These budget front yard landscaping ideas will convince you that top-notch curb appeal doesn't have to cost top dollar. You don't have to go for one of those super-expensive concrete-and-water-feature designs in order to achieve a beautiful front-of-house look. Instead, take inspiration from pocket-friendly ideas that will save you money, without compensating on style, by making use of simple, traditional materials, clever planting, and a few well-chosen accessories.
It might come as a surprise that your front yard landscaping can still act as an introduction to your backyard, without costing you thousands. Better still, most of these looks can be developed over time so you can use them as starting points for fancier front yard designs along your journey towards completing a longer-term front yard landscaping project. The choice is always yours.
Budget front yard landscaping ideas
If you have a tight budget to work with, you can still make your front yard look great. Paige Anderson, a landscape architect at Nitido Design, reassures homeowners that 'when it comes to landscaping your front yard, you don't have to settle for second best. Even if you have a little space and a limited budget, there are many methods to create a magnificent show.'
Anderson advises focusing on tried-and-tested methods to enhance your curb appeal – simple walkways, trees, and clever lighting will go a long way to enhancing your front yard. And don't forget bedding plants – yes, they're part of landscaping too, and often don't cost very much at all.
1. Ditch the lawn
Lawns are not a cheap backyard or front yard option, particularly if you live in a warmer climate. They require constant irrigation, so you'll need to pay for an irrigation system of some kind, and constant maintenance during the summer months, which will require you to buy and store a lawnmower. Turf also needs regular reseeding.
So, ditch the grass and be inspired by this lawn-free front yard by Urban Oasis Landscape Design. Low-maintenance, inexpensive plants like aloe and ornamental grasses will provide plenty of interest in a grassless front yard. You only need several larger plants to create an attractive, textured ground cover.
2. Build a stepping stone pathway
Stepping stone walkways are one of the most budget-friendly additions to a front yard, and they require very little additional spending beyond the stones or slabs you'll be using. The best part of this budget front yard landscaping idea is that it can be achieved on a DIY basis. Anderson explains that 'stepping stones can be installed in a number of methods, including digging holes and filling them with cement or buying them separately from a landscaping supply store.'
Richard Fung, Owner of the homebuilding company Forever Homes, praises stepping stone walkways as a 'classic' idea that 'comes at a cheap cost' of 'around $10 to $30 per stone in the current market.' However, Fung cautions complete beginners hoping to install a path, because a stepping stone walkway 'requires quite a good labor and time for the installation process. Choosing from a variety of stones depending on the design of your front yard, digging the holes and filling needs a good extent of experience and confidence to DIY yourself.'
3. Plant a tree
A tree is a beautiful budget-friendly solution for any front yard. Anderson particularly recommends this idea for a small front yard where 'a single tree makes a terrific focal point.' You can, of course, invest in a mature tree specimen for instant curb appeal, but you will 'save money by buying a seedling rather than an older tree.'
The cost of a tree with planting labor will vary widely depending on the species you'd like to plant in your front yard, but expect to pay $1,000 upwards. A young tree, on the other hand, will not cost you much more than $100 (around $200 if it's a rarer type).
4. Consider xeriscaping
Xeriscaping is the budget front yard landscaping idea we expect to see more of everywhere in the coming years. It's already becoming popular beyond the hot and arid climate it originates from, not least because of the low cost of this simple form of landscaping.
Xeriscaping refers to making a landscape more drought-tolerant and typically involves planting drought-tolerant plants in beds covered with gravel for better moisture retention. Xeriscaped gardens also just look really cool and suit modern homes beautifully. Because they have a minimalist look, you can get away with just a few plants, which also saves you money.
5. Landscape with large rocks
Big rocks are your friends if you're looking for front yard landscape ideas on a budget. A few artfully positioned rocks in a front yard bed can go a long way toward creating a modern, bespoke look. If you live in a mountainous area, you can easily find rocks for free, but you can also buy them from a landscaping retailer or even your local garden center.
Tiered and sculpted looks and rockeries won't require much DIY expertise, but they will require some patience as you'll have to dig in properly to make sure they stay in place.
6. Lay a gravel path
Gravel is a traditional, inexpensive material that can be used in so many different ways in a front yard. Learn how to lay a gravel path for a soft-looking front yard path that will be much, much cheaper than stone. Or fill your front yard beds with gravel for a minimalist look. The best thing about gravel is that it can be used easily on a DIY basis with no additional labor costs. Even if you're a complete beginner, working with gravel is very easy, and the design payoff is worth it.
7. Go for the traditional white picket fence
The white picket fence is as traditional a front yard idea as they come, one of those garden fence ideas that never go out of fashion. The suburban dream personified, it's also remarkably budget-friendly. A picket fence can be installed for as little as $500, although expect to pay somewhere in the region of $1,500 for a really nice one for a larger front yard perimeter.
Because a white picket fence is so distinctive and cheerful-looking, you won't need much more landscaping – a lawn and some traditional plants like roses complement it best.
8. Consider a birdbath
Anderson highly praises a birdbath as 'distinctive, attractive, and adorable' and names it as one of his 'favorite DIY landscaping ideas for front yards.' Birdbaths 'when appropriately placed, complement front yard landscaping while providing a safe haven for local birds to relax, swim around, bathe, and satisfy their thirst.'
9. Add drama with lighting
Back yard lighting ideas go a long way in a front yard, and as Anderson points out, 'today, there are countless solar-powered lighting solutions for your front yard, allowing you to add mood lighting without spending a dollar on an electrician.' Solar-powered stake lights are very cheap and easy to install by simply sticking them in alongside your front yard path.
If you're feeling more adventurous and have a bigger budget to play with, especially if you are building a front yard from scratch, you can start looking at spotlights built into the hardscaping of your front yard for really beautiful illumination at night.
10. Take advantage of garden edging
The cheapest garden edging ideas are also among the most effective for landscaping a front yard on a budget. Steel edging will only cost you a few dollars, is very easy to install, and will last years. It's perfect for creating desirable curved front yard beds and for keeping your lawn neat and in place.
What is the cheapest form of front yard landscaping?
Choosing front yard landscaping ideas on a budget will often mean focusing on just one or two key features. Scale down your ambition to really make the most of what budget you do have available. Richard Fung especially recommends planting a single tree in your front yard if budget is an issue. According to Fung, 'no other front yard landscaping could be as cheap as planting a young and fresh tree. Buying a sapling instead of an older tree will save you around at least $200 to $3,000 or even more.'
Obviously, you'll have to wait for the tree to mature for the best look, but the wait will be well worth it. As Fung points out, not only does a front yard tree look amazing, it 'will be able to save at least 30 percent of the heating and cooling costs of your home.' Trees also add value to your home if you decide to sell years down the line. A mature tree can add as much as $7,000 – that is a massive return on the initial investment of under $200.
How can I make my front yard look more expensive than it actually is?
If you are the proud owner of a front yard lawn, that's your opportunity to make your yard look more expensive, right there. Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, recommends focusing on upkeep: 'make sure that you mow your lawn regularly and prune your plants because a clean and sharp lawn will always look more expensive.'
A bonus tip from Yamaguchi is to plant perennials along the perimeter of your lawn – not only do perennial plants look elegant and expensive but 'they last much
longer than other plants which means that you don’t have to buy new ones
If you have a slightly bigger budget, Richard Fung recommends looking at outdoor lighting to make your front yard look more expensive. He advises that fluorescent lights cost around $80-$220, wall-mounted lights $70-$200. Aesthetically pleasing lighting 'will make your front yard look more expensive than it really is. If you are looking to light up the whole front yard with the help of a professional team, you can install lighting for around $1,000-$4,000.'
Lighting adds depth and contrast to any existing front yard landscaping and is a very useful tool for updating your front yard on a budget.