5 Easy Landscaping Projects to Tackle This Weekend That Will Make Your Yard Look So Much More Elevated

Transform your yard in just one weekend with these easy landscaping ideas straight from our award-winning design experts

(Image credit: Mellon Studio. Landscape Design: Garden Studio Design. Interior Design: Brooke Wagner Design. Architect: Brandon Architects. Build: Patterson Custom Homes.)

It’s official, when it comes to landscapes, I’ve got champagne taste, but a lemonade budget.

But that doesn’t seem to stop me cramming my Pinterest boards full of dream greenhouses, lush veg patches, or extensive Mediterranean-inspired dining areas.

Finding the time and energy to transform your backyard can be a challenge in itself, let alone when you’re trying to do a full luxury-inspired overhaul. Surely there’s got to be some quick and easy alternatives, right?

According to the experts, there definitely are! Gone are the endless weeks of work, because with our expert’s tricks, you’ll have 5 easy-to-achieve luxury-inspired landscape tips ready to march into spring with.

1. Revive old plants

purple flowering salvias along a small garden border with a stone wall behind

(Image credit: Manolo Langis Photography. Design: Garden Studio Design)

The first place to start when renovating a backyard is to examine what you already have. Plants age just like a property does, and if you’re looking at plants that have been there for decades then chances are they’re probably past their prime.

'Plants have a lifespan and when that lifespan expires they can either look tired and/or die,' the award-winning team behind Garden Studio Design explain. 'Replace aging specimens with resilient evergreen shrubs like Pittosporum 'Golf Ball', Westringias, Little Ollies, or Boxwood Globes.'

But if your plants are already looking ok, there’s another super-quick trick you can do which will not only look great but be great for your plant’s health this summer. 'Don't underestimate the power of fresh mulching or gravel at the base of your planter beds, elevating the aesthetic appeal while providing essential nourishment to your plants' says the Garden Studio Design team.

2. Add vertical interest to small spaces

a neutral paved patio area with a cream outside chair, table and large plant pot with climbing plants in the background

(Image credit: Charlotte Lea Photography. Landscape Design: Garden Studio Design. Interior Design: Erica Delorme.)

If I’ve learned anything about landscaping ideas, it’s that small spaces can be just as beautiful as larger ones. Plus they often come with the added convenience of being much easier to manage.

The experts’ advice for easy small garden fixes? Look to your vertical space.

The Garden Studio Design team say 'Incorporating espaliered vines, particularly fruit trees, offers a vertical gardening solution that optimizes space. By training these trees against walls or fences, you not only add visual interest but also create opportunities for harvesting in a smaller footprint. This approach is ideal for those seeking to cultivate a garden that yields both beauty and produce within confined areas.'

Spring is a great time to plant espalier fruit trees. To give them the best start, dig a hole that is twice as large as its pot and incorporate lots of nice organic compost into the surrounding area. Plant the tree and backfill with more compost, water well, then add a layer of bark as mulch around the base to help suppress weeds and increase water retention.

Some of the best trees to espalier are the dwarf apple tree ‘James Grieve’, Cherry Tree ‘Kordia’, and Pear Tree ‘Concorde’.

3. Look into your landscape lighting

a black pathway light in the border beside a stone paved path

(Image credit: Riley Starr Photography. Design: Garden Studio Design)

From planting and perennials to hardscaping and drainage, there are dozens of elements that go into landscape design. But one you probably haven’t thought about as much is lighting.

Now summer is on its way and we’re spending more and more time outside, modern garden lighting is going to be essential for providing ambience and practical working light at your next cook out or barbecue. The good news is it’s super easy to improve your garden’s lighting design – in fact, all you need is a free weekend!

'Once the sun goes down, your yard will take on a whole new look with the subtle glow of light illuminating it. We highly consider the use of uplights on statement trees to accentuate their beauty, highlight climbing vines on walls for added drama, or illuminate property line hedges to define boundaries', says the design team at Garden Studio Design.

'We also enjoy to strategically placing path lighting along walkways to not only enhance safety, but also create a visual experience for guests as they are encouraged to pursue a desired pathway through your garden after the sun sets.'

For easy eco-friendly lighting solutions, opt for solar-powered pathway lights and festoons. Not only are they easily portable, they’re easy on the wallet too!

4. Incorporate green seams into hardscaping

a large cream corner bench on a patio with a firepit

(Image credit: Vanessa Lentine. Landscape Design: Garden Studio Design. Interior Design: Mindy Gayer. Design Architect: Craig S Hampton. Build: RDM General Contractors.)

Hardscaping areas like patios and pathways are big giveaways for tired yards. But updating these high-footfall areas doesn’t have to mean starting again.

According to the experts, adapting your hardscaping with smaller ‘green seams’ can be a great opportunity to add character without overhauling entire paved areas.

“Incorporating a green seam not only introduces visual relief while enhancing the natural aesthetics of your landscape, but also plays a crucial role in its structural integrity, particularly in environments where heavy usage of concrete or stone is prevalent.”

But what actually is a green seam? Green seams are small borders of low-level planting that are positioned as a transition between two areas of hardscaping.

The Garden Studio Design team explain 'Strategically placed between concrete elements, these green seams act as a safeguard against potential cracks caused by shifting ground, particularly relevant in regions like the west coast. Consider integrating them between key features such as a firepit and hardscape, a BBQ counter and hardscape, or even between coping and the pool deck, seamlessly blending beauty with functionality to create stunning transitions throughout your outdoor space.'

5. Add evergreens for essential structure

front garden with evergreen shrubs

(Image credit: Vanessa Lentine. Landscape Design: Garden Studio Design. Interior Design: Mindy Gayer. Design Architect: Craig S Hampton. Build: RDM General Contractors.)

Creating a yard or balcony that looks good year-round is the foundation of every successful landscape design, and according to the Garden Studio Design team, nothing meets that criteria more than evergreen shrubs.

'For steadfast beauty throughout the seasons, we suggest sticking to an evergreen shrub plant palette in your landscape design. There is a time and place for annuals, but for the most part we recommend sticking to a plant palette that is going to provide you with a lush, green garden year-round,' say the Garden Studio Design experts.

'Most of our favorite plants are of Mediterranean origin, which is a huge bonus considering their naturally low maintenance and watering requirements. By predominantly using evergreen shrubs and complementing them with perennials like lavender, salvia, and roses, you achieve a dynamic garden with seasonal pops of color.'

To make your evergreen update as easy as possible, take a moment to look at the evergreens your yard already has and identify the main planting areas. Try not to overwhelm the beds with evergreens, instead opt for just a handful of them scattered throughout the area to add lush green year-round structure and allow your spring bulbs and perennials to shine through.

Matilda Bourne