Low Maintenance Landscape Ideas For Busy Gardeners With Limited Time -

Low Maintenance Landscape Ideas For Busy Gardeners With Limited Time


This article will highlight some low maintenance landscape ideas that we have found to work really well over the years.

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If you're like most of our clients, you like beautiful gardens but don't necessarily have the time to take care of them and maintain them properly. Even if you like gardening, life sometimes gets in the way.

We know the feeling.  We are busy people too.  That's why, when we come across something that makes our life easier and makes landscaping tasks take less time, we notice.  This is especially true when you're professionally trained, as Art is.  He knows how to get the most of our his day gardening.

These low maintenance ideas can really help you keep your landscape looking great and save you time in the process.

Our Top 7 Low Maintenance Landscape Ideas To Save You Time

Idea #1 Use Slow Growing Shrubs

If you don't want to be out in your garden every weekend, the first thing you'll want to do is incorporate slow growing shrubs within your landscaped areas.

There are many shrubs that can fit the bill, many of which won't need trimming every year. Some could go for years once they are established without any care at all. Here are a few:


image of low maintenance boxwood

Planting Zones: 5-9
You'll see boxwoods often used as hedges in formal gardens. You'll also see them in various gardens as rounded balls of green.

Boxwoods grow very slowly. They could reach a heght of 10-15 feet, but you'll rarelly see them this tall and if you do, it'll probably take 10 years for them to grow to this height. They usually have a rounded appearance unless sheered into a square shape, which some people do.

One thing is for certain about boxwoods. They need pruning very infrequently. You can sometimes let them go for 2-3 years before they need a trim. If you've purchased them as small plants, you may not need to prune them for 5+ years! This of course depends on the eventual size you want them.

In addition, once they need trimming, you can use hedge trimmers and sheer them relatively quickly. No need to hand prune. This will save you time for sure.

Japanese Holly:


Planting Zones 5-8
Japanese holly are often mistaken for boxwood. They look very similar in leaf color and growing habits. However, if you look close at a stem of both, you'll see the different growing pattern of leaves. From a distance though, you may find it hard to tell the two apart.

Japanese holly grow slightly smaller than boxwood but grow equally as slow.

Like boxwood, they lend themselves to sheering, instead of hand pruning, so when it comes time to give them a trim, it will take less time than other shrubs.



Planting Zones: 6-9
Most azaleas won't do well in colder weather, so planting past zone 6 might be tricky.

Azalea is another slow growing shrub, but with a bonus. It flowers in the spring.

The flowers are absolutely magnificent. They come in red, pink lavender, purple, white and other similar shades and form a full carpet of color within the plant.

Although known to be a shade plant, it can tolerate partial sun too. We've even seen some azaleas growing in client's yards in full sun. However, filtered light for part of the day and full sun for the other half would be ideal.

You will rarely need to trim azaleas because of their slow growth. Although the flowers will turn brown and die after a few weeks, when they fall to the garden they will disappear within the mulch after a few weeks, making this shrub a true no maintenance shrub.

Other shrubs:

It would be impossible to cover all the low maintenance shrubs here. However, some other shrubs you could consider would be " Mountain Laurel" "Gold Thread Cypress" "Acuba" "Dwarf Hinoki Cypress" "Rhodadendron."

On the other hand, it would be a mistake if we didn't let you know of some shrubs to not  include in a low maintenance garden because of their fast growth.  These include "forsythia," "knock out roses (becuase of their thorns)," "rose of sharon" and "wing burning bush," to name four common examples.  All of these are beautiful plants no doubt, but to keep them in check, they will need to be pruned multiple times per year.




Knock Out Roses


Rose Of Sharon Flower

Idea #2: Use Mondo Grass Instead Of Regular Grass

mondo grass thumb

Many people have not heard of this very pretty perennial. While it's not grass, it looks like it, although the blades are deeper green and usually thicker than grass blades.

One of the most underated low maintenance landscape plants, the idea is to use it in one of 2 spots. It's mostly used in landscaped gardens as ground cover and indeed, can look great for that purpose. Weeds usually won't penetrate it's thick blanket and it's hardy enough to grow almost everywhere.

However, one use that isn't done much is to use it in place of grass. Since it only grows 4-6 inches tall and looks similar to grass, it can take it's place. However, we would not use it as a grass replacement in large or massive yards. If you have a small space that you don't want grass and don't want to mow, consider mondo grass.

It will need trimming very infrequently but when it does, just mow over it as you would regular grass. which will save you time.

Idea #3: Use Low Maintenance Perennials That Last Throughout The Season

Most gardens would be well suited for perennials that come back every year and fill the garden with foliage of various colors and some colorful flowers as well. You can have both and do very little in the way of maintenance.

Hosta - The One Low Maintanence Never Fail Perennial:


One of the best and most popular perennails that does well in almost any garden except those in hot, dry conditions is the hosta plant. It comes in so many varieties of leaves and colors, you can fill an entire garden with its many varieties and still have lots of interest.

Hostas emerge from the ground in early spring and continue to thrive until the end of the growing season with absolutey no maintenance at all.

Coral Bells - The Versitile Plant With Multi Colored Leaves:

 coral bells thumb

Another excellent choice for filler plants are coral bells. Their bright green, burnt orange and redish leaves add even more interest.

Coral Bells do well in shady and partial sun locations and like hostas, emerge in the spring and need no care at all.

They do produce long stems of small flowers in late summer.  However, these flowers are really an afterthough to the beautiful leaves.

Loriape - The Quintessential Border Plant:


Loriape is an excellent perennial plant that is like the others - coming up in the spring and lasting until fall and needing zero care. It's grassy look comes in solid green or a varigated green and white or green and yellow.

Loriape is often used as a garden border, or within the garden as a mass planting used as ground cover.

Using a combination of these perennials with various foliage colors and textures, plus the shrubs mentioned above is a great low mainenance landscape idea you can use to make your gardens hands off. There's one thing missing though, and that is flowers. Fear not. Color can be yours as well.

Flowering Perennials That Need No Care:

Flowering perennials are also an option, especially the varieties that bloom all season. However to get optimal flowers, they will usually need to be deadheaded - removing the dead flowers so more will be produced. Although deadheading is not absolutely necessary, you will see more flowers that bloom more frequently if you deadhead.

This deadheading is easy and usually requires only a few minutes, so it may be worth the effort for you.

Plants such as cone flowers, hellabore, coriapsus and more are all great perennials that need little care except deadheading.


Cone Flowers

hellebore thumb

Hellebore (Lenten Rose)

 coreopsis thumb

Coreopsis Thumb

Idea #4 - Easy Weed Control That Takes Very Little Time:

If you want to spend very little time weeding your gardens, you must implement a plan that will make it difficult for weeds to grow.

We have such a plan that works well for us, and has been working for years. If you follow it, you will find that you'll be spending very little time weeding your gardens. Read about our weed control method here.

In brief though, establishing a garden that makes it hard for weeds to grow in the first place is the goal - and there are ways to do it.

Now, you may be thinking that weed control fabric is an option. Indeed many people use it. You see it for sale in your local garden centers too. Wouldn't it be wise to use it?

In our opinion, using this material is not the beset option. Wanna know why we feel this way? Read our article about weed control fabric here.

Idea #5 - Use Mulch On Your Gardens:

One of the ways to control weeds is to spread enough mulch on your gardens - at least 2-3 inches.

Weeds need the same thing to grow as other plants, and that is sunlight. Therefore, by covering the garden with mulch, you are blocking the sunlight from getting to the weeds, thus keeping them from growing.

At times though, you might find a unwanted weeds sprouting up within the mulch. Ah, the joys of gardening and dealing with weeds. Logically this shouldn't happen but sometimes it does.  Tough little suckers they are.

Idea #6 Plant Summer Annuals That Need No Care:

Although planting summer annuals will require a little time and work initially, once it's done, you can let them do their thing.

Many summer annuals won't need anything done to them at all during the growing season. Some though, might require pinching off dead flowers if you want a massive amount of blooms. Either way, very little time will be neaded to maintain them once they have been planted.

There are so many annuals to choose from, it would be impossible to do it justice here.  Use our search feature to search for summer annuals for more information.

Idea #7 - Set Up A Watering (Irrigation) Timer:

When we say you can have gardens with very little maintenance, we mean it when it comes to everything. Everything except watering, that is. There's no way to get around watering, especially in today's unpredictable climate. Watering could take you a lot of time, so what's a person to do? Set up an irrigation timer, of course!

An irrigation timer is an essential low maintenance landscape idea that, if you do nothing else, do this. Without a timer that handles this task for you, you'll never be truly low maintenance.

When we mention to our clients of setting up a irrigation timer for them, we might as well be from mars! They've never heard of such a thing.

Of course, most people are aware that professional landscapers use complicated irrigation systems to water the grass and gardens, but did you know you can purchase an irrigation timer made for home owners? Yes, you can and yes, you should.

These timers attach to your hose spigot with ease. You can purchase timers that have only one zone but we've also seen them with more - up to 5 zones. No more time spent watering your gardens, which could literally save you hours per week.

These timers are extremely easy to set up so there's no reason NOT to use them.

The big benefit - you don't have to think about watering, nor spend time actually doing it.

Watering timers are widely available at any garden center in almost any store so by all means, use one.

Recap Of Time Saving, Low Maintenance Ideas

To recap, our low maintenance landscape ideas consist of the following:

  1. Use low maintenance shrubs
  2. Use mondo grass as ground cover or in place of regular grass
  3. Use low maintenance perennials
  4. Employ proper weed control methods from the beginning, before they take hold
  5. Use mulch on your gardens
  6. Plant summer annuals that require no maintenance
  7. Use an irrigation timer

Combining more than one of these ideas will help you save time because the more you incorporate into your gardens, the more low maintenance you're entire landscape will become. You'll be able to sit back and enjoy it without much fuss.

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