Low Maintenance Landscape Design & Its Impact on Your Yard
By Axis Fuksman-Kumpa • December 15, 2022
We all want to have a beautiful yard, but some of us just aren’t prepared to be outside watering, weeding, mowing, and fertilizing for hours every weekend. That's why we love low maintenance landscaping.
Keep reading to discover landscaping ideas that will help you create a yard that’s gorgeous, sustainable, and requires minimal care. This means you can spend your weekend time relaxing or doing the things you love, rather than doing yard work.
What is Low Maintenance Landscaping?
Low maintenance landscaping is landscaping that, once installed, should require minimal upkeep from you. This means your weekly, annual fall and spring chores will be minimal. It’s important to note that there’s no such thing as NO maintenance landscaping unless you’re aiming for a yard that’s entirely plant-free - and if you want to rock the 100% hardscape garden look! For those of us who love green, there are many strategies for creating a low maintenance yard that looks lush but requires minimal TLC.
How to Make Your Landscaping Low Maintenance
Plant native plants
Plants that are native to your climate, soil, and geography are simply going to grow better there. Native plants are the ideal low maintenance landscaping option. This is because they require less water (thank you, deep root systems) and fertilizer (they love your soil as is) than plants that are imported from other areas. Plus, these slow and steady growers help you keep pruning to a minimum.
A little research will reveal beautiful local plants that will thrive in your low maintenance front yard landscaping or backyard landscaping plans. As an added bonus they help to restore food and habitats for local wildlife. That’s a win-win for everybody in the ecosystem!
Reduce your grass
Grass is often the standard for lawns across the country, but it doesn’t have to be. Typical lawn grass guzzles water and requires fertilizer and lots of care to keep that well-manicured green look that many people love. Tending to lawn upkeep every week is a big commitment—and running a gas-powered lawn mower for just one hour releases the same amount of pollution as a 20 mile car trip.
You can start to make a positive difference by not mowing the grass you do have as short. It’s less work for you, and letting it grow out provides habitats for pollinators.
Another option to consider is to cut back on the amount of grass included in your landscaping. Try swapping some of your turf for other ground cover crops like clover or moss which stay low to the ground and don’t require mowing.
If you love the look of grass, try hard fescue—a great no mow grass. You can also opt for more hardscaping with gravel, stone, or pavers. There are plenty of alternatives whether you’re looking to switch up part of your lawn or you’re ready for a fully no grass front yard.
Artificial grass or artificial turf is also very popular and the product has come a long way. It looks very natural and isn't obvious that it's fake grass. There are many benefits to artificial grass, including that it requires less maintenance as it doesn't need to be mowed, watered or treated at all for weeds.
Try xeriscape landscaping
Xeriscape is a landscaping technique designed to use as little water as possible and is a fantastic low maintenance landscaping idea. This is especially well suited to arid climates (it’s the perfect drought tolerant landscaping), but you don’t need to have a full desert landscape front yard to benefit from xeriscaping! There are many techniques that can apply to lawns and gardens in every climate because low water landscaping = low maintenance landscaping.
Planting with low water use plants is essential for this type of design, of course. Xeriscaping ideas include native and hardy plants with deep plant roots systems. Plan ahead and make sure to group plants with similar water and light needs together to make care much simpler down the road.
And don’t be afraid to add more hardscape to your yard. Rock gardens are a xeriscaping staple, combining hardy plants with stone and gravel in an arrangement that’s beautiful, weed-blocking, and water efficient. There are also many classic garden styles that lend themselves to xeriscaping—swapping some greenery for a pat
In addition to selecting plants with low water needs, there are other strategies to make sure that you’re using your water as efficiently as possible. While the set-it-and-forget-it power of a sprinkler system is easy for homeowners, investing in a smart water system is ultimately better for your wallet and the environment. These systems will keep track of when you do get rain to make sure that they’re not wasting water (and drowning your plants) by spritzing them immediately after a rainfall.
We mentioned grouping plants with similar water needs together—take it a step further by creating rain gardens. Rain gardens are planted areas that are sunken down below normal ground level to help collect rainwater runoff. Your thirstiest plants will love the extra dose of water, and your low water needs options will appreciate that runoff being elsewhere if you experience unusually heavy rainfall.
We always encourage skipping chemicals in your lawn and garden care. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers can run off into the water supply and they can be harmful to humans, pets, local wildlife, and a healthy soil microbiome. Plus, chemical lawn fertilizers can actually block grass from photosynthesizing—that doesn’t help you have a healthier lawn.
Hardy plants will help you skip the need for these products entirely. Native plants are suited to your local ecosystem, including pests, which means they can often forego pesticides of any kind. They’re also specialized to grow in your native soil and can grow without any added chemical fertilizers. If you’d like to give your plants a boost of nutrition, consider natural alternatives like compost and worm castings. There are also many non-chemical pest control options that will curb any tenacious leaf chompers.
Use mulch in your garden beds to control weed growth, reduce watering and protect your plant roots from the harsh sun and elements. We always recommend organic mulch when you use mulch in your flower beds.
You Can Go Low Maintenance a Little at a Time
The vast range of options for overhauling your current landscaping can feel a little overwhelming, but don’t worry—you don’t have to do it all at once. If you’re ready to redo your whole lawn and create the low maintenance yard of your dreams, that’s amazing! If you’re looking for a simple weekend project to help you cut down on your water bill, low maintenance landscaping techniques work for you too.
Low maintenance landscaping isn’t all or nothing. On the contrary, it’s all about compromise. Whether you’re committed to your turf lawn, you can’t let go of the beautiful-but-needy roses, or you’re just working on a shoestring budget, that’s okay. Pick and choose the strategies that work for you. You can chip away at your yard work and yard maintenance ideas bit by bit until you reach a level that’s the right fit.
Plus, those little actions add up—every sustainable swap helps your ecosystem.
A Few Tilly Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas
Now have some fun browsing some Tilly low maintenance friendly designs:
Meadow Garden with Gravel Patio
This Tilly landscape plan that replaced grass with a lush, meadow-style garden. The garden beds include native choices that are drought-resistant and hardy for the climate. Strategically placed trees, shrubs, and vines screen the living spaces from the wind.
Overall the new gravel is less upkeep than grass. It will need to be swept to keep in place, but overall will require less care than a traditional lawn.
Rock Garden with Drought Tolerant Plants
This yard reduced their traditional lawn and now focuses on naturalistic elements including a dry rock garden. Removing grass will lower time needed to maintain the space, eliminate pollution from lawn mowers and any chemicals that had been previously used to maintain the lawn and weeds.
Grasses, hardy ground cover and flowering shrubs are appropriate for the Texas climate and add a tropical feel and pops of color to the space.
Concrete Pavers & Gravel
The plants used in this Nevada design are a stunning focal point amongst the gravel backyard. Different textures of gravel distinguish different zones in the landscaping. Minimal doesn't mean boring here with beautiful trees strategically placed throughout for shade and beauty. Concrete pavers and a concrete patio create useable entertaining areas and not high maintenance additions in this outdoor living space.
The hardscape elements selected mean a big reduction in water usage.
We love the natural look of the coreten steel edging. The color of the privacy wall and the pops of colors from the succulents are the finishing touches to this beautiful landscape.
Lush Certified Wildlife Habitat® Yard
A lush, tropical appearance is created by layering a variety of drought tolerant plantings and grasses that have texture. A mix of native and non invasive species replace lawn and provide valuable habitat for local bird and insect populations. This yard was designed as a Tilly x National Wildlife Federation™ Certified Wildlife Habitat®.
Ground Covers & DG for the Ultimate Low Maintenance Living
Kurapia, a soft ground cover, has been added to an area where the homeowner enjoys practicing yoga. It requires little water. This naturalized garden is complemented by irregular flagstone set in gravel. Wildlife host plants are added to enhance the native ecosystem.
The decomposed granite under the fire pit area is easy to maintain and gives a nice, modern and minimalistic look.
Now we want to hear from you. What’s the next low maintenance landscaping swap you want to make for your yard?
More on Tilly
Tilly’s easy online landscape design process has been embraced by homeowners across the country and in Canada. Tilly designs front yards, backyards or your entire property. We match you with a professional landscape designer who is familiar with your region whether you are in Texas, Florida, New York or Washington.
To start our process you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your property that helps our design team understand your goals, needs and existing landscape. You can add 3d renders, lighting plans or side yards to your design package. You’ll then connect with your designer on a video call to meet them, show them your space and talk about your priorities.
When you receive your design you will be able to purchase your plants at a discounted rate through our team of plant experts and have them delivered directly to your curb. Tilly can also provide recommendations of local installers who can help you complete your landscape project.
We can’t wait to help you tackle your next yard project!