, but they can actually be very reasonable to install. If you have some rocks on hand to create the falling water effect, your only real expenses will be the water pump, tubing and the pond liner. The pump and liner for a small pond can each cost around $50, while the tubing may run another $20. If this leaves you with extra money to spend, consider increasing the number of rocks in your feature or add plants around the outside of the pond.

3. Mulch flower beds and around trees

Mulch adds a touch of dark color to your beds and around trees, giving the area a professional, finished look. The mulch also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow, allowing your beds to retain this professional look with much less maintenance than it would normally take. Finally, mulch helps retain moisture, keeping plant roots warmer, and provides additional nutrients as it decomposes. Mulch is inexpensive when you buy it by the cubic yard, ranging in price from $30 to around $50 for the least expensive options. If you only have a small area to mulch, you can buy it by the bag, which normally contains about two cubic feet of material and runs between $3 and $5 per bag.

4. Build a quiet seating area

There may be no more perfect use of an outdoor space than relaxing in your own peaceful oasis. The centerpiece of this area is typically a bench, and while some exquisite garden benches can be quite expensive, you can get a small faux stone bench for as little as $50. Nice wooden park benches, complete with rust-resistant supports and durable wood, can be found for as low as $70. Then you can simply beautify the area with some of the other inexpensive landscaping ideas, such a water feature or flower bed, to make a perfect seating area.

If you desire, you can also build a low-budget walkway out to the area using gravel and flagstones. The gravel will cost about $3 for a 50-pound bag, and cheap flagstones may cost as little as $2 per stone, making the entire walkway possible for under $50.

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Mulch must never be built up around the base of the trunk. The tree should never have soil built up around the base to where the root flare becomes buried. This always shortens the life of the tree. Plants should never be planted right up against the trunk. Always keep the root flare exposed and free of overburden.

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