Incorporating various plants into your landscape is a great way to add both interest, appeal, and functional use. But if the plants require a lot of attention, they can quickly become more of a hassle than a joy. Chances are, you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to be cutting back, trimming, fertilizing, or managing pests and diseases on a bunch of high-maintenance plants.
That’s why you might be looking for a list of low maintenance plants to add to your landscape.
If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. In fact, we’ve rounded up 12 different low maintenance plants (in the trees, shrubs, and flowers categories) to help get you started.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the proper installation of these plants is key. That’s because you can easily turn a low maintenance plant into a high maintenance one if you install it incorrectly (such as putting a shade-loving plant in the full sun). We have often found that many homeowners who say they have a “high maintenance landscape” actually just have plants which are installed improperly.
Likewise, all plants, even ones we’ve selected require some degree of care. But if your landscape designer chooses wisely, that amount of maintenance can be drastically reduced.
Understanding those key points, let’s take a look at some of our top picks.
Low Maintenance Trees
While the definition of what makes a tree “low maintenance” may differ a bit, we’re considering trees that are relatively disease and pest-resistant and those that don’t need lots of care, such as regular pruning, to fall under the category of low maintenance trees. While there is no such thing as a tree that needs zero care, these 4 won’t give you lots of extra work:
1. Japanese Maple
Japanese Maple trees are famous for their bright fall foliage. There are many varieties of Japanese Maples, some of which are airy and upright and others that are compact and domed. Generally speaking, all forms of the Japanese Maple would make a good selection as a low maintenance tree that serves as a small ornamental accent.
Serviceberry trees are deciduous members of the Rosaceae family. They offer four-season interest with beautiful blooms in the spring, some fruit in the winter, bright fall foliage, and beautiful bark color in the winter. Growing and caring for a Serviceberry tree does not take a lot of work. It is a very cold-hardy tree and will perform well, even in the winter and makes an excellent small ornamental accent.
3. Crape Myrtle
Perhaps one of the most well-known trees in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area, the Crape Myrtle is often referred to as the “lilac of the South.” it has striking flowers and beautiful foliage that makes it a stunning addition to a landscape. It is also relatively low maintenance as far as flowering trees go. It only needs approximately 30 to 60 minutes of pruning each year and it will look and perform well for you. Crape myrtles come in a variety of colors and will grow to vary in size when they mature.
Magnolia trees can be evergreen or deciduous but both types are known for their large and striking blossoms. These trees are known to be hardy and adaptable. Though they prefer slightly acidic soil, they will adapt to your natural soil, even if it’s sandy or heavy in clay. These trees often serve as small ornamental accent plants, but there are some varieties that will eventually grow into medium-sized trees.
Low Maintenance Shrubs
Like trees, when looking at low maintenance shrubs, we’re looking at varieties that don’t require a lot of tending to. These are shrubs that are known to be fairly drought-tolerant and generally resistant to problems with disease or pests. Here are 4 that are easily adaptable to most landscapes:
5. Burning Bush
This shrub is named for the bright crimson color it turns in the fall. Native to Asia, this large bush will adapt well to almost any site or soil condition and requires minimal care. While it’s almost wholly hands-off, occasional pruning will help keep its size down if you have a tight space. This medium to large-sized shrub has many uses and can even create excellent privacy screens during spring through fall.
This hardy and adaptable shrub has been nicknamed “heavenly bamboo” for its ability to thrive almost anywhere and its resemblance to bamboo. Nandina is known for their evergreen nature and their unique color combinations with leaves that change from green to reddish purple. Different cultivars will grow as small or medium-sized shrubs.
These members of the Rhododendron family produce showy and fragrant blooms in the spring in colors like white, lavender, orange, gold, red, and purple. They are easy to care for as they require very little attention, as long as they were properly planted and are in moist, but well-drained soil. They are fairly slow growers so these are ideal choices for tighter spots. With regular pruning, it’s easy to keep them confined within most spaces.
Generally speaking, hydrangeas are versatile and easy to grow. There are many varieties of this flowering shrub, though Oakleaf has been said to be one of the easier to care for as they can tolerate cold weather, handle more sun, and even withstand drought. But all varieties of hydrangea are relatively low maintenance and produce stunning blooms. These shrubs vary in size from 3-8 ft.
Low Maintenance Flowers
Choosing low-maintenance perennials will help add interest and color to your landscape without adding a bunch of extra work. Perennials will re-grow each season vs. annual flowers which only last one growing season and will need to be replanted. Here are 4 that you might want to consider if you’re looking for low-maintenance flowers:
Daylilies establish themselves quickly and are easy to grow. They are incredibly drought-tolerant and therefore require minimal (if any) watering. Color variations include yellow, gold, orange, red, and purple.
Salvia is of the largest genus in the Mint family. Perennial Salvias are easy to grow and perform well in our local climate. We particularly like Russian Sage, a low maintenance perennial that produces tall spires of bluish flowers.
Lavender is known for its attractive foliage, vibrant flowers, and distinct scent, which is said to have a calming effect. It’s also an un-demanding, tough woody perennial that requires very little care. Lavender only needs well-drained soil and some room to grow and it will thrive.
More commonly known as “Tickseed,” Coreopsis is appreciated for its bright and showy flowers and its ability to thrive in almost any soil. While there are more than 100 species, almost all of them are low maintenance and drought-tolerant.
A Beautiful Design Incorporating Low Maintenance Plants
Knowing which plants to incorporate is one important piece of the puzzle—but it’s not everything. It’s also a matter of incorporating them in a way that makes sense.
As we mentioned, it’s important to ensure that all of your plants are installed in a way that will allow them to thrive. This means thinking about things like access to sunlight, watering needs, and the plant’s location in terms of other plants around it. It can be a lot to figure out.
But there’s even more to it than that. There is also the need for an eye for design in your installation process. Without that, you would risk your finished project looking like a random hodgepodge of plants installed without any real thought or plan.
This is where a talented landscape designer in Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA will be invaluable. Just like you could tell someone all of the best colors needed to paint a picture, it won’t make them able to produce a masterpiece. In the same light, ordering a bunch of these plants and having them delivered to your driveway isn’t going to get you that professionally designed landscape you’re after.
It’s also important to note that while we’ve named some of our favorite low maintenance plants, they won’t necessarily work for every property. We have dozens of other great ideas and suggestions if these plants aren’t right for you.
A beautiful, low maintenance landscape can add tremendous value—if it’s designed and installed properly. The truth is, that’s a big “if.” By making the right choice in a landscape design company, you can make sure that you wind up with the truly low-maintenance landscape you were looking to achieve.
If you’re looking for some guidance on adding low maintenance plants to your landscape, request a consultation, get your customized plan, and relax as we give you the royal treatment.