no maintenance garden ideas

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Welcome back! Today we’ve got some no maintenance garden ideas that will keep your landscaping fresh with very little effort.  

This article is for:

  • landlords who want less exterior maintenance
  • my fellow millennial homeowners who are new to gardens
  • people who have other **** to do and can’t tend a BHG masterpiece every morning.

Admittedly, I am not a particularly strong gardener.  In fact, I kill plants on the regular.  

You know zucchini?  The perfect beginner vegetable?  

I killed them three years in a row.  The fourth year I barely had 4 zucchinis to eat.  

It’s embarrassing, I tell you!

All that to say – these are the perennials that have survived the unlivable conditions of my garden.  

If I can grow them, anyone can.


Some quick basics to note:

  1. These are perennials – meaning, you plant them once, and they grow back every year.  The other option would be annuals, which need to be planted yearly.  We’re not going there today.  
  2. We live in New Jersey (technically on the border of “hardiness zones” 6a-7b).  These plants are appropriate for similar climates.  If you live in the south, you might want other kinds of plants like cacti and aloes.  
  3. These plants will only need attention 0 to 1 times per year.  
  4. You will need some simple equipment to plant and maintain these perennials:

Now that you’re prepared, let’s plant some no maintenance garden ideas in your garden, to keep beauty in full bloom for both you and/or your tenants!


Rhododendrons

no maintenance garden ideas

First up, the colorful and broad rhododendron.  They’re known for growing quite large – be sure to check the tag before you plant it.  

We got the “2 ft.” variety, so they chill quite nicely under our peach tree.  Our neighbor has a giant one as one of the shrubs in front of her house.  

Rhododendrons make quite a statement, and present some gorgeous colors in springtime!

Check out the Farmer’s Almanac for specifics on Rhododendrons.


Burning bush

how to make a large yard low-maintenance
this is how our burning bush looks when it isn’t “burning,” i.e. in the springtime.

Another huuuuuge shrub, the burning bush is great in that it fills a big space while still bringing color and beauty.  Think of them like a backdrop in the school musical.  

They might need a trim about once a year, but otherwise provide delightful color once fall comes along.

That’s how the burning bush got their name – its flaming red display when the weather turns cooler.  Pretty awesome, right?


Hostas

no maintenance garden

All hail the hearty hostas!  

Little green blurbs of fun and fancy leaves, hostas are such wonderful additions to any no maintenance garden.  

If you plant a bunch in a row, they perfectly line the side of a driveway, front of a house, or a long pathway.  

Once they get big enough, you can “split” a hosta but digging it up and literally chopping it in half.  (Be gentle, but.. that’s the basic idea).  

Hostas move around the yard easily, too – their feathers are not easily ruffled.  Ours seem to like shade.  They shoot up flowers at the end of the season, and then call it quits for the winter.  

Once they look brown, you can pull off the dead stuff (professionals call this pruning) and wait until spring. 


Lilies

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Oh, sweet beautiful, colorful lilies.  

Many people plant these bulbs in the fall (as in, you put the ugly looking root underground, forget where it is, and get pleasantly surprised in the spring when a lily pops up).  

They like sun, they multiply, and when they bloom – oh, the beauty!  What an amazing sight.  Color sings from their shoots like a gospel choir in your garden.  

Like hostas, lilies don’t mind moving around every once in a while – if they look crowded, get a shovel, dig it up, carefully separate it in half, and boom – you got yourself some more lilies for elsewhere in your garden.  

I did this last fall and can happily report that nothing bad happened.  Lilies came up in a new spot, right where I forgot I’d planted!


Chrysogonyms

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It was a lovely fall day when my in-laws arrived on their snow bird trek south with a trunk full of cardboard boxes boasting these chrysogonyms.  They insisted on planting them in a row at the front of our house to trim off the edge of the garden nicely.  

They swore that in the springtime, the color would pop and make a lovely bed of flowers!  

I choked back my skepticism and figured, they know a few things, so I’ll just let them plant these strange little flowers and hope for the best.  

Sure enough, each year, these little heralds of spring stick their yellow noses out to say, “what’s up!,” providing cheer to all the dog walkers and stroller drivers who come by our sidewalk.  

They are so easy and so beautiful, the ROI on these plants is insane – I’ve never lifted a finger on them.  Plant it and forget, kind of like crock pot meals when you have no kitchen.  

How’s that for a no maintenance garden idea?


Roses

Low maintenance garden design pictures

Ok, these are a little bit more intimidating, if for no other reason than that they’re famous.  Guns and Roses.  Every rose has its thorns.  Kiss from a rose!  I never promised you a rose garden.  Everything’s coming up roses.  

Good God, the expectations for a rose these days!  

Anyway, don’t be scared.  The roses in front of our house survived years of neglect.  They were there before we bought our FHA 203k HUD home, which means they had no caregiver for the two years the house was vacant.  

Prior to that, given the shape of the rest of our foreclosure, we can confidently assume that they were outright ignored for many years.  Yet, the determined florals persist!  

Roses are one of the no maintenance garden ideas on this list that will require just a tad bit of attention:

Don’t forget to cut them wayyyy back at the end of the season – they’ll grow back next year, promise!  


Bonus round: herbs!

Yes, you can achieve beauty and function, all in one perennial.  Low maintenance garden ideas aren’t limited to just shrubs!

Mint

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…but put it in a pot!  Mint is contagious.  It is persistent. It gets knocked down, but it gets up again, you ain’t never gonna keep it down.  

Mint is akin to the marketing team behind Shen Yun.  It will find you.

If you want to plant mint, put mint in a container so that it doesn’t impede on the rest of your beautiful garden.  

About once a season, I trim off the dead ends of my mint plants.  They always grow back in about a week.  


Rosemary

low maintenance garden
our rosemary bush early this season, coming right along!

Talk about a sensory champion!  We just love our rosemary bush.  

It started out as one of those herbs you get at the grocery store.  You know, you buy it because it’s the same cost as one little sleeve of herbs, and doesn’t that little sleeve always turn to slime before you get the chance to cook with it?  

That’s what prompted my purchase of our rosemary bush.  We stuck it in the ground in plentiful sunlight, forgot all about it, and continuously enjoy fresh rosemary right up until about Christmas each year.  

I usually remember to cut it back sometime around New Years.  It returns faithfully each spring!


Well that wraps up our tour of no maintenance garden ideas. Rhododenrons, burning bushes, hostas, lilies, chrysogonyms, roses, and herbs!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just pick one! It’s a start, right?

Do tell, which of these perennials do you keep or plan to plant?


no maintenance garden ideas