If you have the land and plenty of energy but not a great deal of money, it is perfectly possible to landscape the garden beautifully on a tight budget.

The first step in taking over a new area and starting to landscape it is to clear the ground. If you can already see what you want to do, and this will involve a great deal of earth-moving, stone-moving, ditch-digging, then you can either decide to act as a human bulldozer for a year (by which point you may be heartily sick of the whole project), or you can hire a mini-digger for a weekend. This may be the only expenditure you have, so don't grudge it. A mini-digger will cost not much more than $150 for a Cheap Landscaping Designsweekend hire. In mid-week, when it may be in demand from builders and other professionals, the rates will be higher. When you have the digger, you do not want it standing idle while you try to work out what to do next. You need to get your full money's worth out of the digger and this means making a detailed plan in advance of exactly what you are going to do with it. It may also be possible to share the cost with a neighbor who needs a couple of hours work done in his yard.

If, on the other hand, your yard is level and is simply problematic because it is very overgrown, this may be a matter of tackling it with a heavy duty trimmer and brushcutter, but, if you don't have and can't borrow these, there is an easy alternative. In really filthy ground, put in a dozen chickens. You can buy them for less than a pound each from a battery farm and can knock up a house for them out of scrap timber. Their laying days are considered to be over, although they will continue to give you a good few eggs for a year, but they will make a good job of completely baring the ground in a few months, and can then be turned into soup. A pig would be better, but is also a bigger investment. On the subject of animals, once you have landscaped the land and have a great sweep of grass that needs to be regularly mown, a couple of sheep will do this beautifully. They will cost less than a lawnmower, and if you borrow them from a farmer in return for the grazing, may cost nothing at all.

Once the ground has been cleared, regular mowing, by machine or sheep, will soon turn it into grass rather than weed, without any need to buy grass seed.

Hedge your boundaries, not by buying expensive hedging plants, but by taking cuttings of flowering currant and willow. These both root very easily indeed. Prepare the ground by digging it over along the boundary and simply stick the cuttings in, firming them down with the heel. They will not all take, but enough to start a good hedge. The taking of cuttings is the obvious way to landscape a garden without expenditure. For most things, however, you will need something better than the rough and ready method you can use with willow and currant.

Knock together a strong wooden box, 14 to 18 inches deep and two feet by 18 inches long – these are approximate measurements – the important one is the depth. Drill drainage holes in the base and fill the box with a mixture of leaf mold, river sand and soil. The idea is to have a fairly light, sandy soil, however you get it – soil from a rabbit hole can be excellent! Have a piece of glass that will fit over the box. In this you can place cuttings taken from other people's gardens (Always ask first – gardeners are a generous breed and will be happy to let you have them) – roses, cystus, , fuchsias, hydrangeas, ceanothis, broom, japonica, all the buddleias, all the spiraeas and many others will grow well from hardwood cuttings taken in the autumn. Experiment with anything you see growing. You can plant an acre with exciting flowering shrubs which cost you not a penny!