ByAmanda Hearn

Nov 16, 2015
Landscaping doesn't have to bust your budget. Learn how you can do it for less — or even for free!

We hear so much about curb appeal these days, but what does it really mean (and how much is it going to cost you?) Curb appeal is referring to the exterior of your home and more or less how appealing and welcoming it is. It’s the general aesthetic and includes everything from roof to windows and sidewalks to landscaping. Some of these aspects may be costly, but landscaping doesn’t have to be one!

If you’ve ever browsed a home improvement store you might have noticed that plants aren’t cheap — especially when you’re trying to dress up your property. You can certainly go that route, but you may find that you can get healthier, more established plants for a fraction of the cost (or even free!) if you think outside of the “big box”.

Conquer & Divide

First things first. Divide. Divide. Divide. Many perennials can be divided into multiple plants every 1-3 years. You can save money by dividing your current plants, but also by choosing plants that can be divided. Some plants that can be divided are;

  • lilies
  • host
  • rises
  • peonies
  • phlox
  • and ornamental grasses.

In general you’ll know that a plant can be divided because each year it tends to ‘clump’ up with new growth, becoming more dense. To help the plants thrive they need to be divided. It’s win for you and win for the plant! You can even coordinate with friends, family, and neighbors for a better selection. More on this below.

Grow From Cuttings

If you want a plant that you can’t divide (perhaps it’s not dividable or belongs to someone else and they wouldn’t be fond of you digging it up) you might consider cuttings! Remember to always ask permission before ever cutting a plant.

You’ll want to cut a nice sprig from some older growth on the plant — this will help give it the best chance of new root growth. Trim excess foliage to help the plant concentrate on rooting. Scrape a bit of the stem (to just barely see the green) that will be placed into the soil. You’ll want a loose potting mix to allow the roots to easily grow. Keep it well watered! You can use a rooting aid if you choose, but it’s not necessary as this video points out.

Harvest Seeds

Landscaping doesn't have to bust your budget. Learn how you can do it for less — or even for free! This is the least evasive of all methods, but may require a bit more work and patience depending on the plant type. Simply collect seeds and get to germinating! You can germinate in a windowsill, light box, greenhouse, or plant them right in the ground. Research the plant type for more specific suggestions.


Last but not least, swap! One of the amazing things about community is coming together to build each other up, and our gardens are no different. I don’t know about you, but I can only handle so many hostas and day lilies. Rather than letting those plants end up in a compost bin they can be separated and shared with a friend or neighbor. The same goes for anything you simply want out of your landscaping. You may be tired of those knock-out roses, but I’m willing to bet that someone would appreciate them.

You can share by word of mouth — let people know what you have and what you’re looking for, or by attending plant swaps. Plant swaps can include any number of the above methods: seeds, fresh cuttings, divisions, or plants that they are phasing out of their landscaping. Check local bulletin boards, Facebook groups, and community calendars for events in your area. If those are less than helpful give Google a try — simply search “plant swap your town here”.

If you put these tips into action you can have well established landscaping in no time. Have I missed one, tell me below!

By Amanda Hearn

Best known as the voice behind The Eco Friendly Family blog, where I've been writing since 2009, about topics like parenting, cloth diapers, non-toxic menstrual care, chemical safety, & healthy living. I've also been part of the team behind Green Child Magazine since 2012. My family inspires my passion to be involved in the movement towards intuitive living, and all that it encompasses.