Landscaping your yard can be a lot of work. Cutting grass, watering plants and weeding is time consuming and sweaty work. But there are smart tricks to creating a low maintenance landscaping design that leaves you more time to enjoy your yard, and less time slaving over it.
I’m sharing the low maintenance landscaping design we chose after hours spent researching and talking to garden experts in our area. Curious to learn more? Read on for our plan to cut back on time spent watering, weeding and mowing our yard. Let’s start with our mock up of the low maintenance landscaping design for our front. I’ll be sharing more detail on the design below, so keep reading.
Tip 1: Select Plants for Winter Interest
The base of any good landscaping design includes a foundation layer of evergreen plants. These evergreen plants will provide year round color. They will perk up an otherwise drab winter landscaping. Be sure to select plants that grow well in your garden zone, and if you are unsure, don’t be shy about asking your garden center. Also make sure you consider the mature height of these plants to avoid overcrowding and skyscraper plantings (unless that’s your jam…then go for it!).
When plant shopping at a big box store, don’t assume the plants sold are appropriate for your zone. Many big box stores ship nationwide. We’ve had the most success buying evergreen plants at a local nursery. Remember: these plants will provide year round interest, so getting the proper plant is worth the time and effort.
How did we put this tip into action?
Little Quick Fire Hydrangea: We planted four Little Quick Fire Hydrangea as a base to our evergreens. We chose this variety because they are slightly smaller at full size than regular hydrangeas, and because they provide a pink color in the summer to fall. The dried flowers will also provide some winter interest.
Chicagoland Green Boxwoods: To complement our hydrangeas, we added Chicagoland Green Boxwoods between the hydrangeas. Boxwoods are another great evergreen choice, as they stay green all year. We also added a row of boxwoods to the design for our front walkway.
Arborvitae: Anchoring the corner of our house, we chose an arborvitae tree. Arborvitae are also green all year long, and we are excited to dress it up with Christmas lights this winter. Be mindful in choosing arborvitae. Some grow quite tall and wide. We chose a smaller version which reaches a max height of 12 feet.
Tip 2: Have a Watering Plan
It’s no secret that plants need water to thrive. Not all plants require the same amount of water, so it is important to understand the watering needs of each plant you select. Particularly in sunny spots of the yard, do not select plants with high watering needs. This will increase the amount of time spent watering. Instead, select drought tolerant perennials.
In addition to choosing smart plants, a smart way to ensure your plants stay happy is by using soaker hoses. These clever hoses can be covered with mulch and provide a great deep soak during the hot days.
Our low maintenance watering strategy also included moving our plants out a few feet so they were not under our roof overhang. Rain water!
Tip 3: Layer Plant Heights
An easy rule of thumb for low maintenance landscaping: think about your design in three layers, with the tallest plants in the back. I also love the shoulder-hip-knee rule which helps me remember when and how much of a shrub to trim back. All the rule means is that it’s great to layer plants at shoulder, hip and knee height.
In our front landscaping, we layered hydrangeas at the tallest height, followed by Chicagoland Green Boxwoods, then hostas and Autumn Joy Sedum. We also have yellow daylillies planted around the boarder of our arborvitae to add some interest. Hostas, sedum and daylillies are perrenials that do really well in our climate and soil, requiring low maintenance from me. They are definite winners!
Tip 4: Check Sun Conditions
Another smart plant tip is to check the sun conditions of your yard prior to planting. Watch your yard throughout the day to get an idea of the sun conditions in different areas. Then, select plants that match the criteria. Our yard is quite shaded, so we’ve had to be pretty picky when selecting plants that will thrive. We made the mistake of planting sun loving shrubs in a shady spot, and the plants didn’t do well at all.
Tip 5: Add a Landscaping Border
Ok, ok, I know what you are thinking. Adding a landscaping border? No way! That’s a ton of work! And it definitely is work. BUT a well placed landscaping border will save on mowing time. How? No weed wacker needed! If the border is installed flush with your grass, you can mow right over the edge. We laid our paver bricks sideways to create a wider border:
Giving your flower bed some breathing room between the grass also cuts back on weeds bleeding from the lawn to your flower bed. Bonus tip: lay landscaping fabric under your landscaping border, and before you mulch, for extra weed control.
Mulch is another great way to create low maintenance landscaping. Not only does it retain moisture, but it also helps control weeds and enriches the soil as it decomposes.
So there it is. Five tips for designing low maintenance landscaping. Did you skim this? Here’s a summary: use evergreen shrubs, install soaker hoses, layer plant heights, check sun conditions and use a border with landscaping fabric.
What’d you think? This post took me a while to write because I can’t, for the life of me, spell both maintenance and landscaping right on the first try. So do me a favor, will ya? If you liked this post, pin it to your landscaping board!
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