Sketch your yard and include the contours of your home, together with all the terraces, trails, paths, flower surfaces and structural walls. Add characteristics that you want, and then split the project into phases, so you can work little by little and with that reduce the amount of money that you need to spend.
Think about consulting with a landscape architect and show him your sketches. You can get expert advice for a lot less money than it would take you to leave the whole job from scratch.
1. Use gravel, crushed stone, concrete plates and cast concrete for the cheapest trails and paths. If you use gravel, choose pieces of crushed stone or angular gravel, for the highest friction. Avoid round gravel or other types of smooth stone. Destroy weeds as soon as you see them.
2. Equip your existing terraces or yards with cheap furniture for sitting and a table here and there. Find furniture that is on sale in big stores or buy used furniture. Good offers can be often found at the end of summer. Decorate the area with some fertile lining or with a carpet, pot plants, maybe even some pieces of wall art. Add torches, lamps, lanterns or candles for an evening ambiance.
3. Add a water element that you will make by yourself. The equipment for making water elements can be bought in stores for home decoration and you can easily install them in your yard or terrace.
Make a structural wall where you need to, use concrete blocks with a texture made for this purpose. Wooden bars that you will decorate with vines are another great and simple addition that can be charming and create privacy.
4. Sharpen the blades of your mower every six weeks during the summer months, it keeps your grass healthy. Use fertilizer for your lawn, it will help to keep it green and fresh.
5. Sketch a new flower garden with a garden hose for getting modern curved shapes, define the edges with rocks that will stop the flower garden from mixing with the lawn.
6. Invest most of your budget into plants, trees, bushes and flowers that are native to your area and will most likely keep blooming. Plant all the plants you love and you think look beautiful, but are sure that they can survive in your area. Start with the seeds of the plants in a closed space, buying plants and trees at the end of the summer when they are on sale.
If you are growing your plants inside during the winter and planning to move them outside during the summer or spring, make sure you have quality grade blinds (for example Roman blinds) so you can control the amount of light your flowers or plants get.
It is often worth investing in the largest trees you can afford, because they grow slowly, and bigger trees have a much greater influence on the landscape. But, choose carefully. In some species, smaller trees are better for moving than bigger trees, and will actually grow faster.