Backyard landscaping: Tips to help you save

Family celebrating in backyard of home with happy baby

Is there anything better than getting stuck into your backyard? Trips to the nursery, digging though the soil, getting your hands dirty, giving life to a world of greenery… it’s the ultimate happy place.

But, for the uninitiated, the world of DIY backyard landscaping can seem a little overwhelming, and there are plenty of pitfalls into which you could fall. Specifically, the costs of landscaping your own backyard can easily skyrocket if you’re not careful with your planning.

So, here they are – our ultimate tips for backyard landscaping on a budget.


You’ve heard us talk about it in our tips for laundry and kitchen renovations, but it bears repeating again; decide how much you can afford to spend on your landscaping project, write that number down on a piece of paper, and stick to it. Trust us – it’s all too easy to get into the nursery and blow half your budget on impulsive succulent purchases.


It sounds obvious, but have a clear plan in your head before you start. Draw some rough maps of your backyard space and start sketching out some ideas – they don’t need to be pretty, they just need to give you a rough idea of the space that you’re working with. Where do you want your seating? Where are the main garden beds? Where will you need paths or pavers to connect different areas? Is there room for any bigger plants or trees?

If you identify any jobs that you can’t do yourself, get an expert involved early. They’ll be able to offer landscaping suggestions that can help transform your whole space.

So, take some time, do some planning for the different areas of your backyard, and the whole project will run smoothly from there – no changes of plans, and no unexpected costs.

Think vertical 

Too many people approach landscaping from a 2D perspective, but verticality is what elevates (pun intended) an average backyard into a great backyard.

Cover fences with climbing plants like jasmine or passionfruit; hang small planter boxes from fences and fill them with colourful flowers or herbs; explore the art of espalier – training trees to grow their limbs in elegant patterns. These are relatively affordable ways to turn a drab brick wall into a feature.

Using the vertical space is the best way to make the most of your backyard, no matter how large or small it may be. 

Let there be light

Especially in warmer climates, spending time in an illuminated backyard can be magical. Shop around for hanging lanterns or fairy lights that fit your backyard’s aesthetic. Light larger plants from below – this is the perfect way to turn your trees into features instead of letting them blend into the night.

If you’re after a touch of ambience without the trouble of wiring, invest in some self-contained solar lights. Simply pop them into the ground and let them shine!

Plant selection

Arguably the most important part of any backyard landscaping project is your plant selection.

The best move is to visit a local nursery and ask for advice on what plants are best suited to your climate. The team there will be able to advise you on the best plants for your budget and desired look, so that you’ll be living your dream before you know it.

Before you rush off to the nursery, here are a few general tips to get you started.

  • Evergreens are just that. They’ll keep your garden green all year round.
  • Succulents are about as low maintenance as it gets – perfect if you’re busy, or if your thumb isn’t the greenest.
  • A patch of grass in a planter box can bring life to a smaller urban courtyard.
  • Ornamental grasses are an easy way to create cheap, appealing ground cover.
  • Ask your friends and neighbours for cuttings of their plants – it’ll take some love, but they’re free! Hard to argue with that as a cost-cutting measure.
  • Your garden can help you save on your grocery bill. If you have room, grow fruits, vegetables and herbs – straight from backyard to kitchen.
  •  Australian natives are best suited to the climate, so can take a little more neglect than most other plants.

Reclaimed materials

It’s easy to break the bank with outdoor furniture and fittings, but getting creative with reclaimed materials can cut your costs in half. Besides that, upcycling is all the rage at the moment – why spend top dollar on something that looks vintage when you can just make it yourself?

Old wooden planks and corrugated steel can become a beautiful, asymmetrical fence line. Old bricks or stones can become lawn edgers. That crumbling concrete path is just a bit of elbow grease away from being a beautiful gravel garden bed. Break up a wooden pallet to create a slatted fence or an upcycled path. It’s all a matter of imagination!

If you’re ready to get stuck in, have a look at our options for financing your renovation. If you’re still keen on some more research, check out our top tips for keeping your renovation costs under control.

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