This Tough-as-Nails Perennial Garden Plan Features Pretty, yet Easy-Care Plants

A fuss-free yard doesn't have to be boring. Keep the color coming all season long with this garden design.

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Tough-as-Nails Perennial Garden Plan
Photo: Ed Gohlich

With this garden plan, you can plant it and almost forget it! It relies on a selection of tough-as-nails perennials that will thrive in full sun, tolerate heat and humidity, and reliably come back each year. Even then, these plants need little more from you than the occasional tidying up. Silvery gray-green foliage is a common thread tying together drought-tolerant perennials such as santolina, lavender, yarrow, and Russian sage. They coordinate well with a centerpiece blue birdbath, which also helps draw in feathered visitors. Plus, as this mix of perennials blooms, it'll produce beautiful bursts of pink, yellow, and purple all summer long.

Plants for Creating the Tough-as-Nails Garden Plan

  • 4 Lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus): Zones 5-10
  • 4 English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Sentivia Blue'): Zones 5-8
  • 1 Yarrow (Achillea 'Skysail Yellow'): Zones 3-9
  • 6 Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'Flame Pro Cerise'): Zones 4-8
  • 3 Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): Zones 5-9
  • 3 Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea 'Powwow Wild Berry'): Zones 3-9
  • 5 Penstemon (Penstemon barbatus 'Pristine Deep Rose'): Zones 4-10
  • 5 Pineleaf penstemon (Penstemon pinifolius): Zones 4-10
  • 5 Catmint (Nepeta × faassenii): Zones 3-8

If you aren't able to find the exact plant varieties listed above, substitute with others that have similar colors, shapes, and sizes. And because some plants can become overly aggressive and spread out of control in certain climates, always check which species are considered invasive or weedy in your area before planting.

Get the Free Tough-as-Nails Garden Plan

Tough-as-Nails Perennial Garden Plan Illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

This free garden plan is available as a printable PDF that includes an illustrated version of the planted garden, a layout diagram, a list of plants for the garden as shown, and complete instructions for installing the garden.

Tips for Planting Your New Garden

Preparation is the key to creating a garden that will offer a lifetime of pleasure. Before you start plant shopping, review all garden plan materials. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I have a suitable spot for this plan?

The layout diagram shows the rough dimensions for the plan. In general, you can enlarge or reduce the size of the garden by adding or eliminating plants, although the character of the garden may change if you alter the size dramatically.

Do I have the right growing conditions?

Check the plant list to see if the plan will do best in sun, part shade, or full shade. Be sure that the plants are suited to your USDA Hardiness Zone.

Do I need to amend my soil?

Most plants thrive in moist, but well-drained soil. If you have soil with lots of sand or clay, amend it liberally with lots of organic matter, such as compost. You may also want to do a soil test to see if you need to adjust the soil pH or add fertilizer before planting.

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