How to get a low-maintenance landscape
What homeowner wouldn't want a lush and colorful garden just outside the window? But while a garden definitely boosts your home's curb appeal, it also claims a lot of your free time. There's no such thing as a maintenance-free garden, but choosing smarter plantings does cut down on the amount of pruning and watering required. So, the next time you plant, try some of these lovely options that take care of themselves. Then get ready to enjoy your new low maintenance landscaping—from the comfort of your porch swing.
Forsythias are early bloomers whose yellow flowers signal the start of spring. To ensure your forsythia is in top form, you'll want to prune the bush occasionally and plant it in full sunlight. Available on Etsy; $21.
Vinca Minor (Periwinkle)
Also called periwinkle, vinca minor is one of the most low maintenance flowering plants you could ever plant in your garden. This trailing variety is used as a ground cover to suppress weeds and add evergreen beauty. The plant produces purple blooms throughout spring and summer. Available on Etsy; $10.50.
The vibrant lavender, purple, and magenta blooms of a Texas ranger may look like they take some work to care for—but we won't tell the neighbors your secret. This hardy plant is built to survive on little water, so all you need to do is plant it in full sunlight, and water during the summers or in times of drought. Available on Etsy; $15.99.
There's a reason why these evergreen low maintenance shrubs are a popular choice for borders and entryways. Their tolerance for drought coupled with their ability to adapt to almost any soil type makes for easy care. Yews thrive in partial to full sun in Zones 4 to 8 and reward you with beautiful (but inedible) fruits in early autumn. Available at The Home Depot; $30.97.
Related: 9 of the Best Shrubs for Any Garden
There's a reason you see this shrub in many corporate landscaping schemes: Barberry is extremely low maintenance, yet it stuns with seasonal color. Ideal for foundation plantings or hedges, barberry can tolerate many soil types. The plant needs occasional pruning, but not much more than that in the way of regular care. Available at The Home Depot; $32.97.
In Zones 5 to 9, bottlebrush buckeye does well in full sun or deep shade, so long as it gets enough water. Disease-free and rarely needing a prune, the slow-growing low maintenance shrubs can reach an impressive height of about 15 feet. In late spring and summer, its white blooms attract attention from birds, while in autumn, its lush foliage turns a beautiful gold.
For gardeners who want a colorful garden but don't have time to tend to it, just about any ground cover will do—but ajuga, with its glossy leaves, is an especially interesting choice. Available in a range of colors from green to burgundy, ajuga is a creeping plant that will spread if you don't control it, so be mindful of where you place it. Available on Etsy; $20.99.
Gold Thread Cypress
Gold Thread Cypress is a low maintenance shrub perfect for both foundation and accent plantings. It’s got a compact habit and is slow growing, so it requires very little pruning. Despite its exceptional golden color, it is evergreen, and will shine bright in your landscape all year long. Available on Amazon; $34.99.
Blue Mist Spirea (Bluebeard)
Heat-resistant, drought-resistant and deer-resistant, this hardy pollinator plant does well in full sun to partial shade. The low-maintenance shrub sends forth blue flowers in summer, and needs little more than seasonal pruning to keep it growing strong. Available at The Home Depot; $17.99.
A perennial bloomer, Coreopsis will delight you with color from early summer to early fall. In colors like yellow, orange, pink, purple, and red, Coreopsis makes wonderful cut flowers that can be enjoyed inside as well as out. It’s an easy grower, and tolerates most any soil condition. Available on Amazon; $9.95.
A small and slow-growing evergreen shrub, Indian Hawthorn stays neat and tidy without pruning. It’s not fussy about soil, and once established, it will tolerate moderate drought. It bursts forth in spring with pink or white clusters of flowers, which give way to dark blue berries that attract birds and other wildlife the rest of the year. Available at The Home Depot; $32.98.
Related to the carnation, Dianthus comes in multiple varieties, so there’s one for nearly every garden scenario. It has abundant flowers and is long blooming for a delightful display all summer long. Some varieties are even perennial, and it will self-sow easily. Once planted, it needs little tending to put on a good show. Available on Amazon; $9.95.
Mondo Grass Low Maintenance Plants
Whether your garden beds lie on the sunny side or the shady side of the house, black mondo grass will do well just about anywhere you plant it. Resistant to rabbits and deer, this evergreen ornamental grass will survive just about anything nature sends its way—as long as it has adequate moisture. Available from Burpee; $13.95.
The low maintenance, shade-tolerant hosta needs a steady supply of moisture but will thrive in almost every soil type. They grow best in Zones 2 through 10 and benefit greatly from morning sun. Water in the morning to prevent the leaves from getting burned by the sun, and keep the plant hydrated throughout the day as needed. Available on Amazon; $23.95.
Liriope (Monkey Grass)
Monkey grass is often misidentified as mondo grass, and vice versa, but this ornamental clumping grass is actually from a different family altogether. Bursting with purple (or white, depending on the variety) flowers in late summer, and laden with dark berries in fall, this evergreen plant stuns all year round. Available on Amazon; $35.49.
These drought-tolerant flowers look bright and chipper even in the sweltering summer heat, which makes them a great choice for the forgetful gardener. Black-eyed Susans will attract butterflies to your garden, but they also entice deer and rabbits, so plant them near repellant (and easy-care) plants like lavender or rosemary. Tend to your black-eyed Susans by planting them in full sun or partial shade, then watering and deadheading as needed. Available on Etsy; $13.
Related: 10 Foolproof Flowers Anyone Can Grow
Available in several varieties and colors, fountain grass is an attractive tall clumping grass that thrives in full sun. These plants need little care—you may not even need to water it once established, as long as you live in an area that receives rainfall. Cut it back in late winter or early spring and watch new growth shoot upward as the weeks roll by. Available on Amazon; $21.98.
With a variety of different sizes, textures, and growing requirements, sedge is an ideal alternative to turf lawns. Ideal for low maintenance landscaping, these plants thrive in Zones 7 to 10, whether in partial or full shade, and require little to no mowing, fertilizing, or watering. Available on Etsy; $12.
Varieties of creeping sedum, also known as stonecrop, have gained popularity in recent years. They can tolerate poor soil, drought, and general neglect, and will come back year after year. These succulents come in every color from bluish-gray to reddish-bronze, and can find a home in most any garden. Available on Etsy; $4.95.
Maiden Grass (Chinese Silver Grass)
Resistant to drought, disease, deer, rabbits, and other pests, maiden grass is a beautiful pick for sunny yards. Be careful with this one, though. Its hardiness has come at a cost in some states, where it has become invasive, although most ornamental varieties won't pose a problem as they're usually cultivated to be sterile. Nevertheless, take care and do your research before you plant this grass in your yard.
Gardeners seeking interest in a winter yard should consider witch hazel, which does best in full sun or partial shade. Witch hazel should be planted in zones 5-8, as they rely on cold winter lows to bring forth the beauty of their blooms. Available on Etsy; $20.
Though it does best with moist soil and partial sun, pest- and disease-free ribbon grass thrives in Zones 4 to 9, in virtually any growing scenario—full sun or shade, wet soil or dry. It rarely gets taller than one foot, but ribbon grass does quickly spread across, even steeply sloped terrain, either to your frustration or delight, depending on your aims. Available at The Home Depot; $14.92.
An Effortless Landscape
Even if you don’t have the magic touch of a green thumb, all hope isn’t lost for an attractive yard. These easy-care plants are a good start, but also consider these gardening gadgets that do some of the work for you.
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.