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Cheap Simple Front Yard Landscaping Ideas

How to design and landscape your front yard from scratch with these low maintenance, cheap and simple front yard landscaping ideas.

Are you looking for cheap simple front yard landscaping ideas? Wondering how you can create a beautiful front yard by landscaping from scratch? Are you hoping you can landscape your yard yourself but haven’t really done so before? And do you also want your yard to be low maintenance?

We’ve started a front yard landscape from scratch in nearly every house that we’ve lived in. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I want to share with you. Some of these come from experience, some from reading and learning, and others from mistakes I’ve made. But you don’t have to make the same mistakes! These cheap simple front yard landscaping ideas will go a long way towards helping you design and install a beautiful front yard while staying on budget. Plus, these ideas are low maintenance enough that you won’t spend all your precious summer days keeping up your yard.

a collage image with front yard landscaping ideas

Today I’m joining some of my blogging friends who are also sharing their summer garden ideas with us. Thanks to Leslie, Ashley, and Janine for hosting this group!

10 Summer Gardening Ideas poster.

So, you want to landscape your front yard from scratch, or basically from scratch? Perhaps you have a bit of grass that is rather uninspiring and you want to give your home a little more curb appeal. Simple and beautiful front yard landscaping is one of the best ways to add curb appeal (and value!) to your home. Here are my favourite cheap simple front yard landscaping ideas when you are starting from basically nothing…

Pick a layout

After landscaping 5 different houses pretty much or completely from scratch, I have learned a few things about design and layout. I personally like to focus on a bed directly in front of the house. Then depending on the layout of the yard, this might carry onto the side of the yard and down to the front.

Last year at this time, I tackled landscaping the front yard of our current new build while my husband was working out of town as a surprise for him for Father’s Day. Because we have quite a small subdivision sized front yard, I chose to create a landscaping bed for shrubs, trees, and perennials that goes directly in front of our porch and then down the one side of our yard all the way to the street.

In our lake house we added landscaping over several years, eventually ending up with garden across the front, side, and road side of our property. And in our Forest house, we focused on simple beds of ornamental grasses directly in front of the house and then between the sidewalk and the driveway. Just keep in mind, the bigger the garden area, the more upkeep and maintenance (and the more cost), so it’s a good idea to focus initially on the areas where you will get the most bang for your buck. A lovely bed right in front of the house might be all you need. An island bed with a tree and some shrubs could help you break up a larger front yard without doing a border around the whole thing.

Plan your design using graph paper. Lay out beds ahead of time using a garden hose or rope. This allows you to visualize the size of the bed, the amount of garden you will have, and estimate how many plants you’ll need. The planning really helps, so don’t skip this step!

Learn about your garden ‘zone’ 

Before you head to the nursery you want to know a few things. First off, what garden zone are you in? You want to make sure to be purchasing plants that are hardy to your zone or you are likely to lose them during the winter months. For the most part, nurseries in your area will bring in trees, shrubs, and perennials that are hardy, but sometimes they have some that are on the edge. We live in Zone 7 but some plants at nurseries in town and in nearby towns are Zone 8, meaning they are likely to suffer damage or even die during a hard winter. You don’t want to go to all this work and expense just to lose your plants.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Read this article for more information on how to discover your garden zone

How much light do you get?

Another key thing to look at before you go to the nursery is what areas of your planned garden area get morning sun, afternoon sun, all-day sun, or little to no sun. Watch your yard for a day while the sun is out. Note down the times where each area is in the sun so you can get a good idea of how many hours each area gets in a day. The plants you select need to be suited to the amount of sun in the area where you plan to place them so it’s important to be aware of your specific conditions.

In our lake house we had a side of the yard that was quite shaded, so we went with plants that are happy in lower light conditions. You can also read this article for inspiring shade garden ideas.

Shaded garden area on side of house.

Curves? Or Straight? What style do you want?

I personally love curves and soft edges, even when the plantings I’m choosing are modern (such as a mass of grasses).  Generally we use curves in landscaping to soften the edges and draw the eye forward and around. It like in art; a flowing line causes your eye to follow it along, landing at a destination point. But… if your home is really modern, you might prefer straight lines in your landscaping.

A row of ornamental ribbon grass in front of a house.

Start with trees and major shrubs

Trees and large shrubs are a great place to start. Even if you don’t have the time or money to do your whole yard at once, get the trees and shrubs in as early as possible. This will give them a chance to get growing. When we tackled our lake yard, we did it in stages. This made it more affordable, and also allowed us to fit into our busy schedule. The first year we planted a series of trees and the larger shrubs. From there, we added in a bit more each year.

Trees are the first thing to decide on the placement of. Then add in your shrubs followed by your perennials. The trees and shrubs are also what will provide more year-round interest. Even if they are deciduous trees, there will still be a focal point in the winter garden. Decide where you want to draw people’s eye to in your landscape, and position trees there.

A front yard landscaped with river rock and garden beds.

The exterior of a house with simple front yard landscaping.

Consider Using Rocks

We have always used some form of rock in our landscaping, from river rock to larger boulders that create an interesting break for the eye in your landscape design. River rock is a great product to use if you want to landscape a larger area but want to limit the maintenance by reducing the amount of planted area.

If you are on a tight budget, find out what kind of rock is readily available; there might even be rock in your area that you can get for free, if you are willing to do some work. When we lived in our rental house in Tofino, I landscaped the yard and added a lot of free blast rock that I collected from a pit up the road. It took some sweat equity, but was free and it turned out great!

I wrote this article about landscaping with river rock that should provide you with some inspiration. 

A maple tree set in a front yard garden bed

A front yard with river rock, large boulders, and a mix of perennials and shrubs

Garden Features

Along with creating garden features and focal points with things like trees and large rock, you can also use your fence as a feature in a front yard. We had a split-rail fence added to our front yard in our lake house to help delineate the yard from the pathway that ran along the front of our property, much like a sidewalk.

A split rail fence with ornamental grasses and river rock in front of it.

Driftwood is another item you can add into a garden, if you have it available to you or you live in an area near lakes or beaches. If you can get it for free, it can take up a big chunk of space in your garden, add interest and texture, and break up the plantings!

using a piece of driftwood in the garden

a river rock bed with a large piece of driftwood in the center


Have you ever seen a yard where there are so many different kinds of plants mushed together that you don’t really know where to look? Where it feels completely random, like the gardener went and purchased one of everything and plunked them in the ground wherever they felt like it? Well, that is not what we are trying to create, obviously. We want our landscaped yards to feel calm, natural, and beautiful. We want to achieve BALANCE in our design.

Mass plant your perennials in groups 3 (at minimum) to 5 or more. Always use odd numbers. Plant them in a row or in a staggered fashion, so that they eventually grow together forming a large mound of that plant. Then repeat plants further on in the garden for more consistency and balance. You can also repeat elements like rocks, driftwood, or trees or shrubs.

ornamental ribbon grass mass planted in a front yard landscape

a row of Mexican feather reed grass and small blue fescues in a front yard landscape

Focus on Perennials 

Perennials are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck and the best splash of colour, texture, and interest. Do some research about the best perennials for your location. Take a drive around during the warm months and observe the flowers that you love in other people’s yards. This will help you select plants that you’ll enjoy having in your own front yard. Perennials come back year after year, so they are a good return on investment. They should be fairly well grown by the third summer that you have them in place.

irises blooming in a front yard landscape

lush hostas in front of a blooming rhododendron in a front yard garden

Hostas and ferns in a shady garden bed.

MULCH is a jewel, trust me

Top dress your garden, once it is planted, with fresh topsoil, mulch, or a topsoil/mulch combination. This goes a LONG way towards creating a beautiful finished garden feel. I try to do this every year. But especially the first year, when your trees, shrubs, and plants are still tiny. The fresh and smooth coat of top dressing is all you need to make your new landscaping shine! Plus, it helps keeps weeds at bay more than raw garden soil.

a row of trees and ornaments grasses with a split rail fence in a lake front front yard landscape design

Go in Stages

As I mentioned, you don’t have to do this all at once. Put a plan in place for what you can manage. For example, last year I installed the majority of our front landscaping. This year I still need to add in a few more perennials to some bare spots. I also plan to give the garden a good fresh top dressing of mulch.

We’ll be starting on the back yard soon, which at this point is just a big lawn. I want to carve out my beds this year and then get some trees and larger shrubs in place. I’ll likely wait until the fall or next spring to add in perennials. Gardening is a bit of a patience game. You can’t rush Mother Nature. Take it in stages and allow things time to grow. That is the key to enjoying the process, not just the finished product.

I hope these tips helped you figure out where to start with designing and landscaping your front yard from scratch with these low maintenance, cheap and simple front yard landscaping ideas.

As I mentioned, some of my blogging friends are sharing their great summer garden ideas with us today, too! Be sure to visit their articles by using the links below the images…

More Summer Gardening Ideas

How To Hang Patio Lights // Happy Happy Nester

How To Pull The Yard Together // Finding Lovely

Backyard Deck Decor // Craftberry Bush

How To Make A Stock Tank Garden // Most Lovely Things

How To Arrange Garden Containers // My Sweet Savannah

Clay Herb Garden Markers // Modern Glam

Amazing DIY Strawberry Planter // Twelve On Main

How To Grow The Best Tomato Plants Ever // My 100 Year Old Home

How To Plant Moss Basket Container Garden // Inspiration For Moms

Cheap Simple Front Yard Landscaping Ideas // The Happy Housie

You might enjoy some of my other landscaping related articles…



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  2. Krista,

    Your front yard is so gorgeous! Your DIY is so helpful and inspiring! Thanks so much for joining us on this fun blog hop!

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