If you're new to landscaping or always on-the-go, you can still have a great-looking yard by using the ten easy-to-grow plants for outdoors covered below. I composed my list with an eye to providing you with a variety of choices. Thus you'll find examples from plant classes ranging from a tiny ground cover to a medium-sized tree. Likewise, some of my selections are sun-loving plants, while others are suitable for shady spots. And both flowering standouts and foliage plants are represented. Does the description and picture of a particular low-care plant below strike your fancy? You can research it further simply by clicking its picture, which will take you to more detailed information.
01 of 10
One of the biggest challenges in growing spring bulb plants is keeping pests away from them. Those underground bulbs are rich in nutrients, and pests such as squirrels may dig them up and eat them. Crocus and tulip are two spring bulbs difficult for me to grow, thanks to the multitude of gray squirrels in my area. Deer are another pest that plague these beauties of spring.
02 of 10
One thing I like about Lenten rose is the fact that its "bloom" lasts so long -- without any help from you. I place that term in quotation marks because it's not the true flowers that beginners are referencing when they marvel at this plant's color display, but rather what are known as "sepals."
03 of 10
You won't hear the gardening elite talk much about annuals such as impatiens, because they're dirt common (and therefore fail to fascinate). But there are good reasons why these plants are so commonly grown. One reason is that they're handy for injecting color into spots where your perennials have come up short. Another is that they're such easy-to-grow plants for outdoors.
Impatiens are known as shade plants but will also tolerate some sun in the North if supplied with sufficient water. Just remember to wait till after danger of frost has passed before planting them. Growing impatiens and other annuals is a great way for beginners to get their feet wet in gardening, because, being relatively inexpensive, you can feel free to experiment with them and learn what not to do (for future reference).
04 of 10
When we speak of "ground covers," we're talking not about a botanical classification, but rather about how a plant is used. The term is subjective (since any plant will cover some portion of the ground) but is generally applied to plants that trail along the surface.
In some cases, their stems will put down new roots where they come into contact with the soil, allowing them to spread readily. Such spreaders are easy-to-grow plants in one sense, but if they're too rambunctious they can be invasive plants, causing you extra work (to contain them). Like Goldilocks, what we really want in a ground cover is something in that sweet spot in the middle -- not too timid to spread its wings a bit, but not so voracious that it takes over everything.
For me, Angelina sedum (picture) is in that sweet spot. I value it as a foliage plant (it sports a chartreuse color), although it does bear yellow flowers.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
So far, I've dealt with short plants, and, in the next entry, I'll present a tall one (a tree). The shrub class furnishes options for those size needs that fall in between the extremes.
I favor a shrub such as hydrangea here. Why? Well, like Lenten rose (see above), it's the long-lasting sepals that put on the real show, not the true flowers, which are more ephemeral. So I get a display that lasts throughout the summertime without having to worry about deadheading. Since these bushes bloom on new wood, pruning is also simplified: I hack mine down to the ground in late winter or early spring.
The sepals of Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea (image) are colorful when they first come out but later fade. Incrediball hydrangea offers bigger flower heads, and because they're white in color, the effect of the eventual fading is less jarring.
Another low-care shrub that you true flower lovers may prefer is the Candy Oh! rose, which is fuss-free and blooms prolifically.
06 of 10
Sunburst honeylocust is an easy-to-grow tree in the sense that it is tough (holds up to street pollution) and not as messy as many trees. The foliage is a pleasing yellow (photo) in spring and fall.
If you live where the weather is warmer, another choice would be crepe myrtle. It grows as a tree in the Southeast (U.S.), whereas in my yard here in New England, cold temperatures limit its growth (I treat it as more of a shrub or large perennial, consequently).
07 of 10
Like Angelina sedum (see above), yucca is a hardy succulent. There are a wide range of easy-to-grow plants in this subclass of perennials. Some, such as Autumn Joy sedum, produce attractive flowers. Others, such as hens and chicks, flower only periodically and are valued primarily for their leaves. For more examples, view my gallery of pictures of cacti and succulents.
08 of 10
Never underestimate the value of native choices when seeking low-care plants. Because they've adapted to the conditions in your neck of the woods over eons, wildflowers native to your region are quite capable of standing on their own two feet without much care from you. The wildflower pictured at left happens to be one native to my own region, New England (U.S.): columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Like some of the examples above (and the final entry, below), lamb's ear is regarded mainly as a foliage plant. Not only are its leaves a pretty, silvery color, but they are also pleasing to the touch (velvety soft). The low-care features of this perennial include the fact that it is a drought-tolerant plant.
10 of 10
Some of the ornamental grasses don't require much care at all, especially the ones that are well-behaved and deer-resistant, such as blue fescue (photo). Hakone grass is better in partially shaded conditions. Other plants are similar in appearance to ornamental grasses and so are sometimes treated the same, including:
- Black mondo grass
The examples of easy-to-grow plants for outdoors referenced above qualify for my list because they require relatively little care. For instance, they may exhibit tolerance toward drought and pests, be easy to prune, need no deadheading, etc. However, newbies should not assume that you can simply throw them into the ground and they will thrive.
In the case of most plants, some modicum of labor on your part will be required if they are to look good in your landscaping. You can access helpful information on choosing, planting and maintaining plants in How to Start a Garden From Scratch, which also provides tips on giving your plants the healthy soil they need to thrive. To read growing tips on any of the specific plants mentioned, just click its image.