Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Yard and Garden

Updated: Dec. 19, 2023

If you want a beautiful yard without a lot of fuss, here are six low-maintenance landscaping tips that will keep your yard looking great with minimal effort.

Use Drought-Tolerant Plants

Watering restrictions are a reality in many areas, and it makes sense to reduce watering chores whenever possible. Choose plants, trees and shrubs that require less water to thrive. There are many beautiful options that will work in a variety of soils and climates. From wild strawberries to native rocks, here are some ideas for a drought-tolerant lawn.

The key is to carefully match the plant to its site and to water it carefully for the first year or two. Once it establishes a good root system, it will mature with minimal watering.

Replace Some of Your Turf With Ground Covers

Ground Cover SedumJill King / EyeEm/Getty Images

A lot of folks love their lawns, but frankly a good-looking lawn requires a lot of care. If you replace some of your grass with an appropriate ground cover plant, you’ll slash your chore time without sacrificing a lovely yard.

Consider replacing the turf in problem spots such as shady, hot or rocky areas with a ground cover that thrives under those conditions. Check with your local extension service for a list of appropriate plants, such as ground cover succulents.

Select Carefree Shrubs and Trees

Juniper Tree beekeepx/Getty Images

Plant low maintenance shrubs and trees that won’t require a lot of your attention as they grow. There are many new plants specifically bred for their smaller stature as well as disease and pest resistance. Dwarf conifers, smaller shrubs and yard trees that reach 10 to 15 feet at maturity mean reduced pruning chores and less chance that you’ll need to remove them when they outgrow their sites or become diseased.

A dwarf globe spruce, upright juniper, barberry and smaller blooming ninebark (choose Seward “Summer Wine” or “Little Devil”) play nicely together each year with minimal pruning.

Hardscape with Permeable Materials

Patio Pavers ozgurcoskun/Getty Images

Inexpensive patio pavers set in a grid and surrounded by trap rock make an elegant, simple and environmentally friendly courtyard.

Patios, walkways, courtyards and other hardscape elements add a bit of magic to any yard and reduce landscaping chores. Choose materials and designs that allow rainwater to permeate the soil to irrigate plantings, minimize erosion and prevent runoff. These include organic mulches, gravel, stone and permeable pavers.

Mulch Heavily, Turn Soil Rarely and Plant Densely to Minimize Weeding

Keep weeding chores to a minimum by mulching heavily with compost and shredded bark. Plant things close together to shade out weeds, and avoid turning the soil, which exposes dormant weed seeds to sunlight. Instead, let the earthworms from your compost do the cultivating for you.

Minimize Labor-Intensive Plantings

Rose Bush Regina Marcenkiene/Getty Images

People love roses, but most require a lot of water, fertilizer and pesticides to look their best. That’s not to say you should give up everything you love, but choose your plantings carefully. If the majority of your landscape is relatively carefree, you’ll have more time to keep your finicky plants looking their best.