In the first year I had the apartment, I devoted a lot of time to the interior, neglecting the garden. But by the second summer, it was time to conquer the outdoors.
The previous tenant had thrown down some gravel right on the soil, creating a scraggly mess. There were also some narrow plant beds with brick borders around the perimeter—not wide enough for any lush plantings. I dug down 4 inches to add new topsoil and used metal edging to create a curved border for wider plant beds. Then I dug out the entire center of the garden 2 inches, tamped down the soil, laid landscape fabric, and poured new gravel.
Total cost: $200, not including plants