Many of us struggle to grow a beautiful (but high maintenance) garden. Between work, family and other responsibilities, it’s simply hard to find the time.
Rather than let your garden fall by the wayside, consider making some small changes to save you time and hassle in the long run. Use these low maintenance landscaping tips, so you can spend more time enjoying your garden, and less time maintaining it.
Low Maintenance Landscaping Tips & Strategies
Mulch is a must-have for a successful, low maintenance garden. It looks great, and gives garden beds a nice, finished look, but it does so much more:
Mulch helps prevent weeds
Mulch acts like a blanket, insulating plants from extreme heat and cold
Mulch keeps moisture in the soil, saving water
Use wood, stone & other natural elements
Adding “zero-scaping” elements to the garden provides great structure and interest - and requires absolutely no effort to maintain. Try incorporating flagstone pathways, gravel “rivers,” and accent boulders or driftwood to fill in empty space or hide hard-to-grow areas.
Plant container gardens
An easy and fun way to add lots of color and charm is to use containers throughout your landscape. A time-tested formula for success is to include a tall “Thriller” in the center, surround it with smaller and wider “Fillers”, then tuck in trailing “Spillers” vining plants at the edges to soften the look.
You can easily personalize the look by choosing a uniform palette of containers. Modern gardens rely on repeating industrial style containers in tall squares or rectangular shapes. Funky, eclectic cottage gardens can use a collected hodge-podge of colors and styles.
Put them on drip irrigation, and you won’t have to fuss with them beyond planting them up. Have fun with this!
Plant plenty of perennials
Unlike annuals, which look great for a short time but die at the end of every season, perennials come back year after year, and they look better over time. Buy them once, and enjoy them for years to come, no extra planting or buying required.
Stagger flowering times
Enjoy beautiful blooms from spring through fall by planting flowers that bloom at different times. Start off the season with spring bulbs, such as Hyacinths and Daffodils, followed by Cherry Blossom trees and Roses. In summer, Hydrangeas steal the show, followed by fall-blooming Asters. It’s a low-maintenance way to enjoy beautiful color most of the year!
Pick plants suited to your area and garden
If you want a truly low maintenance garden, you have to work with Mother Nature. Only use plants that thrive in your area. Take your local USDA growing zone, annual rainfall, and weather patterns into account, and base your plant selections on that.
In other words, if it doesn’t work well, don’t force it.
Xeriscaping is a water-wise way of gardening in hot, dry climates. Choose the right plants, like Succulents, and you'll be grateful!
Hydrangeas, for example, thrive in many gardens, but they struggle in dry, cold climates. Trying to grow them in these environments would take a great deal of work, and they are less likely to survive in the long term. Stick with something else, like Snowball Viburnum, that flowers beautifully with half the effort in more arid climates.
Planting the right tree or shrub for your climate isn’t enough for a low-maintenance landscape; you also have to plant them in the right spot. Get to know your garden’s shady, sunny, and part-shade areas, and match the plant to the area. Don’t forget to test your soil too!
Filter your search results by your Growing Zone and sun exposure. Plants have different needs for sun conditions that must be met for them to flourish.
When in doubt, contact the local garden experts at your nearest County Extension Office. They provide excellent free advice on common soil, weather and common pest conditions, and will let you know which plants will thrive, and which plants won’t.
One of the most common reasons garden plants die is due to improper watering. Watering issues generally boil down to:
Watering too often
Watering too little, too often
Watering at the wrong time of day
With so many ways to water wrong, it’s no surprise that so many plants struggle in their first two years. Taking care of water-stressed plants can be time consuming.
Learn how to water properly with this how-to article written by our experts
Embrace a casual style
If you want a low maintenance landscape, you might have to modify your preferred style. If formal, clipped hedges float your boat, plan to be out there shearing and trimming several times a year.If you can get in the right mindset, this could be an exercise in mindful meditation. Otherwise, this becomes a monumental yardwork chore.
Instead, get a looser, natural style by using Boxwood, Hedge Cotoneaster and Privet shrubs without pruning them. To establish new casual hedges in this style, look at our Plant Highlights on every product page. Subtract two feet from the largest number listed in the mature spread of the plant. That’s how far apart you’ll plant an untrimmed hedge, measuring from the center of one shrub to the center of the next.
The hedge will grow together, and the branches will touch, but you can plant a bit further apart if you won’t be tightly pruning or shearing them. Give yourself the gift of time, without losing any of the benefits of a beautiful hedge.
Popular Low Maintenance Plants
Let’s face it: some plants are just fussy. They require hours of fertilizing, pruning, deadheading and more. Save yourself time by planting some of these hassle-free shrubs and perennials. Remember, not all of these plants are low maintenance in every garden. Check the Plant Highlights on every product page to see if they will work in your unique yard.
Popular Low Maintenance Landscaping Shrubs
Dogwood is one of the most appealing and effortless shrubs available. Able to withstand extremely cold temperatures, it’s a fabulous addition to cool-climate landscapes. What makes Dogwood extra special is its year-round appeal: delicate white flowers emerge in early spring, followed by lush green growth in summer, bright yellow-orange leaves in fall, and - finally - brightly colored stems in winter that almost glow against the snow. You can grow Dogwood as a small tree, a stand-alone specimen, or even as a hedge.
If you want a low maintenance shrub that pollinators love, Spirea is a must-grow! These tough little shrubs thrive in hot, sunny summers, and come in several beautiful colors and forms. They bloom from summer through late fall - perfect for a splash of color after other flowers fade.
Lilacs are one of the toughest shrubs you can find. They don’t do well in warm, southern climates, but they thrive in cooler areas. These shrubs are long-lived (100+ years), and are virtually indestructible once established. And the spring fragrance is just to die for.
Rose of Sharon
These grow in many areas across the country, and offer easy-breezy style. With flowers that resemble hibiscus, Rose of Sharon brighten up your mid-summer landscape. Use these as a privacy screen, or fun single specimen near your front door or patio.
For the ultimate in low maintenance, select improved Juniper shrubs. They'll provide structure and evergreen color year round. Give Junipers the space they need to grow to their mature height and width. They are perfect for a rustic style or modern and contemporary designs.
Popular Low Maintenance Landscaping Perennials
Landscape Shrub Roses
Yes, you can have roses in your low-maintenance garden. Just select one of the incredible, improved Landscape Shrub Roses. They are pest resistant, drought tolerant, and perfect for beginners. You can find dozens of varieties, so it’s easy to find the perfect one for your landscape.
Prized for its medicinal qualities, Coneflower is a native plant that is also known for durability and ease-of-care. These beautiful perennials are drought tolerant, and widely adaptable to many different soil types. They even come in a variety of colors, from standard purple, to white, green, yellow and orange.
For gorgeous fall flowers and simple maintenance, you can’t go wrong with Sedum. These succulent perennials are extremely hardy, and well-behaved in the garden. Plant one or more in a sunny perennial bed, or along a pathway where you can enjoy their striking color.
Quick Low Maintenance Landscaping Tips:
Use straight edges to make mowing your lawn faster and easier
Group plants with similar water needs together
If you garden in containers, use bigger pots which require less watering
Grow flowers that don’t require deadheading
Invest in an irrigation system to save on time and water
A low maintenance garden doesn’t have to be boring… and a gorgeous garden doesn’t have to be high maintenance! Start applying a few of these strategies, plant smart, and soon you can enjoy a garden that has maximum impact with minimal effort. Happy planting!
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