Low-cost Ways to Beautify Your Landscape

Living in the poor economic state of the past few years inevitably leads to sacrifices. Typically, the first few casualties of a tighter budget come in the recreation and entertainment areas. Funds usually set aside for family outings and home improvements are cut in order to keep dinner on the table and increasingly expensive fuel in the vehicles. Unfortunately the value of an enjoyable and relaxing home is often overlooked. When most people picture a landscaping project, they envision thousands of dollars in material and backbreaking labor. While this can certainly be the case, it is not the usual. The following will explain five low-cost means of not only adding value to your home in a poor market, but creating an outdoor escape from the day to day. You can create all of these on your own with a little motivation and elbow grease. You will be happy you did! Regardless of what type of landscape addition you are considering (bubblers, fountains, sitting areas, water gardens, etc.) the ultimate goal is the same: To get back to nature!

Here are 5 reasonably low-cost ways to get there.

1) Bubbler
A rock bubbler is one of the fastest and easiest ways to create a peaceful and tranquil waterfall in any area of your yard. Most would agree how relaxing the sound of moving water can be. A bubbler is simply a term for a drilled boulder that has water gently pumped through to run down and back up again.

 What you will need:

  • A medium-sized boulder approx 2ft tall for drilling would on average weigh approximately 300-400 pounds and cost approximately $65.
  • Drilling of the boulder, the pump to push the water, the tub to contain the water, the grates to support the boulder, and the gravel to cover the grate would all cost approximately $325

A fully functioning natural stone bubbler with minimal labor total around $400

 

2) Rock Garden
A rock garden is simply an arrangement of various stones that complement each other. This offers an easy low-maintenance solution to areas of the yard that are stubborn for grass or other plantings to grow. These areas are usually surrounded by shrubs or trees. Depending on the size of the area and complexity of the design, a 10×15 area with varying sized boulders and complete ground coverage as shown would cost between $400-$600.

Suggestions include:

  • River Rock 3×5” (Buffalo 3×5, Missouri Rainbow Oversize, or 4×8 cobblestones)
  • Moss, Granite, or Cobblestone boulders

Compared to the cost of lawn maintenance and mulch replacement annually, this is a more economical option since it requires no attention.

3) Dry Streambed
A dry streambed is a unique landscaping idea that offers a multitude of functions. Streambeds can help reduce high water flow in lowland areas, adjust to a difficult grade change, and hide drainage channels. Depending on the size of the area and amount of different stone used, a dry streambed that covers a large 20×10 area will likely cost around $350-$600 and offers no maintenance what so ever. Suggestions include:

  • River Rock (Buffalo 3×5, Rip Rap, Missouri Oversize, Cobblestones)
  • Kansas Flagstone

 

4) Water Gardens/Features
Water gardens/features are economical and easy to install. They are also able to support unique water-based plant life that would be extremely difficult to maintain on their own. Water features could be as simple or in- depth as you would like and can later be combined with fountains and waterfalls if desired. Water gardens/features can involve a water fountain that drains into a natural pool of water or a man-made pool of water. Since there is such a wide variety of options for water features, the cost can range from $500-$1000+ depending on size, details, and other variables. Suggestions include:

  • Moss Stipple Top/Moss Fieldstone
  • Moss, Granite*, or Cobblestone boulders (drilled or not drilled)

*Granite Boulders are too dense to be drilled on site


5) Fire Pits
Fire pits can be a relaxing family area for all to enjoy at a reasonable cost. Fire pits can be created below ground level or at ground level depending on what style is chosen. Below ground level fire pits involve more labor and cost but are preferred for some because of the wind deterrence it offers among being more aesthetically pleasing. However, above ground fire pits can offer similar benefits depending on taste and budget. Both require that they are lined with fire brick on the inside and veneered or edged with natural stone. Another option is to build the outline of the pit above ground with natural stone and using a metal basin that will hold the logs to fit inside the outline. The nice thing about fire pits is that they can be as simple or detailed as one can afford while still offering a relaxing area for recreation or close company. Expect to spend between $500-$1500+.

A couple options are below:

  • James Creek Veneer mixed with James Creek 4×8 Wallstone
  • Moss Fieldstone

Regardless of what outdoor feature is chosen and what of the many types of stone are chosen is completely up to you. Creating something all your own is a journey and not a destination. Be prepared to get a little dirty, enjoy the ride, and reap the benefits. Anyone can go to their local nursery and overspend on a artificial stone water feature or fountain statue, but where’s the fun in that?

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