We couldn't afford to repaint our coral pink Tucson, AZ manufactured home. And the leased lot was landscaped with large rock we couldn't even walk across without twisting an ankle. We'd like to sell when the teens are grown, and these homes on leased lots do not appreciate in value, so we decided to make the best of it.
We shoveled out the rock and replaced some areas with smaller pea gravel ($8 a ton at a place around the corner), but mostly created raised beds of native wildflowers - seeds donated from neighbors' spent flowers and collected in the wild - and the dirt came from a site where a house had just been moved away (we were told we could have the dirt). Creeping thyme needs almost no water and becomes a lush walkable lawn when it spreads across the yard. Neighbors also gave us fruit trees saplings grown from seed.
Accents in the garden include a section of picket fence painted to match the house trim. The fence came from the dumpster. We also found two picnic benches there and they are sitting in the backyard among the new flowers and the two trees already here when we came. The local nursery also gives away all its broken pot shards. I collected the top round edges and made a scalloped border around the front of the yard and used other larger pieces to border the beds.
A homemade window box and some gingerbread accents changed the face of the house entirely. On the porch are pre-WWII cane chairs and tables we found at a yard sale for $25. We also bought 5 ceiling fans for $5 and my husband installed the ones that worked in the house. All the house plants are actually cuttings (given to me by a neighbor) in jars of water and they are so lush, you can't see the jars at all.
Now we have a pretty 30's like cottage instead of an eyesore. Our water bill hasn't gone up at all since the plants are mostly native, and neighbors say they like to walk by our home because it is so pretty.
I've been told we could easily get $65-$70K for a repossessed home for which we paid much less. One thing we did was read other people's ads to see what folks looked for when buying a home here. The ($5 used) screen door, ceiling fans, fruit trees and landscaping seem to be very high on the list of desirables. We also made a linen closet out of an unused hall closet using the white wire shelves from the kids' closets that didn't suit their needs (stuff falls down between the wire).
Perhaps the tip is: if you can't beat your home, don't also beat your brains out! Work with what you've got and you will find a way to increase it's market value and have fun at the same time!