The Top 8 Most Affordable Landscaping Materials to Use

May 30, 2023

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Landscaping can be described as an artistic transformation of the outside hardscapes and softscapes to create a beautiful place to retreat to relax.  Many homeowners create luscious and beautiful landscapes in their front yards and their backyards so that they can enjoy the outdoors surrounded by beautiful flowers, shrubs, stones, pergolas, or gazebos. Although landscaping is mostly about creating a beautiful retreat, it can also have other beneficial uses. Landscapes allow the homeowner to get closer to nature and to become more in tune with the outside world around them. It can encourage homeowners to be more aware of their environmental footprint, thus cutting back on pollution, promoting sustainability, and encouraging healthy ecosystems for beneficial insects.  These landscapes can also be perfect places for growing natural herbs, simple foods, and healthy plants for consumption and enjoyment.   

Top Choices for Affordable Landscaping Materials

  1. Mulch
  2. Shredded Leaves
  3. Pea Gravel
  4. Bark
  5. Rocks
  6. Brick Chips
  7. Sand
  8. Pine Needles & Cones

Creating magnificent landscapes can be quite pricey.  The upkeep of the greenery and flowers in the landscape can be costly and time-consuming.  So can building beautiful hardscapes such as retaining walls, patios, and walkways. However, if you are worried about the budget, you can still create compelling landscapes using cost-effective landscaping materials.  Below are 10 of the most affordable landscaping materials that you can use to create landscapes that are just as beautiful as the expensive ones.  

1. Mulch - Don't Write Off the Traditional!

If you are looking for cheap landscaping material, mulch would be one of them. Mulch is a combination of various organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves, bark nuggets, wood chips, and other organic matter.  Mulch is typically used to keep the soil moist.  However, you could use it for different reasons for your landscaping projects. Mulch comes in a variety of colors and textures.  It could be dark brown, like the color of rich soil, or it can be reddish-brown, like the color of clay.  It can also be soft and loose like dirt, or it can be hard like woodchips.   Mulch is relatively cheap, running from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars depending on the mulch type.   

2. Shredded Leaves - A Colorful Option

shredded leaves for a landscaping project

In the autumn, leaves fall off of trees, leaving a colossal mess scattered throughout the yard.  Although these dead leaves are no longer useful once they fall from the tree, a homeowner can put them to good use in a creative way by using them in landscaping projects.  These leaves can be raked up, compiled, and shredded in a leaf shredder.  If you don’t have access to a leaf shredder, you can use a lawnmower to cut them up while they are still on the ground and then rake all of the shredded leaves up and store them until you are ready to use them for your landscaping project.  The variety of yellows, reds, browns, and oranges make a robust pop of color with any landscaping project you undertake.  Considering the leaves are free from the tree in your yard, there will be minimal costs involved in any landscaping project using dry leaves.  Another cheap material that can be used in landscaping is shredded leaves. Although most homeowners use them in compost, they can also be used as a very colorful mulch in a rose garden.

3. Pea Gravel - The Cheapest Stone on the Market!

landscaping using pea gravel

Pea Gravel is a small brownish or gray stone usually found near lakes or ponds.  It is typically used as gravel for walkways, patios, and other places where foot traffic is high.  Pea gravel is very useful in landscaping projects because it is a smooth stone.  Pea gravel is one of the cheapest stones you can use in landscaping.  It costs about $10-50 for a ton but increases in price based on color and how much is needed for the project.  

4. Bark - Unconventional Can Be Cost-Effective

Bark, also known as landscape bark, is a decorative type of landscaping material from pine, spruce, fir, or redwood trees.  It is usually created by scraping the bark off fallen or cut trees, and it is then sold to gardening stores as mulch.  Bark can last up to ten years with the right elements, such as soil and water.  The variety of colors and textures make bark a perfect option for landscaping projects. It can also be relatively cheap, costing anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars.  

5. Rocks - Don't Knock it Until You Try it!

rocks used in a cheap landscape

Although pea gravel is a very cost-effective stone to use in landscaping, rocks can be an even cheaper alternative if you find them for free in certain places.  These places can be in construction areas or farms. You can get rocks for free as long as you ask for permission.  Another place can be in your local forests.  You can remove rocks as long as the forest is not a national park. If you cannot acquire free rocks, they are also available at a relatively low price at home improvement stores or gardening stores.  The price could be anywhere from a few dollars a bag to hundreds of dollars, depending on how large the landscaping project is.  The various colors and textures of rocks can make them perfect for landscaping projects. Do you love rocks and stones?  Why not create landscapes with a perfect blend of greenery and a wide assortment of rocks ranging from river rocks to pea gravel?  The variety of colors and textures set against grass, flowers, and even flowing water can create a very serene backyard retreat.  

River Rocks

River rock is similar to pea gravel, but it is usually found near rivers.  These rocks are generally shaped by the river’s moving water and come in various shapes and sizes.  They are typically gray-colored but can also come in beige. River rock can range between $50 – 300 dollars per ton.   

Lava Rocks

Lava rock comes in a variety of colors, such as brown, gray, and black.  It is lightweight because it is a very porous, igneous rock. It is often used as mulch and is very cheap.  A bag can cost $7, and a ton could cost nearly $100.  

6. Brick Chips - A Great Way to Repurpose Common Materials

brick chip used in affordable landscape

Brick chips are made from bricks that have been crushed.  They are typically a deep red color and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They are usually used as mulch, or sometimes they can be used as filler between brick pavers.  Brick chips can range from $80 per yard upwards of hundreds of dollars.  

7. Sand - Bring the Beach to Your Backyard!

Sand is not just a material that can be found on beaches around the world.  It is typically used for playgrounds, but it can be used in creative landscaping projects, too.  Sand, depending on the type and color, can be very cheap, ranging from $5 – 30 per ton. Sand can be used in a convenient way to act as filler between brick pavers.  However, there are some other creative ways to use sand. A great way to improve the landscape's ambiance and relaxation quality is to create a Zen garden using sand. This could serve as a great place to not only relax but also to meditate outdoors.  If you want to be ambitious, you can take your backyard landscape and turn it into a beach retreat.  You could include things like an area for volleyball games, sandboxes for the kids, and other things that make you think that you are at the beach every time you enter your yard.

8. Pine Needles & Cones - Find Them in Your Own Backyard

pine cones used for a landscape

Pine cones are parts of a pine tree that keep a pine tree’s seed safe.  These are often seen scattered through the yard in the fall and are nearly as plentiful as leaves.  If you have a pine tree in your yard, you can collect its cones and needles for your next landscaping project.  However, you can also purchase pine needles and cones from gardening or a home improvement store.  The price of pine cones is typically 50 cents per pound. Most people use pine cones for mulch or in compost, but did you know that there are some other creative ways that you can use pine cones?  Did you know that you can use them as a creative border around your plant garden?  They could serve a dual purpose acting as a decorative liner while also serving as mulch.  

Pine needles also have nutrients that can feed your garden plants.  If you spread a layer of pine needles around the base of your plants, then it will help nurture them and keep weeds at bay.

Ideas Using These Cheap Landscaping Materials 

Now that you have an idea of some of the cheapest landscaping materials on the market, what can you do with these materials?  Keep in mind that just because the materials you use are cheap doesn't mean that the project results will look cheap. Some of these materials can produce some of the most magnificent landscapes ever seen.   

Don't Break the Bank on Your Landscaping Project! An Affordable Landscape is Possible

Landscaping can become a costly project.  The combination of hardscapes and softscapes can drive landscaping into the thousands, even tens of thousands depending on the detail.  You don’t have to break the bank to create a front or backyard space that works perfectly for you and your family.  Your landscape can be just as beautiful as some of the more expensive designs. You can create a much more budget-friendly landscape using various affordable landscaping materials and gorgeous hardscaping features.  Whether you want to create a healthy haven for you to enjoy in the spring or a fun space for you and your children in the summer, these inexpensive materials can help.  You can create softscapes juxtaposed with varying textures of hardscapes such as rocks, tree bark, and gravel, all for an affordable price. 

If you're in need of affordable landscaping services, feel free to contact the professionals at Sarasota Landscaping & Design. We have the expertise you need to make cost-effective decisions and stay under budget.

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