While there are people who like to toil in their gardens for hours at a time, drinking in the smells and textures of a garden, you don’t have to spend hours each week to tend to your landscaping if you don’t want to. It takes some planning to create something special that is low maintenance, but it is completely doable for anyone willing to do a bit of research.

If you set it up right, you can leave to go on vacation for a month and never worry about hiring someone to water your garden or cut your grass. There are plenty of materials you can work with that don’t require much time or water. Going green has never been so easy or economical.

1. Hardscaping

Landscaping can be as creative as you are and doesn’t need to be limited to plants and grass. Use rocks, pavers, brick and gravel to spice up any yard or garden. Pavers are perfect for creating walkways around the garden. Identifying paver colors that are high-contrast that can be mixed and matched for interesting geometric patterns are sure to add some pizzazz to your landscaping efforts.

Retaining walls, fireplaces and patios are also a nice way to work hardscaping into the plan. Entertainment areas are especially unique and magical expressions of hospitality as you sip a glass of wine with your friends. Placing some plants around in strategic spots will break up the hard surfaces and add some texture and life to what can become cold if not done properly.

2. Plant hearty, evergreen shrubs and plants that are water and weather tolerant.

While some plants require constant care and attention, there are alternatives that can be planted once, rarely needing much from you after the initial planting. Evergreen shrubs are a particularly interesting choice. Drought-resistant shrubs and plants are the perfect addition to any low-maintenance garden area.

Check out bottlebrush buckeye, Texas rancher, hosta, forsythia, yew and black-eyed susans to find what will work best for the area you are in. Yew is a particular favorite because it is drought resistant and acclimates to almost any type of soil well. The purple Texas ranger is another favorite, flowering with purple blooms as a hearty and drought resistant choice. It does require full sun though.

3. Add a deck or living space outdoors.

Decks and other seating areas incorporate some wood and comfort into outside decor as a nice complement to living things. Teak wood is a favorite deck material that is long-lasting and gorgeous when stained with the right color. Fluffy outdoor pillows add to the comfort and aesthetic appeal of an outdoors space. Awnings and umbrellas are also nice touches in warmer regions where shade is necessary.

Interesting planters, bird baths and decorative water cans add a lot of personality to your garden. Chimes are another item that some people love with a variety of shapes and sounds available.

4. Use low-maintenance water features to increase the wow factor.

Water features can cause many unwanted problems if you aren’t careful about what you select. Who can resist the soothing sound of water gurgling in the yard? Fountains are recommended over ponds since they are easier to clean. If the water flows briskly, then it will prevent an algae problem. Fountains also attract birds, if you enjoy having these colorful creatures around singing to anyone within listening range.

5. Plant hearty, decorative grasses that do not need much water.

The grass typically planted in yards is high-maintenance and requires cutting. Unless you want to pay a yard service or be in your yard weekly working on your lawn, you don’t want to plant this type of grass. The good news is that there are many varieties of tall grasses that rarely need any attention once it is planted.

Check out switchgrass, muhly, bluestem and fountain grass as tall grasses that provide ground cover and some aesthetic appeal. These grasses can be used to provide privacy screens from nosy neighbors and are also good for soaking up water in the yard after heavy rains. There is no mowing requirement, but you may have to trim them back occasionally.


Some of the prettiest landscapes you will ever see practically care for themselves. While there are many designers who will be happy to design a low-maintenance garden for you for a fee, there are plenty of books and online sources that can provide the information you need to design the garden and yard of your needs. Above are some tips to get you started.

One of the reasons landscaping is more challenging than interior design is because plants are living, breathing entities that expand in size. Where many people go wrong is they don’t account for the size the plants or bushes will become as they grow. Variables like the amount of sun or shade needed, water requirements and how well they complement the other landscaping elements in the immediate vicinity all come together to either create a paradise or a greedy, high maintenance project that is ongoing.

K&D Landscaping, Inc. – Your commercial and residential landscape design, installation and maintenance company serving Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley & Watsonville, CA.