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Matthew Silkwood
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May 28, 2024

10 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Any Budget

Save time and money on landscaping! These 10 low maintenance landscaping ideas help you get a beautiful yard, do less yard work and spend less on lawn care.

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Matthew Silkwood
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low maintenance landscaping ideas for residential backyards and front yards

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Smart Low Maintenance Landscape Design Guide

We all want the most beautiful yard in the neighborhood — but who has time? Between work, kids and chores, a gorgeous landscape design seems out of reach. Luckily, these low maintenance landscaping ideas are easy to install, even easier to maintain — and fit within your budget!

From native plants and xeriscaping to smart lawn irrigation and artificial turf, these 10 simple landscaping ideas will make you the envy of your neighbors with minimal maintenance. 

Here's what we'll cover in our updated guide to low maintenance landscape design:

  • Choose low maintenance plants for easy landscaping success. Use native plants that grow in your area as perennials and shrubs. Drought tolerant plants make watering your flower bed a breeze.
  • On a tight budget? Organic mulch is your new best friend. They naturally suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. And more mulch equals less lawn mowing — who doesn't love having less yard work?
  • Got a little money to spend? Use large native plants as feature landscape design elements — native trees require minimal upkeep. We also love hardscaping elements like concrete pavers and stone walkways.
  • Going all out to reduce future lawn care costs? Create an outdoor living space complete with deck, landscape lighting and outdoor kitchen. You'll add 38-50% to your property value and cut down on lawn mowing costs.
  • Convert to a smart sprinkler system. It costs $500-$700 per irrigation zone to install a smart irrigation system. You'll save 30% on annual outdoor water bills and over 7,500 gallons of water per year.

Smart homeowners start with a free landscape design quote from HOMR — message us 24/7!

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Low Maintenance Landscaping Tips That Save Time and Money

Last year, HOMR published a popular guide to low maintenance landscaping in Texas. We received incredible feedback from homeowners across America asking for broader home landscaping advice that simplifies lawn maintenance and saves money.

Our research team cultivated this list to ensure you can utilize these ideas for low maintenance landscaping wherever you live. However, there are 5 specifics to keep in mind before we dive in:

  • Native plants  are ones that grow naturally in your region. Some native plants have larger regional success — for example, purple coneflower grows well from the Great Lakes through Kentucky and down to Texas.
  • Xeriscaping is a landscaping process that reduces the need for watering by installing drought tolerant plants, rock garden areas and soil without grass. While you can practice xeriscaping anywhere, it performs best in dry, hot climates like Arizona, southern California and south Texas.
  • Smart sprinkler controllers are the best way for most homeowners to save money long-term on watering their lawns and gardens. Find a smart controller that's EPA WaterSense certified and you might qualify for a tax incentive or rebate.
  • Artificial turf is an excellent option for homeowners who love golf, have pets, or just hate mowing the lawn. But bear in mind, the real grass underneath your turf will die off once it's installed. — so be sure you want it!
  • Deck materials perform differently in different regions. Pressure treated pine decking does great in drier regions, but you'll need to seal it to endure rainy months in Seattle or New England, or the tough winters in Chicago and the Great Lakes region.
Pick the best deck material for your location and climate! Use our easy-to-read guide to great (and lousy) deck materials to find your perfect match.

Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive into our top 10 low maintenance landscaping ideas for homeowners.

Low Maintenance Landscaping for Small Budgets (>$999)

These 4 low maintenance landscape ideas were designed for homeowners looking to spend under $1,000 on their project.

Choose native plants that grow naturally in your yard.

Sustainable easy landscaping starts with native plants. These low maintenance landscaping plants grow naturally where you live. They're used to the soil, climate and weather patterns of your region — that means less watering, less fertilizing, and less overall flower bed maintenance.

Native plants are naturally resistant to local pests and diseases. No harmful chemicals and pest control products in your plant bed equals less time and money spent. Flowers that are native to your region also tend to attract pollinators.

Choose native perennials as the foundation of your gardens and flower beds. These plants will bloom every year and with proper maintenance — you won't waste time and money buying new flowers every year. Biennials are preferable to annuals, they live two years before dying.

HOMR offers free consultations with local native plant experts — message us!

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What native plants and flowers grow where you live?

Here are native plants we love in every region of the continental United States:

Northeast US:

Columbine flowers are a partial shade perennial native plant

Columbine (aquilegia) is a perennial that grows best in partial shade but can survive full sun with proper watering. They produce multi-colored blooms every year that range from red to purple to yellow. Columbines are self-seeding, easy to grow, and tolerate winter temperatures below -25°F when rooted.

Pink flowers on peony shrub, low maintenance northeast native plant

Peony (paeonia) are extremely hardy perennials that survive winter temperatures of -40°F. They love full sun and usually produce gorgeous pink and white flowers every spring. Plant peonies next to azaleas and poppies — they make great neighbors and help each other produce ideal blooms.

Southeast US:

Purple coneflower is great for midwest native planting, especially in Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Purple coneflower (echinacea purpurea) is a popular flower across much of the midwest and southeastern US — it performs brilliantly in Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas. Their bright lavender blooms last for up to 2 months and require little watering. This perennial grows up to 4 feet in height.

Black-eyed Susan is one of America's most versatile native plants for flower beds and gardens.

Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia hirta) is an ideal choice if you love pollinators buzzing around your flower bed. Their blooms last most of the summer, and last 2-5 years before the plant dies. An added bonus for pet owners: black-eyed Susan flowers are non-toxic to dogs!

Midwest US:

prairie aster purple flower blooms, midwest US native perennial plant

Prairie aster (aster tanacetifolius) is a late-blooming plant that features beautiful lilac blooms with bright yellow centers. They're sold as both young plants and seed packets, so prairie asters are a great option for gardeners who like to start from scratch. These perennials do well in prairie and woodland areas.

Bright orange flowers on butterfly weed native plant, low maintenance midwest landscaping

Butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) is a variety of milkweed that produces clusters of fantastic bright flowers. It establishes well with plenty of seed pods, and comes back for many years with minimal care and maintenance. They attract butterflies, and are rabbit and deer-resistant.

Southern US:

Red yucca is a perennial native plant to Texas, Arizona and southern states.

Red yucca (hesperaloe parviflora) is a small evergreen that produces bursts of red flowers in spring. It's incredibly drought tolerant and thrives throughout the southern US into Mexico. Red yucca attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and can survive a freezing event down to -20°F.

Texas sage with purple flowers, perennial native evergreen shrub for southern US

Texas sage (leucophyllum frutescens) is a tough evergreen shrub that’s native to Texas and grows exceptionally well in the dry, arid American south. This dense sage shrub is a fantastic habitat for birds, and attracts butterflies and other pollinators. 

Western US:

Blanket flower with red and yellow blooms in low maintenance garden, western United States

Blanket flower (gaillardia) is another short-lived western native perennial that loves full sun climates. They're highly deer and rabbit-resistant and produce broad red flowers with yellow tips that resemble daisies. This drought tolerant plant requires little maintenance or watering.

Blue flax flowering native plant in western United States, easy gardening flower to care for

Blue flax (linum lewisii) is a perennial that's native to the western United States. They live under 10 years, but produce beautiful pale blue flowers throughout their lifespan. Blue flax is easy to maintain and grows well, even in poor soil. Plant blue flax if you want to attract pollinators and bees.

Use xeriscaping — drought tolerant plants save on water bills.

Purple catmint flowering plants, drought tolerant plant for xeriscape gardening
Catmint is a low maintenance, drought tolerant flowering plant that's great for xeriscape gardening.

Xeriscape gardening is a type of landscape design that focuses on reduction (or elimination) of watering and maintenance. If you live in dry, arid climates, xeriscape design helps keep your plants alive longer without much care.

Here are 5 drought tolerant plants for xeriscape gardening that are incredibly hardy and beautiful:

  • Purple coneflower
  • Yarrow
  • Salvia
  • Lavender
  • Catmint

Want a pro xeriscape designer? Message us for a free recommendation!

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Invest in ground cover and other low-growing plants.

sweet alyssum white ground cover flowering plant
Sweet alyssum is a beautiful low maintenance ground cover plant.

Ground cover plants offer 5 key benefits to a low-cost, low-effort landscape strategy:

  1. Size. Ground cover spreads rapidly and covers a lot of landscaping area at a minimal cost.
  2. Attracts pollinators. Most native ground cover attracts bees and other pollinators.
  3. Wins in tough terrain. Plant ground cover on hillsides, in rocky or shallow soil.
  4. Mostly perennials. Your plants will come back for many years, saving time on planting and purchasing.
  5. Weed suppressors. Ground cover controls weeds and stops them from spreading through your yard.

Easy-to-find, inexpensive ground cover plants include coral bells, creeping thyme, pachysandra, and sweet alyssum

PRO TIP: Want a sweet smell to cover your lawn? Plant oregano — it provides excellent ground coverage.

Mulch your landscape design and save on water and weed killer.

A bag of mulch costs roughly $4 - $10, and a cubic yard costs $60 - $85. The more mulch you lay down around your trees, shrubs, and home's foundation, the less yard you have to mow!

Mulch also helps suppress weeds and aids moisture retention in your soil. Both these attributes help reduce your yard work.

Cedar mulch is an excellent choice if you want attractive landscaping that smells great. Expect to pay a few dollars more per cubic yard of cedar mulch, but it’s worth it for the beauty and fragrance. 

Want even more free home service tips? Message us 24/7 and talk to a human!

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Low Maintenance Landscaping for Medium Budgets ($1,000-$4,999)

Try these 4 easy landscaping ideas if your budget is between $1,000 and $5,000.

Define your sprinkler zones and install a smart irrigation controller.

Split your yard into distinct irrigation zones that deliver the proper amount of water to specific plants and trees. The number of irrigation zones you need depends on 3 factors:

  1. The size of your yard;
  2. The unique areas of your overall landscape design; and
  3. Your sprinkler system’s water pressure. 

Most yards require between 5 and 10 irrigation zones — use our helpful guide to determine how many zones you need. Then, save a bunch of time and money on future lawn care and upgrade your sprinkler system to a smart controller. 

Smart controllers don’t just save you time — they save you a lot of money. The average homeowner saves $435 per year on water bills after installing a smart sprinkler system. Expect a payback period of 16-20 months on your smart controller. After that, it’s pure savings.

Certain towns and counties offer incentives and rebates on smart controllers if they meet EPA WaterSense standards. Use this handy EPA Rebate Finder to see if you qualify!

Make sure your smart controller can service every area of your yard. If you aren’t sure how to calculate the number of irrigation zones you have, check out our helpful guide.

What is the best smart sprinkler controller?

Rachio 3 smart irrigation controller for lawn sprinkler systems
The Rachio 3 smart irrigation controller reduces water bills and contributes to low maintenance landscaping.

We think the Rachio 3 is the best smart irrigation controller for most homeowners.It has the most intuitive features of any current smart irrigation controller, yet it’s easy to install. The Rachio app is a breeze, even for new users.

Buy on Amazon:  8-Zone Rachio 3 ($159.00 at the time of writing)
Hunter Hydrawise X2 6-zone model for smart lawn irrigation
The contractor login feature on Hunter's HydraWise X2 smart irrigation controller simplifies lawn irrigation for homeowners.

New to smart lawn irrigation? Try the Hunter Hydrawise X2. It has a contractor log-in feature that lets your sprinkler company help set and manage your watering schedule. Plus, it’s about $100 cheaper than the Rachio 3.

Buy on Amazon: 6 Zone Hunter Hydrawise X2 ($98.20 at the time of writing)

Cut down on lawn mowing with hardscaping elements.

Weekly lawn mowing services cost an average of $60-90 for most American homeowners. Use hardscaping to cut your lot size by 25%, and you’ll save $360-$540 a year on lawn care services.

And that doesn’t count fertilizer, irrigation and weed management savings! It’s no wonder so many homeowners use hardscaping to simplify their landscape design.

Start with concrete pavers and stone walkways in your landscape design to create clean pathways for walking. Then, add 2-3 focal elements like retaining walls and landscape lighting.

A small fire pit with casual outdoor seating creates a lovely ambience without breaking the bank. We found this attractive 33”x32” rectangular wood-burning fire pit from Hamilton for under $300.

hamilton 33"x32" wood burning fire pit with outdoor seating
Buy from Amazon: Hamilton 33”x32” Rectangular Fire Pit ($299.42 at time of writing)

Got a larger budget for hardscaping? Check out our low-maintenance landscaping ideas for deck and patio spaces later in this article.

Text HOMR’s live reps and get hyperlocal recommendations for landscape design!

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Use large native trees in your front yard.

Looking for a low maintenance front yard landscaping hack? Large native trees are a wonderful way to reduce yard space — which in turn saves money on lawn care, mowing, fertilization and watering.

Native trees are easy to plant, adapt well to the soil and climate conditions in your front yard, and require far less upkeep to keep healthy than non-native trees. Choose the right tree for your front yard landscaping by pairing it with your hardiness zone.

Find the right native tree for your hardiness zone:

Use the official USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your zip code’s zone. Hardiness zones are determined by how cold an average winter gets in your area, and which plants can survive that temperature. 

Almost every location in the continental United States falls between zone 4 and zone 8.

Here are some great trees to plant for low maintenance front yard landscaping in each hardiness zone.

red maple tree zone 4 front yard landscaping

Zone 4: Red Maple — Buy from Home Depot, $72.98 at time of writing

The sturdy, reliable red maple is one of the most popular low maintenance trees in zone 4. It’s a fast growing tree that reaches up to 60 feet tall at maturity. Red maples are wonderful shade trees that pack a colorful punch, especially in autumn.

pink dogwood low maintenance tree for front yard landscape design

Zone 5: Dogwood — Buy from Home Depot, $72.98 at time of writing

Homeowners love the dogwood for its brilliant spring flowers and its red-purple leaves throughout the late summer and early autumn. Dogwoods prefer well-draining soil and a partial shade location. Mulch every year for best results. 

yellow magnolia tree flower low maintenance landscaping

Zone 6: Magnolia — Buy from Home Depot, $52.97 at time of writing

The versatile Magnolia grows well in full sun and part shade, and does well in most types of soil. The Magnolia Yellow Bird varietal produces soft yellow blooms in late spring and grows to 40 feet tall by 25 feet wide at maturity.

pecan tree shoot in easy front yard landscaping for zone 7

Zone 7: Pecan — Buy from Home Depot, $79.98 at time of writing

Zone 7 offers a wonderful mix of climate and soil conditions to plant trees in your yard. Why not plant a pecan tree or two, and harvest fresh pecans every September? Pecan trees are great pollinators that grow to 20-30 feet at mature height.

bright fuschia crape myrtle tree in bloom, low maintenance zone 8 landscaping

Zone 8: Crape Myrtle — Buy from Home Depot, $83.08 at time of writing

The crape myrtle is a drought tolerant tree that’s great for low maintenance front yard landscape design in zones 7 and 8. Plant it in full sun for best results, including stunning hot pink flowers for half the summer. Crape myrtles grow to 10 feet tall.

Make sure you hire the right company to maintain your new trees! Here are 10 great questions to ask during an initial tree service estimate.

Install artificial grass and save $189+ per month on lawn care.

The average homeowner spends $189 per month on lawn fertilization, water and general grass care. Install artificial turf on just 25% of your lawn, and you’ll save around $50/month.

TABLE: Initial Lawn Installation Cost, Artificial Grass vs. Natural Grass

Yard Size Artificial Turf Installation Cost Natural Grass Installation Cost
1000 sf $8,000-$12,000 $5,000-$6,000
1500 sf $12,000-$16,000 $7,500-$9,000
2000 sf $16,000-$20,000 $10,000-$12,000
2500 sf $20,000-$24,000 $12,500-$15,000

It costs roughly $3/sf more to install artificial turf instead of natural grass in your yard. So where’s the savings? Simple — synthetic grass doesn’t need to be watered, cut or fertilized. 

TABLE: Payback Period on Artificial Lawn Installation vs. Natural Grass

Yard Size Avg Installation Cost Difference,
Artificial vs Natural Grass
Lawn Care Savings
per Month
Artificial Grass
Payback Period
1000 sf $3,000 $189 16 months
1500 sf $3,600 $189 19 months
2000 sf $4,200 $189 22 months
2500 sf $4,800 $189 25 months

Magnolia Turf estimates the average homeowner spends $189/month on irrigation, fertilizer and lawn maintenance for natural grass. Once your artificial grass is installed, the payback period is surprisingly short.

Most homeowners experience a payback period of 16-20 months on their artificial turf lawn. After that, your lawn saves you money and valuable time — no more cutting or watering!

3 Types of Homeowners Who Love Artificial Grass

There are 3 specific types of homeowners who benefit greatly from artificial turf:

  1. People in rainy climates: Look for lawn turf with excellent drainage properties — especially if you live in a rainy climate. Dual drainage turf has hole-punched perforated backing and a permeable base.
  2. Parents or pet owners: If your kids or pets are running around, find turf options with antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. It keeps microbes away from your kids, and kills bacteria when your dogs pee outside.
  3. Golf lovers: Artificial turf is also the best option for backyard putting greens. Use nylon turf for golf, as it’s stronger and more durable than other synthetic turf materials.
Which type of artificial grass material is right for you? Read our updated buying guide to artificial grass brands and pick the best option for your landscape design.

Low Maintenance Landscaping for Larger Budgets ($5,000+)

Spending more now in order to save money for the next 10 years? Try these low maintenance landscaping designs.

Create an outdoor living space with a deck and outdoor kitchen.

outdoor deck and seating area for low maintenance landscape design

Transform your backyard into a true outdoor living space like the one featured above from Blue Fox Outdoor Living in Dallas. The square footage covered by your living space won’t require any yard work — put the lawn mower away and lounge outdoors! 

Add an outdoor kitchen or dedicated gathering space — a seating area and grilling station are guaranteed to be a hit with guests. 

Find a Natural Gas Grill Station for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Be your neighborhood grill master with a 4-burner natural gas grill with dual-layered grill hood and ceramic briquette trays. Find a grill with a direct pilot flame ignitor and never fumble with startup again.

NewAge Products offers a 40 inch natural gas grill in a 4-burner configuration. The platinum grill insert is also available as a liquid propane model. 

Skip all the outdoor grill accessory shopping and upgrade to the full 6-piece NewAge outdoor kitchen set. The package includes a 40-inch 5 burner outdoor BBQ, soft close cabinet doors, stainless steel handles, and 4 stone color options. 

NewAge 40 in. Natural Gas Platinum Grill Insert: Buy from Amazon, $1499.99 at time of writing
NewAge 6-Piece Outdoor Kitchen with Gas Grill: Buy from Amazon, $4419.99 at time of writing (as pictured below)
newage 6 piece outdoor kitchen with 40 inch natural gas grill buy on amazon
A full outdoor kitchen with natural gas grill is the centerpiece of a high-end low maintenance landscape design.

Talk to a live HOMR rep 24/7 — ask for our landscape design rankings in your area!

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Add a deck or patio with container gardening features.

You’d rather stain a deck or patio once a year than mow your lawn every week. A deck provides your family a central outdoor living space and cuts down your time spent doing yard work.

Plant perennials in large decorative pots for statement container gardening on your deck. You’ll save money on plants and flower beds, and limit your time spent watering flowers by keeping them in one centralized location.

Adding a deck to your home is great for overall property and resale value. In 2023, the average new deck construction recouped 35-50% in property value for homeowners (according to Monda’s 2023 Cost vs Value survey).

Not sure you’re hiring the right deck builder? See if they match any of our 7 biggest red flags about deck and patio builders — or message us for a background check!

Featured Partners

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Aledo
Godley
Caddo Mills
North Richland Hills
Ponder
Frisco
Midlothian
Grandview
Lake Worth
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Irving
Poolville
White Rock
Itasca
DeSoto
Valley View
Lancaster
Lone Oak
Springtown
East Fort Worth
Stockyards
Rockwall
Bluffview
Old East Dallas
Southern Methodist University
Millsap
Balch Springs
Roanoke
Oak Cliff
Cockrell Hill
Bridgeport
Downtown Fort Worth
Milford
Ladonia
South Fort Worth
Southwest Dallas
West
Whitt
Yale Park
Northwest Dallas
Willow Bend
Paradise
Nemo
Chico
Red Oak
Wolfe City
Bishop Arts District
Italy
Vickery Meadow
Addison
Sanger
Celina
Cleburne
Perrin
Colleyville
St. Paul
West Dallas
Love Field
Little Elm
Quinlan
West End
Krum
Newark
North Dallas
Hutchins
Nevada
Kessler Park
Lewisville
Design District
Forney
Justin
Denton
Uptown
Anna
Leonard
Lake Dallas
Venus
Wylie
Northrich
North Fort Worth
Alvord
Kemp
Farmers Branch
South
Sunnyvale
Keene
McKinney
Decatur
Lakewood
Terrell
Grapevine
Mineral Wells
Highland Village
Coppell
Murphy
Blue Ridge
Keller
Stemmons Corridor
Ennis
Eagle Mountain

Conclusion

It's easy to keep your landscaping low maintenance at any price point. Focus on the right plant species, good mulch and hardscaping usage, and smart lawn irrigation — you'll start seeing your yard work and your monthly lawn care bills decrease.

  • Expect to pay roughly $11/sf for general landscape design. Look for areas to decrease yard maintenance and save money over time. 
  • Perennials, native plants and ground covers are the most low maintenance landscaping plants you can install — and they're also the most cost-effective over time.
  • Smart lawn sprinkler systems save the average homeowner $435 per year on outdoor water bills alone. We like the Rachio 3 and Hunter Hydrawise X2 smart irrigation controllers for most yards.
  • A deck and outdoor living space improve your home's real estate value, and reduce the amount of lawn care your backyard requires.

A smart landscaping budget starts with a free quote — we have yours waiting, no sign-up needed!

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Matthew Silkwood
Director Of Sales & Marketing
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Estimated total fence cost
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