10 Tips for Creating Easy to Maintain Landscaping

Reduce yard maintenance with these essential tips.

Photo: Bob Stefko

When you focus on creating an easy-care landscape, you'll have more time for relaxing outdoors and less yard work to do. These simple garden design tips will help you keep maintenance to a minimum, while creating a beautiful landscape you'll enjoy throughout the seasons.

01 of 10

Know Your Site

shade garden with containers of dwarf greenstripe bamboo
Andrew Drake

Take the time to really get to know the weather, light, and soil conditions of your site. When plants are paired with their desired growing conditions, they'll thrive with a lot less help from you. So for example, if you have quick-draining sandy soil that bakes in full sun, plant drought- and heat-tolerant varieties. Damp shaded spaces will require a different palette of plants.

02 of 10

Make a Master Plan

garden plan sketch woman drawing
Kritsada Panichgul

Successful landscapes start with a well thought-out plan. Even a simple sketch of your property will do the trick. Include any structures, existing trees and shrubs, and garden elements. Add outdoor living areas, pathways to access those areas, and other elements, such as a swing set or vegetable garden. Don't hesitate to include areas that you're not yet ready to install, but plan to create in the future. The master plan will be essential for illustrating how your landscape will come together in time.

03 of 10

Choose Trees and Shrubs

backyard nook created by trees and shrubs
Bob Stefko

Sometimes called the "bones" of a landscape, trees and shrubs have a big presence that increases over time. These long-lasting woody plants can provide decades of flowers, fragrance, and colorful foliage with minimal annual maintenance. When making your choices, look for varieties with features that will provide year-round interest, such as spring flowers, summer fruit, colorful fall foliage, and interesting bark that will brighten winter.

04 of 10

Rely on Native Plants

Bob Stefko

The beauty of landscaping with native plants is that these varieties are most likely accustomed to the weather and soil conditions in your area. Be sure to site the plants in their preferred sun exposure, and you're well on your way to a trouble-free garden that thrives year after year. Also, these plants are the best for supporting pollinators and other beneficial wildlife.

05 of 10

Focus Your Efforts

porch steps succulents potted plants grasses gravel
Elevate gold-tinged plants like ornamental grasses or cordylines so they can shimmer in the sunlight. Holly Lepere

Focus on creating one or two key garden areas that offer impact, rather than placing multiple beds and borders in all corners of your property. A perennial and shrub border along your front walkway, or near the front door, is always a good choice. The area immediately surrounding your porch, deck, or patio is also a great spot for landscaping.

06 of 10

Group Similar Plants Together

succulents in concrete containers
Edward Gohlich

Cluster plants with similar needs together. Grouping containers simplifies watering, and it allows pots to shade one another, which reduces the need for watering. Planting in groups of odd numbers and repeating those plants throughout your beds is most pleasing to the eye.

07 of 10

Install a Border

add edging and surround with dirt
Brie Passano

Delineate shrubs, perennial beds, vegetable patches, and other garden spaces with a border. This might be as simple as a spaded edge that separates the lawn from your planting beds, or you might use metal edging, stone, or brick to create a lasting border. A defined bed edge plays two important roles in the landscape: It provides a clean finish for your garden areas and it prevents grass and other weeds from creeping in.

08 of 10

Blanket the Soil

Red creeping thyme
Peter Krumhardt

Bare soil is an invitation for weeds to move in. A lush groundcover, such as easy-to-grow creeping thyme or low-growing sedum, adds color and texture below perennials and shrubs, while helping to prevent weeds from germinating. A two- to three-inch layer of shredded wood mulch, cocoa hulls, or pine straw also helps reduce weed growth.

09 of 10

Plan to Prune

person pruning branch with sheers
Kritsada Panichgul

If you trim your plants back at least once a year, you'll save yourself a bigger hassle down the road, when an overgrown shrub or vine can demand drastic action. Some plants require more pruning than others, so factor this into your selections. The best time to prune flowering trees and shrubs is just after they bloom. Prune shade trees and evergreens in mid to late spring.

10 of 10

Add Plenty of Compost

person holding shovel with compost outdoors
Marty Baldwin

Rich in nutrients that plants need to thrive, compost is an essential addition to almost any garden. It keeps plants healthy, and healthy plants are easier to care for. Search for quality compost through your local municipality or garden center, or you could start your own compost bin.

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