Here are 14 things you can do to keep your yard in tip-top shape while spending less than $100.
1. Plant Stuff
A good-looking yard is full of life. Plant some shrubs in your front yard, perhaps even a couple tall bushes to frame your doorway. Buy some different types of flowers and plant them in spots that get good sunlight, and water them frequently. (Consider planting perennials, like roses and mums, which can bloom for multiple seasons.) To get started, you’ll want to invest in some decent soil, which can be purchased relatively cheaply at your local home improvement store.
2. Trim Stuff
It’s great to have trees, bushes, and plants to give life to your yard, but things can get overgrown if you don’t keep an eye on them. Trim any tree branches that are close to your house or over your neighbor’s yard. Keep your hedges at a nice, consistent height. Cut away any vines creeping over your fences. You can handle most trimming work with a decent pair of long clippers and a band saw. Cordless, rechargeable hedge trimmers can also be useful and are often available for under $100.
3. Pull Weeds
If you have plants, you will have weeds. And weeds are your enemy. Luckily, they are easy to spot, and usually easily pulled out of flower beds. Use RoundUp or a similar product to kill any weeds in stubborn areas, like along the cracks in your sidewalk and driveway.
Get those leaves up! Leaves on the yard can look pretty for a while, but after a short time they start to block any sun from reaching your grass. A couple good days of raking will do the trick, but you could also blow those leaves away with a gas or battery powered blower.
5. Lay Down Mulch
Putting some mulch in your gardens serves several purposes. A thick layer of mulch makes it harder for weeds to grow, and also protects plant roots from getting scorched by the sun in the summer. Moreover, a good, dark mulch can help make the color from flowers petals really pop. You can get a bag of mulch for just a few bucks, so it’s one of the best investments for your yard. Tip: Always buy a bag or two more than you think you might need.
To make things look extra-nice, you’ll want to sharpen things up by creating a hard edge between your lawn and garden beds, and along any sidewalks or driveways. You can do this by hand in small areas using a trowel, but it’s also worth investing less than $100 in a cordless or gas-powered edger. (Some edgers have replaceable heads that allow you to turn the machine into a weed-wacker or other tool.)
7. Put Up Some Lattice
Some white crisscross lattice can be a good way to cover up unsightly areas. At my house, we had lattice installed near the outdoor steps to my basement, and it has the added effect of preventing small kids from falling over into the stairwell. Vinyl lattice is virtually maintenance-free, and can be purchased for less than $1 per square foot.
8. Power Wash Your House
What’s the point of sprucing up your yard if the house looks filthy? After enduring heavy rain, intense sun and other assaults, the exterior of your house is bound to get dirty. Vinyl siding might get stained or discolored, brick and stone walls look dingy, and the roof looks grimey. You can blast your house clean by investing in a good gas-powered washer. It’s possible to buy one for under $100, or you could rent one a couple times a year to keep your house looking spiffy.
Look around your house for any faded or peeling spots, and get to work with a few gallons of paint. This won’t set you back much, and it’s a job most people can do themselves. Pay special attention to things like front doors, window ledges, deck railings, and shutters.
10. Tend to Your Lawn
It’s easy to just mow the lawn and forget about it, but if you want one of the nicest yards in the neighborhood, you’ll have to do some extra work. Each fall, you’ll want to spend some time thatching out any dead stuff — there are special rakes you can buy at a low price, or even machines to rent. Once that’s done, lay down new seed. This may mean you’ll have to buy or rent a spreader, but those are usually available for under $100. Bags of seed will run you about $50 each. Water your lawn and feed it fertilizer in the spring. This will ensure your lawn comes up nice, healthy and green.
11. Get an Old Bench
It’s amazing how something like a bench can transform a space in someone’s yard. It’s not too hard to procure an old bench from yard sales and antique shops, and you can spruce it up by sanding out any rough edges and giving it a new paint job. Place the bench under a tree or next to a flower bed to create an awesome sense of place.
12. Get a Birdbath
A birdbath has a similar effect as a bench. They look great when placed next to trees, and it’s fun to see how they can attract various species of birds. You can buy a solid birdbath for under $50 at many stores.
13. Build a Firepit
It’s really fun to sit out back and enjoy the warmth of a fire on a cool night, and a firepit can be a great accent to any yard. Top-of-the-line firepits can be expensive to install, but you can easily make one yourself using some flat stones and cement or mortar on a gravel surface. (Here’s one person who claims to have built a firepit for only $8.)
14. Dig a Pond
This can be a wonderful addition to any garden, and they aren’t too difficult to construct. You can get a small polyethylene liner for less than $100. Just dig and install. (Okay, it’s not quite that easy. But it’s not a big chore, either.) Over time, you can add some surrounding flowers, lilypads, and fish. You may even attract some frogs and turtles. Those with bigger budgets may want to consider a fountain or waterfall.