Landscaping doesn't always have to be expensive--you can substitute inexpensive items for the more costly ones. You can often buy plants inexpensively, or get them for free. Yard sales and newspaper ads provide inexpensive or free items you can use in your landscaping.
While weed barriers are useful, you don't see them, as they're hidden under mulch. You can use newspapers as an effective weed barrier. Thoroughly water the ground. Lay out three to five layers of newspaper over the bed, making sure the newspaper is 2 inches away from plants. Wet the newspaper, then cover it with compost, pulverized bark or other mulch.
Instead of purchasing mulch at a nursery or big box garden store, check with tree trimming companies for pulverized bark. Pulverized bark not only helps keep moisture in the ground and protects the roots, but it also provides a colorful flowerbed.
Check with construction companies for leftover pavers and landscape timbers. Sometimes construction companies order more material than they need or have defective material that the customer does not want. The construction companies often sell the excess material at a deep discount.
Plants and Trees
Check ads, classified websites, such as craigslist.org and sales for inexpensive or free plants and trees. A homeowner might advertise free trees if you agree to dig them up and move them, simply because she is changing her landscaping, and the trees no longer fit into her design. You can also ask friends and neighbors for cuttings. Plant the cuttings in pots. As soon as they become established, transplant into the landscaping.
You may also find inexpensive (used or on sale) or free materials for larger projects, such as gazebos, ponds and decks. It might take longer to complete the larger project, but you can complete it at less than half the cost. Gazebos add another dimension to the landscaping and provide shade for entertaining. You can build small ponds out of many different materials, including large, used horse troughs.