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Interested in a stunning garden that doesn’t consume your weekends? Low-maintenance landscaping is the answer. It strikes a perfect balance between lush beauty and minimal upkeep, giving you more time to enjoy your outdoor space. Whether you’re grappling with a busy schedule or seeking a garden that’s easy to manage, this post guides you through practical and effective ideas. From selecting the right plants to smart gardening strategies, we reveal how to cultivate a garden that’s both appealing and easy to maintain.

Embrace Native Plant Species

What’s the secret to an easy yet elegant garden? Native plants! These plants are naturally accustomed to local conditions, making them resilient, easy to care for, and less demanding than non-native species. By choosing the right native plants for your landscape, you can ensure a low-maintenance environment that aligns with your local climate. Moreover, incorporating native plants into your landscaping project contributes to restoring biodiversity that is often lost due to urban development.

What native species should you get? It’s always smart to speak with your local nursery to discover low-maintenance plant species that are native to your specific area. Incorporating local natives is a great way to lend your landscape design the unique character of your region. 

That said, there are many plants with huge native ranges spanning much if not all of the country. These include trees (Oaks, Dogwoods, Redbuds), shrubs (Serviceberry, Sagebrush), flowering perennials (Yarrow, Coneflower, Sage), ornamental grasses (Little Bluestem, Switchgrass), and many more plant types. Looking for a safe bet? Grab the local variety of one of these broad-range natives.  

Opt for Drought-Tolerant Plants

Water can be a scarce resource, and it’s crucial to use it wisely. One way to do this in your garden is to opt for drought-tolerant plants. This strategy not only conserves water but also saves you the hassle of regular watering, contributing to a low-maintenance landscape. The water bill savings aren’t bad, either.

These hardy plants are adapted to drier climates and require less water and maintenance. They also run the gamut of looks, from structural shrubs and colorful flowers to ornamental grasses and sculptural succulents. Some of the many drought-tolerant plants include:

  • *Agave
  • Aloe 
  • *Yucca
  • *Sage
  • *Sagebrush
  • Lavender
  • *Lantana
  • *California Lilac
  • Rosemary
  • ‘Little Ollie’ Dwarf Olive
  • *Deergrass
  • Blue Fescue
  • * indicates species native to a part of the US

Beyond aesthetics, plants like Yarrow, Beardtongue, Black-eyed Susan, and Catmint offer care advantages such as resistance to deer and tolerance of harsh conditions while attracting pollinators. By choosing these plants, you can create a beautiful garden while being mindful of water conservation. These plants require minimal watering and thrive in heat and dryness, adding beauty and resilience to your garden.

Especially in areas with frequent dry spells and water limitations, incorporating drought-tolerant plants can significantly reduce maintenance needs and resource use.

Utilize Ground Covers for Easy Landscaping

Thinking of an alternative to traditional grass that demands constant care? Consider ground covers! These low-growing plants spread horizontally and root easily, reducing your garden upkeep. Ground covers add visual appeal to gardens with their varied colors and textures, and they help connect different areas of your garden. Some popular ground covers include:

  • Emerald Carpet Manzanita
  • Creeping thyme
  • Creeping phlox
  • Silver Carpet
  • Ajuga
  • Sedum
  • Periwinkle

These ground covers are easy to maintain and can transform your garden beds into a beautiful and low-maintenance outdoor living space, replacing the traditional lawn space and enhancing your overall outdoor space.

Moreover, they protect the soil by retaining moisture and preventing soil erosion, all while suppressing weed growth. Unlike traditional lawn grass that requires extensive care, ground covers ease the burden on homeowners, making for a smarter choice in low-maintenance landscaping.

More Popular Ground Cover Options


Popular ground cover choices that can add charm to your garden while demanding minimal effort include:

  • Silver Carpet
  • *Beach Strawberry
  • *Emerald Carpet Manzanita
  • *Pigeon Point Coyote Brush
  • *Centennial California Lilac
  • *Silver Falls Dichondra
  • *Clovers
  • Creeping thyme
  • Honeysuckle
  • *Periwinkle
  • *Creeping phlox
  • Creeping Jenny
  • New Zealand brass buttons
  • Scotch or Irish moss
  • * indicates native species native to a part of the US

By creating a carpet of vegetation, ground covers fill in gaps and contribute to the effortless elegance of a pristine garden. Remember, the key to creating low-maintenance landscaping is to reduce upkeep without compromising on the aesthetics and health of your plants. 

Implement Hardscaping Elements

To further minimize maintenance while adding structure and aesthetic appeal to your garden, consider implementing hardscaping elements. Hardscaping uses materials like pavers, brick, or decorative stone to create paths, patios, or retaining walls, reducing maintenance needs in your landscape. A balanced blend of hardscaping and softscaping is key to creating an inviting garden. These elements serve not only as focal points in garden design but also define areas and add decorative touches.

Plus, hardscape elements like concrete, asphalt, brick, pavers, and stones can help reduce the need for mowing and other maintenance tasks.

Material Choices

When it comes to hardscaping, your choice of materials can greatly influence the look and upkeep of your garden. Some options to consider are:

  • Bricks: They offer distinct patterns for formal or informal looks, but may require effort to maintain alignments.
  • Composite decking: It is long-lasting and eco-friendly, albeit costlier than alternative materials.
  • Concrete: It is versatile through staining and texturing, yet may require enhancements for aesthetics and safety.

Pavers, available in various materials including concrete and brick, need a permanent border to prevent shifting. Natural stone provides durable options with rustic or formal aesthetics based on the stone’s cut and finish. Outdoor tiles require careful selection for slip resistance and compatibility with climate, plus correct installation methods. Ultimately, the right choice of hardscaping materials balances durability, cost, maintenance needs, and aesthetic preferences.

Select Low-Maintenance Trees and Shrubs

Adding to the diversity of your garden, low-maintenance trees, low-maintenance shrubs, and low-maintenance plants can provide beauty and structure without the constant need for attention. Trees like the Bur Oak are tolerant to various environments and require simple, annual pruning, making them a low-maintenance choice for larger gardens.

For smaller spaces, the Eastern or Western Redbud both offer glorious early spring blooms with minimal maintenance needs.

Top Picks for Low-Maintenance Trees 

To help you get started, here are some top picks for low-maintenance trees:

  • Shumard Oak
  • Fruitless Olive
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Sweetbay Magnolia
  • Chaste Tree
  • Texas Olive
  • Chinese Pistache
  • Marina Strawberry Tree

These trees demand minimal upkeep and can fit into various garden styles. They are especially suited for urban conditions and provide low-maintenance beauty for residential areas.

Container Gardening for Simple Landscaping

Container gardening is another fantastic strategy for effortless elegance in your garden. By planting in pots or containers, you can enhance your outdoor spaces with added color, texture, and architectural interest. The flexibility offered by container gardening allows you to easily rearrange or update elements, contributing to an effortless and elegant garden design.

Tips for Successful Container Gardening

For successful container gardening, start by:

  1. Selecting the correct container size to accommodate the top growth and root system of the plant.
  2. Paying attention to the material of the container as it can affect how quickly soil dries out, with porous materials like clay and wood drying faster than plastic or metal.
  3. Ensuring proper drainage as containers require holes or slits at the bottom to allow excess water to escape and prevent root rot.
  4. If a container lacks proper drainage holes, the double potting method can be employed where the plant is removed for watering and placed back once excess water has drained.

Elevating pots using potting feet or bricks can enhance drainage and prevent waterlogging of the plant roots.

Install an Efficient Irrigation System

An efficient irrigation system is another cornerstone of a low-maintenance garden. It offers several benefits:

  • It eliminates the need to spend time manually controlling a garden hose
  • It helps your landscape thrive in changing weather patterns
  • Precision in watering mitigates wastage and can comply with local water restrictions
  • It aids in water conservation efforts and reduces the environmental impact during periods of drought.

Modern irrigation systems equipped with smart technology offer several benefits:

  • Customizable watering schedules according to the specific needs of different parts of your landscape, optimizing water delivery
  • Even and consistent water delivery to promote uniform, healthy plant growth
  • Enhanced aesthetic appeal of your property
  • Potential increase in market value

Mulching for Low-Maintenance Landscapes

Mulching is another effective strategy for maintaining a low-maintenance landscape. The benefits of mulching include:

  • Helping to retain moisture and reduce water consumption 
  • Suppressing weed growth
  • Slowing overland water to reduce erosion
  • Insulating soil to reduce temperature extremes.

Beyond these benefits, mulch can be manipulated as a design medium, helping to establish your preferred landscape style. 

Work with a Yardzen designer to transform your outdoor space

Yardzen’s award-winning online landscape design is tailored to clients in all fifty states in the US. Our top-notch designers then develop a personalized vision for your yard, shared through 3D photorealistic designs, 2D plan drawings, and plant and material lists. Find the right design package for your needs here. 


Your design will capture the look, feel, and function you are hoping for, all while keeping costs within range.Once your design is complete, we’ll help you connect with a local contractor from our network of vetted professional landscapers and contractors to install your new design. Want to see what pros we have available in your area? You can get started with Contractor Connect here! 

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