Complete Guide to Cheap, Quick Landscaping & Garden Ideas for Renters

Finding cheap decorating ideas for your garden or yard that won’t incur the wrath of your landlord can be a challenge. But even if you're renting a home, you can still make it your own with the cheap landscaping & gardening ideas for renters we’ve offered here.

There’s nothing like the comfort of having a backyard to spend time in, especially when the weather outside is nice. For ambitious decorators, the yard can act just like an extension of your home, translating your unique style and savvy into a fun and fabulous outdoor space. But, for folks who rent rather than own their spaces, finding cheap decorating ideas for your garden or yard that won’t incur the wrath of your landlord can be a challenge.

And, it turns out a lot of us are facing this problem. In fact, the Pew Research Center reported last year that the percentage of renters in the US is currently the highest it’s been in over 50 years with a 36.6 percent renting level. Personally, I live in a postage stamp of an apartment in New York City and don’t have a yard, but for those of you who do, there’s no reason not to make the absolute most of it!

Still, it’s important to be careful with any landscaping and gardening choices as you may need your landlord’s approval or you may run the risk of losing your security deposit if you make alterations that cause permanent damage or can’t be reversed. 

Plus, you’ll want to keep costs down as much as possible since you’re living somewhere that might not be your permanent home. Thankfully, there are plenty of easy, affordable ideas for renters to landscape, garden, and decorate without angering your landlord or risking the loss of your deposit.

That’s why we’ve put together this complete guide to cheap, quick landscaping and gardening ideas for renters. Even if you're renting a home, you can still make it your own with the cheap landscaping & gardening ideas for renters we’ve offered here. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:

  • 5 of our best general landscaping and gardening tips for renters
  • 6 affordable plant and gardening items for your yard and where to buy them
  • 6 next-level landscaping items and where you can buy them for cheap

Landscaping and gardening tips for renters

Avoid anything permanent 

This one is probably a no-brainer, but any fixture that is installed permanently or will cause irreparable damage when disassembled should be avoided. For example, instead of using screws or nails to attach a planter, consider a non-permanent clamp or bracket to affix the box to your wall, window, or fence.

Think vertically

If your yard doesn’t have a ton of square footage, think about building up rather than crowding your already minimal space. This includes things like planting in vertical boxes, making vines a centerpiece, and using hanging plants.

Consider the climate

The types of plants you can grow will depend on the general temperature of your space, how much it does or doesn’t rain, and the amount and type of sunlight that your plants get. Do some research and make sure you choose plants that will thrive in your yard.

Repurposing is your friend

Buying new items for your yard can really add up, especially if you’re not sure how permanently you’ll be living in your rented house or apartment. Get creative with items you already own, or scour garage sales to find functional and decorative items for your yard. This article from Country Living has some great ideas.

Play to your yard’s strengths

Your yard might not be in top shape now, but it’s likely that there are some positive attributes that you can really play up to take it to the next level. Whether it’s setting up seating under the shade of your favorite tree, or organizing the space to accentuate a great view, you can definitely find a way to make the most of your yard.

Gardening tips for renters

Hydroponics

Many plant enthusiasts are turning to hydroponic gardening, a method where you can grow herbs, vegetables, and other plants with just light, some nutrient solution, and water. 

It’s a great option for renters because you can grow food that you can actually eat without having to dig into the soil in your yard, risking your security deposit. It’s also a popular growing method because it doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides, has a much higher yield than soil-grown plants, demands very little work from the gardener, and can be set up just about anywhere.

A great feature about hydroponic systems is that there are many ways in which you can build them yourself. DIY hydroponics setups are cheap and have been steadily gaining popularity as a simple, low-maintenance way to grow plants for yourself. These are some great free guides for making your own hydroponics setup for your yard or home:

There are also tons of options for systems that are already all set up for you. Here are a few cool products to help you get started growing hydroponic plants:

Raised beds

If you’d like to have flowers or other plants in your yard, raised beds are a simple way to add those plants, again without having to dig into any soil. With a raised bed, you’ll simply build a structure that can hold the soil necessary to keep your plants happy, then either plant seeds or transfer your flowers, herbs, or vegetables into the beds. 

You can easily build raised beds with new or repurposed wood, newspaper or leaf bags to line the bottom, and chicken wire or some other type of fencing to keep out pesky critters. If you want instructions on how to build your own raised beds, these articles are a great resource:

Of course, you can also buy pre-built raised beds at many hardware and home goods stores. Here are a few affordable options to consider:

Clamp-on, clip-on, and bracket window boxes

Window boxes are a smart way to think vertically in a small space as they allow you to have more plants without sacrificing ground space. They also add a really lovely decorative touch to your windows. Thankfully, there are plenty of options for placing window boxes on your windows, walls, or fences without using screws or nails. Some clamps and clips are even designed to create a firm grip on siding and brick, making them an extra versatile option that works with a lot of different wall and window configurations.

Check out these options to add a window box to your outdoor space:

  • Self-Watering Window Box. Garden Supply Co sells this easy-to-install window box with a self-watering feature, cutting down on work for you. It’s $39.95 and you can get 15% off when you sign up for Garden Supply’s mailing list.
  • Clamp-On Flower Box Brackets, Set of 2. You can get these brackets for under $30 on Houzz. They can be adjusted to attach to your window sill, brick, and a number of other surfaces.
  • Brick or Siding Clips. From LTD Commodities, these clips can attach to siding, brick, or steel, and are available for less than $10 per set.

Vines

You might have to bring them in yourself, but it’s also possible that you have vines growing naturally in your yard since they’re actually an invasive plant. When pruned correctly, vines are a great option for covering up an unsightly fence or wall and adding some really lovely character to your yard. Not only do vines bring life to a dull space, but they also don’t require too much care beyond a little trimming and cleaning up here and there.

These are some articles with great decorative ideas for your vines:

And, here are some places where you can purchase vines if you want to add new ones to your fences, walls, and yard:

  • Home Depot sells a nice variety of vines. Check at your nearest location!
  • Nature Hills bills itself as the largest online plant nursery and has tons of vines available. Get free shipping for orders over $125.

Potted plants

As with your indoor space, potted plants can add a touch of lush greens and beautiful flowers to your outdoor space. And, the greatest advantage of opting for potted plants in your yard or lawn is that all you need to do when it’s time to move is pick them up, pop them in the moving van, and bring them to your new space. Plus, potted plants come in all shapes and sizes, meaning you can add little decorative touches with small plants, or choose something like a tree to be more of a focal point.

These articles have some great ideas for choosing potted plants:

Hanging plants

Another great idea for thinking vertically is to opt for hanging plants. Plants can be hung from fences, verandas, or any other higher surface that can support a hook. They can also be hung from from posts or from brackets, requiring no screws or nails to put them in place. Again, hanging plants can add an interesting element to your yard, utilizing vertical space and adding multiple layers of heights and depths to your backyard terrain. 

Here are a few articles with great ideas for choosing great hanging plants:

When it comes to hanging baskets, you’ve got about a billion options. These are just a handful of good ones:

Landscaping tips for renters

Landscaping might seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re a renter with a potentially impermanent living situation. However, there are a number of small, simple tweaks you can make to your yard or lawn to make it more visually pleasing as well as functionally effective. Let’s take a look at some of the best landscaping ideas for renters. 

Grass alternatives

Nothing quite compares to having a nice, grassy and lush green space to fill out your lawn or yard. But, growing grass requires a lot of water and upkeep, plus it typically needs to be mowed on a regular basis. However, there are plenty of options to add that touch of green to your space without having to use grass at all.

Plant options

There are a number of different plants that grow much more easily and effectively than grass. Many of these plants require far less water and less tending to grow and thrive. And, most of them make great options for areas where you might have foot traffic.

Here’s a list of plants that are great, low-maintenance grass alternatives:

  • Clover
  • Moss
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Creeping Thyme
  • Chamomile
  • Sweet Woodruff

Astro turf and artificial grass

If you’re like me, you might think that astro turf is kind of a tacky solution for decorating your lawn. But, astro turf has been making a comeback recently as a eco-friendly yard option that doesn’t require any water, fertilizer, or significant upkeep. Plus, astro turf manufacturers have upped with ante in recent years, creating astroturf products that look much more like real grass than their less attractive predecessors you might remember from your high school football field. 

Artificial grass is generally quite affordable, especially compared with some of the other options that are available. It’s also fairly simple to remove should you decide to move. Check out these cheap astro turf options:

Outdoor rugs

Yes, rugs can go outdoors, too! A solid outdoor rug is a great way to cover up imperfections in your yard or place on a deck or underneath a patio table to add a nice pop of color. It’s important to get a piece that can not only hold up in varying weather conditions, but also won’t fade or age  too quickly from exposure to the sun. Check out these fabulous outdoor rugs:

Deck tiles

You might not be aware that there are removable tiles you can place over your deck to give it a fresh new feel, but it’s true! Whether you’re looking to cover your deck with a warmer wood finish, or trying to give your deck a smooth new patio feel, deck tiles are a relatively cheap renovation that can drastically improve the appearance of your deck. And, one of the best features about deck tiles is that they don’t require any screws or nails to stay in place, but rather are designed to interlock with one another through rings and pins attached to the base of each tile. When it’s time to move out, all you’ll need to do is detach the individual pieces--- easy as that!

Of course, there are a million different deck tile options out there. But, these are a few good quality and super affordable options:

Pavers

Pavers are decorative outdoor tiling typically made from concrete, stone, rubber, or another hardy material that can withstand the elements. They’re typically used to cover over unsightly parts of a yard or to create meandering paths through your outdoor space. You’ll need to be careful that you place pavers where they won’t harm the soil or grass that they cover. But, tricks like using stones or pebbles to act as “grout” are a simple way to put in place pavers without doing significant damage.

Pavers are generally a fairly cheap option as well. Here are some affordable options for pavers:

  • Square Gray Patio Stone. Lowe’s sells these classic, simple pavers for $1.85 per square foot tile. 
  • Menards has a ton of options for paving bricks, stones, and tiles, many of which are less than $1 per stone.

Other fillers

You’ve got a plethora of options when it comes to covering up soil, unhealthy grass, or other less than fabulous spaces on your yard. Here are a few great choices:

  • Mulch. Mulch is typically placed around plants in order to discourage the growth of weeds and help retain moisture. This article from Good Housekeeping is a great guide for deciding what type of mulch you should use and how to use it. You can find mulch at stores like Lowe’s for under $4 for two cubic feet of coverage.
  • Wood chips. Wood chips are a variety of mulch made from shredded up pieces of wood. You can use them around plants, create paths through your yard with them, or use them to cover up uglier parts of your yard. Wood chips are also pretty affordable, running about the same price as mulch.

Even if you’re renting your home rather than owning, you can definitely have a beautiful lawn, yard, or garden space without risking your security deposit. Take inspiration from the ideas we’ve listed here or do a little research on your own to find the best cheap ways to landscape your yard as a renter. So get out your tool kit, get decorating, and enjoy your space!

We’ve got a bunch more useful articles like this one on the Knoji blog to help you beautify your life and space, find inspiration, and save money on just about everything. And, while you’re here, head over to the Knoji homepage where we’ve answered literally thousands of questions about how you can save money at your favorite retailers, including home goods and hardware stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and HomeGoods.

1 comment

Add a comment

0 answers +0 votes
Post comment Cancel
This comment has 0 votes  by
Posted on Oct 18, 2018

Related Articles

How to Make Homemade Dog Food

Making your own dog food is an easy way to be sure the food your dog is eating is healthy for him and always safe.

The past few years the quality of many of the commercial dog food brands has come in to question. Many dog foods contain corn, which is nothing but filler, questionable meat bi-products, chemicals and preservatives. Multiple dog food scares have left owners uncertain on what brands are safe to feed their beloved pets. More and more people are choosing to feed their dogs something different from commercial food. Many people are feeding their dogs a raw diet and loving it. Those who would like an alternative to commercial food but are not quite comfortable with a raw diet, making your own dog food might be a perfect compromise.

Making your own dog food is quite easy to do and can be done for cheaper than buying a high quality commercial dog food. Homemade food can also be made in large amounts and frozen so you do not need to spend time daily making it. There are many dog food recipes online but it is just as easy to make your own. Be sure the foods you use are safe and that the food consists of 30% starch, 30% vegetable and 40% meat.

For the starch, brown rice, oats or pasta work well.

Vegetables and fruits you can choose from are carrots, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, cauliflower, yams, sweet potatoes, lettuce, beets, peas, parsnips, zucchini, watermelon, other melons, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples (no seeds, they are poisonous), cooked beans.

Lean beef, lamb, skinless chicken, venison, buffalo, elk, moose, musk Ox, turkey, rabbit, duck, boneless fish, cooked eggs, small amounts of beef and chicken liver are all excellent meat choices.

Vegetables/fruits that are not safe to use are spinach, beet greens, chard, onions, garlic, leek, tomato, potato, bell peppers, corn on the cob/corn, grapes, raisins, rhubarb, mushrooms, avocadoes, broccoli and raw beans.

Chicken skin and fat trimming are not healthy and raw fish should be avoided. Tuna sadly contains too much mercury to be safe. Large amounts of Liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity so should never be given.

Nutmeg, sugar, chocolate, nuts, milk, yeast dough, seeds and fruit pits, wheat, baby food, coffee/tea, hops, potato, salt, dairy products, apple seeds, apricot/cherry/peach pits and mustard seeds should never be given.

Calcium is also a vital aspect of your dog’s diet and can by simply added by topping their food each night with some unflavoured no fat yogurt. Yogurt can help dogs keep a balanced digestive tract and can help stop gassiness.

A few points to keep in mind:

Fresh or frozen veggies are best; do not use canned veggies as they have additives.

Dogs have shorter digestive tracts than humans have and cannot digest most vegetables whole or in large chunks. Be sure to mash vegetables up well.

Remember to feed no white coloured/bleached foods. When possible try to avoid wheat too, as it tends to make dogs gassy.

All Fish and Pork should be well cooked.

A canine multivitamin can be added to insure he gets everything he needs.

When preparing homemade dog food, it is best to vary the recipes so that your dog gets an array of nutrients.

Talk to your vet before changing to a homemade diet.

All meat should be lean and not covered in fat.

Feeding a homemade diet does take more work than simply buying a bag of kibble. However, knowing you are doing the best you can to keep your dog healthy is well worth the effort.

Why Do Cats Pee on Beds, Towels, and Dirty Laundry?

Why do cats urinate on beds, clothing, towels, and so forth? Learn what to do if a cat is peeing on items other than in its litter box. Why is my cat peeing on my bed? Why does my cat always urinate in the laundry? What is wrong with my cat she is always peeing on towels? Why dogs my male cat pee on my dirty clothing?

Some cat owners will have a strange thing happen at some time or another... their cat will pee on their bed. We all know cats are suppose to urinate in their litter box, but what are the reasons that some don't?

Some of the places that cats will select to urinate, other than their litter box, are on a bed, sofa, towels, laundry, or even carpeting. You will note they seldom pee on the floor. Just to clear things up – we are not referring to “Spraying” or marking behavior which is most often seen in male cats and is characterized by them standing with their rear end facing a (usually) vertical surface. They “shoot” their urine, and typically twitch their tail at this time.  This article is about cats who empty their bladder on the bed, towels, and such, rather than "marking territory" with small amounts of urine.

There are basically three reasons why cats pee on the bed, towels, or what have you. One is that they have a reason for not using their litter box (there are many reasons for this), an other is because you have made these sources available to them, and finally it is because these things smell like you. Let us look into these factors further.

Reasons for a Cat Not Using the Litter Box

There are a multitude of reasons cats fail to use their litter box to urinate. They could have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), they could have a behavioral problem, or somehow you failed to keep the litter clean, locatable, and of the right type of litter. Perhaps another cat is not allowing them to use their litter box, or the door was shut to the room where it is.

There are so many reasons, in fact, that if a cat is having this problem, one should try to determine the source, a link is available here to help finding out the cause of a cats refusal to use the litter box.

Available Sources

Peeing on the floor is not fun, it splatters, and cats know this. They sometimes have the same problem when their litter box gets so low that all the litter is piled up on one side of the box. They know that fabric is absorbent, and will not cause urine to splatter on their legs.  When a kitten cannot find a litter box it will look to whatever is available.

Smells Like You

Your bed, your towels, your dirty laundry on the floor, these things all smell like you. Of course people will try saying that your cat is marking your stuff as its own, but really we do not know what the cat is thinking when it urinates on your bed or clothing. Many theories exist, including that they use this as a way of stating their anger with you, but this is really just guess work. The fact is your cat does not pee on you (hopefully), just your soft stuff, so perhaps your cat thinks of this in a familiar sort of way.

What Can be Done to Prevent, or End, the Problem of a Cat Peeing on your Stuff

Assuming again that the cat is spayed or neutered, and is not spraying... and assuming the cat is not suffering from any kind of urinary tract infect, diabetes, and so forth, there are some things we can do. First amend the problem as mentioned in the link also mentioned above relating to why it cats fail to use the litter box in the first place.

Keep bedroom doors shut and/or keep clothing picked up or in a hamper (with a lid). Try spending a few minutes every day with the cat, patting it, or giving it treats. Keep the home as stress free as possible (do not allow kids to chase your cats). If you must, shut the cat up in the room where the litter box is located at night (with food and water of course), or when you are away, thus reinforcing it to use the litter box, but only if you have filled it with the correct litter, and it is placed in an appropriate spot to begin with (not next to a laundry machine or furnace).

Be aware that cats do not understand discipline for this problem. Rubbing the cats nose in “it” will not help, and may only add to the stress and confusion the cat is experiencing – thus making the problem worse.

Please read the link on why cats fail to use their litter box as this is the start to the problem of them using your bed, towels, and so forth, as a litter option.

Costs of Owning a Pet Tiger

Many people think it would be cool to own a tiger as an exotic pet, but what are the costs of owning a pet tiger? Where do you buy pet tigers? How much land do you need to have to keep a pet tiger? How tall of a fence do you need for a pet tiger? What states allow tigers as pets? Do I need to have a permit to have a pet tiger? How much does it cost to feed a tiger?

Many people think that having a pet tiger is a great idea, but most people can not afford to care for a tiger properly, let alone buy one. Even if you can buy one, pay for its feed, provide it with enough space, is a tiger really a good pet for you? Let us find out.

For the most part this article is written for people in the United States wishing to buy and own a pet tiger, but some of the information is also good for people in other countries. To note somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 tigers are kept as exotic pets in the United States, in fact more tigers are kept as pets now than there are in the wild.

It also must be said that pet tigers are not allowed everywhere, before you even consider it (and I am not suggesting you should really consider getting a tiger at all) you must check out the laws and regulations concerning owning a pet tiger.  Even if your state allows you to keep a pet tiger, the area you live in may not.  In terms of owning a pet tiger, these exotics are considered "large carnivores", and are banned in most states.

How Much do Pet Tigers Cost?

Tigers cost roughly $10,000 and up, with certain colors (white tigers) costing more. Tigers are sold directly from breeders (often on the Internet) and sometimes through odd and unusual exotic pet auctions.

How Much Does it Cost to Feed a Tiger?

Tigers are the largest of the “big cats” you must make sure you can afford to feed it and have a steady supply of meat, they should not be fed dry cat food. Many people feed horse meat or beef, at a cost of $1,500 to $2,500 per year.

How Much Land do I need to Own a Tiger?

In many places where pet tigers are allowed it is a requirement that you own at least 5 acres. In other words you cannot keep a tiger in your city backyard no matter ow good of a fence you have. In some cases the tiger not only needs a proper enclosure but your property also requires an additional 8 foot perimeter fence, mostly to keep people out!

Other Expenses for Owning a Pet Tiger

I should not have to say this, but anyone who does not spay or neuter their tiger is asking for trouble. The tiger will need to be vaccinated and wormed, having a veterinarian who is willing to do this things may present a challenge in itself. There could be unexpected expenses due to health or injury.

©art by author, not for reproduction

Other Concerns with Owning a Pet Tiger

Of course there are the obvious concerns regarding safety, big cats have big risks. They can turn mean without warning. If they hurt you that is bad enough, but if they hurt somebody else you may have a potential lawsuit on your hands in addition to having your pet removed.

In regards to veterinarian expenses, just how you are going to get the big cat to the vet and back, do not assume you can just put it in the back of your car. Even if you could most vets will not look after “loose” big cats, they require them to be in a proper cage, called a “Squeeze”. Some veterinarians will come to your property (they charge mileage) but again, the cat must be contained.

Many tigers in the pet trade are inbred, particularly the white ones. In some cases this makes them more prone to health problems and shortens their lifespan.

You need to have a proper waste management system. What will you do with all the feces and urine?

One More Point about Owning a Pet Tiger

Many people get tigers and find, for one reason or another, that they cannot care for them. There are only a handful of places that take rescued tigers and those places typically report that they cannot help all the animals they are asked to help, in other words many former “pet” tigers are being killed.

On the whole, rather than considering buying a pet tiger it would be far better to donate to help the tigers already in captive rescue situations, such as the Shambala Preserve in California, or other big cat rescues.

States that Allow Tigers as Pet

States that Currently (as of January 2012) allow Tigers as pets, are as follows:

Alabama, Arizona – permit needed, Delaware – permit needed, Florida – permit needed, Idaho – permit needed, Indiana – permit needed, Kansas – license needed, Maine – permit needed, Minnesota – registration needed prior to 2005 can only replace an animal once if they had one registered before this date and it died since, Mississippi – permit required, Missouri – must be registered with law enforcement and have a permit, Montana -permit needed, North Carolina – regulated by the county, North Dakota – permit needed, Ohio – need health certificate for importing, Oklahoma – permit required, Pennsylvania – permit required, Rhode Island – permit and proof of secure premises required, South Carolina, South Dakota – permit required, Texas – license required, Virginia – license required, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Note- This articile is not to endorse tigers as pets, overall they are not suitable for pets in most situations, and many are suffering as pets even now.