These no-fuss landscaping ideas yield gardens that practically take care of themselves.

The outdoor space includes a fire pit.

Creating an inviting outdoor space doesn’t have to be a time-consuming, backbreaking endeavor. Although there’s no such thing as a truly zero-maintenance landscape, it is possible to create a stylish backyard with minimal upkeep. Read on for six simple design ideas that can spruce up your backyard and help you spend more time enjoying the landscape—not just working on it.

1. Build a Native Plant Garden

What’s right for your backyard is highly dependent on your climate. For the best low-maintenance planting results, look for native plants that thrive in your region. Not only are these plants typically easier to establish, but they also require far less water and overall maintenance to grow. As an added plus, your native plant garden will help support biodiversity by providing food and shelter to local fauna.

FormLA Landscaping principal Cassy Aoyagi integrates drought-resistant plants into her Southern California projects.

 2. Save Space For Outdoor Entertaining

One of the easiest ways to cut down on backyard maintenance is by replacing lawn with hardscape. Whether it’s an outdoor brick patio or timber deck, hardscape helps define space for outdoor entertaining and reduces the amount of greenery you’ll need to prune and weed. However, finding the balance between hardscape and landscape is crucial, and may depend on your climate; in areas like Texas, too much hardscape can make a backyard unbearably hot in summer. For a more budget-friendly outdoor entertaining alternative, consider designing around a DIY fire pit focal point.


A variety of hardscapes offer a variety of textures and visual interest to this small backyard.

Photo: Rain Wang

3. Set Down Some Pavers

Spaced-out pavers or stepping stones offer an affordable alternative to hardscape. The shape, material, and arrangement of the pavers will also help define the character of your backyard, whether you’re going for a more playful or structured feel. To ensure long-term low maintenance, choose pavers made from sturdier, non-porous materials; set them on a sturdy foundation such as compacted sand to protect against sinking; and install pavers level to the land for easier mowing.

Stepstone's narrow concrete pavers add a graphic touch to the garden.

Stepstone’s narrow concrete pavers add a graphic touch to the garden.

Photo: Dustin Aksland

4. Add a Container Garden

Container gardening is an easy and fantastic way to add a bit of pizzazz to your backyard, especially if it’s on the smaller side. While container gardening may sound like a lot of work, you can minimize upkeep and the frequency of re-potting with the right plant and pot choices. Low-maintenance cacti and succulents are obvious options, but perennials, herbs, and shrubs can also thrive in a container. As for pots, choose something larger (colorful or sculptural pots also add personality) and a good potting soil mix specifically made for container plants. Overwintering your pots is also a possibility provided the pot is frost-resistant.

A barbecue from Alabama Joe’s is much used in the warmer months.

Large container plants add a flourish of greenery in a small outdoor space.

Photo: Paul Barbera

See the full story on 6 Backyard Landscape Designs That Need Minimal Maintenance


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