Making your lawn look good can be expensive. Follow these tips to get the most bang for your buck and to avoid costly mistakes. By Cameron Huddleston, Former Online Editor May 14, 2010 A certain hardware store has a commercial out now that features homeowners vowing not to get involved in lawn projects that will take all summer. What I like about the ad is that it's so true for some of us -- somehow planting a few flowers morphs into a yard makeover that takes months to complete. And you've shelled out big bucks. Was it worth it? Now, I'm not saying there isn't value in a well-manicured lawn -- there is. But there are smart ways to spend your landscaping dollars, and not-so-smart ways. Here are tips from landscape designers and architects I've interviewed in the past: Do ... Sponsored Content -- Keep it simple and do it well rather than spread a budget over a lot of features that are halfway done. Advertisement -- Get a design if you're on a limited budget, then prioritize -- go in order of implementation. Start with a patio (because it adds the most value and has the most impact), then irrigation, then landscaping. -- Work with the environment you have and use native plants because they are less expensive to maintain. -- Buy quality, even if it means buying less. -- Buy used a swing set for the kids because it won't be used that long and don't justify the cost of a new one. Advertisement Don't ... -- Don't do anything you don't have the time or money to maintain. -- Don't focus on the backyard before the front. Create curb appeal first. -- Don't spend money on things you won't use (concrete curbing, lawn ornaments). Advertisement -- Don't spend a lot of money on landscape lighting. A little goes a long way, and lots of lights require more maintenance and expense. -- Don't overplant. Confine your planting to one area rather than several because it will be easier to maintain. -- Don't build an outdoor kitchen if you live in a cold environment because you'll be able to use it only one season.