A lush green lawn full of vibrant plants and flowers can simultaneously be a source of delight and your worst nightmare: the constant mowing. Watering without getting dirty looks from your drought-conscious neighbors. Weeds—so many weeds. And why do things keep dying?
You can keep pouring money into your outdoor space, or give up and go with a scorched-earth approach. But those aren't your only options.
If you're fed up with taking care of your yard, it's time to consider a different tack: low-maintenance landscaping ideas that still look stunning. And the best part? You'll probably save some green in the process.
1. Make your place drought-resistant
Photo by Houzz
Sure, lush green lawns and shrubs can make any home look wow-worthy. But have you thought about how much work, water, and money these landscapes require?
Instead, consider xeriscaping—the practice of using drought-resistant plants, such as succulents and ornamental grasses. Xeriscaping, which literally means "dry landscape," can reduce water use by 50% or more.
"You can still make a yard look lush without being a glutton,” says Kevin Guzior, a vice president at Pioneer Landscape Centers.
2. Pick regional favorites
Photo by Curtis Horticulture Inc.
Flowers can be tricky—growing or not growing depending on the sun’s position, the percentage of clay in your dirt, the long-term horoscope of each individual leaf. Impossible, we tell you.
Instead of trying—and maybe failing—with a trunk-load of costly, exotic flowers, consider looking to your local native landscapes for easy-maintenance ideas.
"Instead of struggling to keep your plants alive, pick local greenery that will naturally thrive in their environment," says Sid Sexton, owner of Sexton Lawn & Landscape in the Mobile, AL, area. "This will greatly reduce the time you spend watering and fertilizing."
Not sure how to track down the right plants? Sexton recommends doing a web search for "native plants in [your state]" or looking for local colleges with horticulture programs.
3. Use contrasting colors
Define different spaces and draw the eye to key focal points in the yard by pairing dark and light colors. This doesn’t require a ton of work—it will probably only take a couple of hours of labor.
Consider surrounding the walkway leading to your backyard seating area with colored mulch that contrasts with the grass. Or use light decorative rock to outline the dark dirt in your garden bed.
“These low-maintenance products are easy on the upkeep and keep your yard looking clean,” Guzior says.
4. Go artificial
Fake grass is the quickest way to a mower-free life. And there’s no shame in cheating—artificial turf has come a long way in recent years, looking and feeling like the real thing.
“An artificial lawn can be just as beautiful as a naturally growing lawn,” Guzior says.
Picture it: uninterrupted green—and no watering required! (A huge plus if you’re living in a drought-prone landscape.)
5. Create space for living
Not all yard space needs to be dedicated to gardens and grass. Think about how you’d like to live outdoors: Are you a party host? Do you dream of reading books in a hammock? Would you like to put in a pool at some point? Design with that in mind.
“Create an outdoor living space, rather than settling on a lawn,” Sexton says.
Just keep your plans simple, if maintenance is a concern.
“Multiple levels and water features can become obstacles when mowing, weeding, or updating the design in the future,” Sexton advises.
6. Water less, mulch more
Here's an easy fix if you're tired of yard work: Water less. Yes, literally. Just water less.
"Overwatering is easy to do, and it brings pests, rot, and overgrowth," says Cassy Aoyagi, the president of FormLA Landscaping in Los Angeles.
Instead of watering frequently, Aoyagi recommends mulching more—and leaving grass clippings on the lawn—to retain moisture and simplify your Saturday routine.
7. Rock out
You know what doesn’t need watering? Rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Instead of grass, use decorative pebbles, and instead of rose bushes, try boulders.
“Rocks are durable and long-lasting,” Guzior says. “You won’t have to worry about them wearing out during harsh weather conditions, and they will never attract pests.”
They’re also ideal landscaping elements for less than savvy designers. Making rocks look bad is a challenge indeed—just place them wherever you think they look good, and you’ll have a nice year-round view.