Top Tips for Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Less Work, More Play in Your Yard

Closeup of moss plants with dew on them.
Moss can be a low-maintenance substitute for grass. Copyright by Siripong Kaewla-iad/Moment/Getty Images

Take these 10 tips to heart if you're serious about low-maintenance landscaping. Since watering and mowing the lawn consume a large chunk of yard care time, the biggest step you can take towards minimizing your workload is reducing your watering needs and cutting back on the amount of grass you must mow. So several of the articles show you how to become "water-wise" or introduce plants that serve as alternatives to grass. You will also find labor-saving solutions for weeds, pests, pesky pets and snow removal.

  • 01 of 09

    Xeriscaping Can Save Water, Effort, Money

    Autumn Joy sedum plant in bloom.
    Autumn Joy sedum is a joy to behold with its pinkish-orange blossoms. David Beaulieu

    Those who have had to mow lawns all their lives are acutely aware of just how much work lawns are. But lawns can also be costly, as when you have to replace one that has succumbed to drought. Don't wait for drought to strike to reconsider the wisdom of having extensive, labor-intensive, thirsty lawns. Instead, take preemptive action by changing your landscape design. This article explains one water-wise alternative to lawns: xeriscaping, using plants such as 'Autumn Joy' sedum.

  • 02 of 09

    Automatic Irrigation Systems

    Sprinkler discharging water across a lawn.
    Automatic irrigation is an option to consider if you have a large lawn. David Beaulieu

    You've thought about having the convenience of an automatic irrigation system in your front yard, haven't you? Perhaps you've been torn between doing it yourself or having a professional installation. My tutorial could help you make up your mind and begin enjoying this handy aid to low-maintenance landscaping.

  • 03 of 09

    Clover as an Alternative to Grass

    Red clover plant in bloom.
    Red clover has a pink flower, in spite of its name. David Beaulieu

    Clover seed used to be included in the typical lawn seed mix, being appreciated as a ground cover with numerous attractive qualities. What do clover lawns have over grass lawns? How about drought-tolerance, cost-savings, and less impact on the environment? Interested? Clovers are insect-resistant, compete well with weeds, and don't have to be mowed often, making these low-maintenance plants a superb substitute for grass.

  • 04 of 09

    Moss as an Alternative to Grass

    Patch of sphagnum moss growing in the wild.
    Sphagnum moss is an excellent choice for wet, shady areas. David Beaulieu

    Mosses are fuss-free plants that can be used as alternatives to lawn grass in shady spots, where grass refuses to grow. Considering how often moss grows in lawn areas problematic for grass, it readily suggests itself as just such an alternative. Don't laugh off planting moss as a crank idea: Paul James, no less, of HGTV fame, is a proponent of the idea.

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  • 05 of 09

    Drought-Tolerant Perennials

    Culvers root plants in bloom, displaying clusters of flower spikes.
    Culver's root is a North American native plant with clusters of spiky flowers. David Beaulieu

    The perceptive will detect a subplot in this listing of low-maintenance approaches: water conservation. Plants that require a lot of water will be one of your biggest challenges if you are trying to reduce the amount of care your landscaping needs. The solution? Do not try to grow water-guzzlers in areas of the yard blasted by the sun all day long. Instead, opt for drought-tolerant perennials.

  • 06 of 09

    Deer-Resistant Ground Covers

    Sweet woodruff growing well under a Kwanzan cherry tree.
    Sweet woodruff performs well under trees. David Beaulieu

    Using ground covers is a smart landscape solution that can reduce watering needs and mowing time. But when deer pests come to snack on ground cover plants, you need to refine your landscape solution strategy. This article tells you which ground covers are effective in deer control -- plants that deer will not eat as readily as they eat the preferred plants on their menu -- saving you the time, energy and money required to replace eaten plants. And these deer-resistant ground covers have many other fine qualities that will give you plenty of reason to grow them.

  • 07 of 09

    Rock Gardens for Low-Maintenance Landscaping

    Rock garden scene with rocks and plants.
    If you have large rocks on your landscape, take advantage and start a rock garden. Don Johnston/Getty Images

    Rock gardens typically contain drought-tolerant plants that don't need much care. Moreover, the rocks, themselves offer a decor that never needs to be watered or tended to in any way whatsoever. This Q & A piece discusses how to build rock gardens. Learn about plant selections for building rock gardens, with the aid of a database.

  • 08 of 09

    Mulch: Unsung Hero

    Image of mulch and shrubs along a house foundation.
    Done right, a strip of mulch can provide a nice, clean look in front of your home. David Beaulieu

    Assuming you're not some kind of workaholic, sooner or later you'll come to recognize mulch as one of the unsung heroes of landscaping. It's highly portable, malleable and, for certain types of mulch, you can even make your own. If you have a problem area for which there seems to be no other solution, mulch is probably your answer -- especially if you need a quick and easy solution. An application of mulch can reduce your watering needs significantly. Mulch also suppresses weeds, making yard care much easier.

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  • 09 of 09

    Landscaping and Dogs: Not Exactly a Match Made in Heaven

    Man seated on lawn with dogs.
    Dogs can do a lot of damage in the yard. Are you ready for them?. Hero Images/Getty Images

    Dogs can run your yard ragged. If your dogs are to be allowed to run about outside, you will probably have to make adjustments to your landscaping. But the smartest adjustments you will make are the ones that don't cause you too much extra labor. Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Less Work in Your Yard Means More Time for Enjoying It

You lead a full, busy life. Your yard should be a sanctuary where you recharge your batteries after a hard day at the office -- not a timesink. But to achieve that goal, you have to make smart choices. This article has shown you how you can reduce your landscape-maintenance responsibilities. With the resulting time savings, more time will be left over for using your yard as it is intended to be used: for your enjoyment.