Low-maintenance garden landscaping allows you to enjoy your garden without excessive time spent on looking after your outdoor space. They are also perfect if you don’t have much space to work with, like a unit backyard.
So, if you’re someone who loves the thought of having a garden but not the actual gardening aspect, check out our low-maintenance garden design ideas below! You’ll find everything from ways to reduce lawn mowing, pruning and plant watering to the types of plants you need for a low-maintenance outdoor area.
Gardening image credit: Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash
Essential Garden Tools for a Low-Maintenance Yard
Even a low-maintenance garden will need some tools to keep it looking spick-and-span. You’ll find all of these items affordably on your favourite garden retailer sites or in your local nursery.
1. A hose with an adjustable spray nozzle.
Where to buy: Nursery, hardware store, big-box retailers.
You’ll need this for watering plants and washing down any outdoor furniture or pavement. It can even be used to wash down your exterior walls and retaining walls to keep them looking spick and span too.
2. Gardening gloves.
Where to buy: Nursery, hardware store, big-box retailers.
Being hands-on with your garden will leave your hands exposed to possible saps, toxins, smells and insects. Gardening gloves helps protect your skin from whatever is lurking in or around your plants. They also help keep your nails free from soil too!
Tip: Ensure your gardening gloves fit well to prevent blisters or slipping, allow movement and are waterproof.
Where to buy: Nursery, hardware store, trade supplies store and big-box retailers.
A garden spade can be used for many different purposes. You can use a spade to dig out plant holes, transport small plants, edge garden beds or lawns and more. The size of spade you want depends on the size of your low-maintenance garden, as you can find them in all different sizes and handle lengths to suit.
4. Hand gardening tools.
Where to buy: Nursery, hardware store, trade supplies store, grocery stores and big-box retailers.
Gardens big and small will need hand gardening tools at some time or another. Hands tools are small enough for gardening in pots and beds, allowing you to dig, plant, aerate, trim and all sorts without big clunky tools.
Top gardening hand tools:
5 Best Low-Maintenance Garden Landscaping Ideas
1. Artificial grass.
One of the most popular low-maintenance garden landscaping ideas of 2020 was artificial grass, also known as artificial turf. Once installed, all you need to do to maintain artificial grass is sweep it regularly and rinse off with a hose. Simply spot clean for any spills like food or drink, oil, tree sap, etc.
Even pet owners will love artificial grass. All you need to do is remove solid waste as you normally would and wash off the area with your hose once a week. Over time, you may notice a urine smell, but simply wash with a white vinegar and water solution.
There are now many types of artificial grass available, ranging in feel, colour, blade style and more.
How much does artificial turf cost?
Artificial turf starts at around $50 per square metre, but this does not include installation. Depending on the surface you’re lying your artificial grass on, you may need help with removing old grass or preparing the surface.
How do you install artificial grass?
Before installing artificial grass, the ground will need to be level with any pipes, sprinklers or similar taken into account. You’ll then need a levelling surface, like crushed and compressed rock, before installing any pins and tape as instructed by the turf manufacturer.
If you’re not confident installing your own artificial grass, call in an expert.
2. Native plants.
As native plants are used to the climate and conditions of your garden, they require less upkeep than those not native to the area. They’ll be used to drought or high-rain conditions, being in direct light or shade, soil conditions and more.
However, when adding native plants to your low-maintenance garden landscaping plans, ensure you’re still taking into consideration any control factors. Are you using pots or beds? Will you be planting on a low-light balcony or in a backyard? Do you prefer no flowers? Would you prefer never having to prune?
A visit to your local nursery will have you walking away with the plants you need and everything to keep them happy and healthy — with minimal maintenance.
3. Water feature.
A simple way to upgrade your outdoor space without even thinking about plants or grass is by adding a water feature. Fountains come in all shapes, sizes and styles these days, even coming with light displays and solar power!
Before installing, check if you need any fencing or permits with your local council. Most small water features don’t require anything other than installation, but it still doesn’t hurt to check, especially if there will be pooling water.
Top types of water features:
- Fish pond.
- Water fountain.
- Reflecting pools.
- Ornamental pools.
- Water garden.
Obviously some water features will require more cost and maintenance than others, but you can simply go with a statue water fountain for little investment.
A low-maintenance garden landscaping secret is to mulch your garden twice a year. Mulch helps prevent water loss, keeping your watering needs down and your plants thriving. Plus, it also keeps weeds at bay, saving you time there too.
You can even make your own mulch! There are several ways to do this, including keeping a green compost bin or shredding leaves to spread over your gardens. If you look on community pages (like on Facebook), you may be able to find people giving away high-quality mulch or for very cheap too.
5. Outdoor entertaining area.
Want to get rid of the thought of mowing altogether? Replacing your grassed area with concreted, paved, tiled or gravelled entertaining space will be the low-maintenance garden design for you.
Outdoor entertaining areas, especially covered ones, can increase the value of your property. If you have the budget for it, add in an outdoor kitchen with a BBQ and a large outdoor dining table big enough for the whole family and then some.
With a concrete, tile or paved outdoor area, the only maintenance you’ll really need to do is sweeping and maybe a pressure-clean every now and then.
5 Best Low-Maintenance Plants for Your Garden
As mentioned above, Australian natives are great for a low-maintenance garden. When partnered with the right type of mulch, they require minimal maintenance, and will help with your local ecosystem too.
1. Finger Lime.
The Finger Lime is one of six species of native citrus in Australia. Popular in Aboriginal and Asian cuisine, Finger Lime shrubs or trees grow up to 5 metres high, with fruit reaching anywhere from 6 to 12cm long. They tend to be a slow-growing plant and prefer frost-free soil with plenty of quality compost.
2. Everlasting (Paper) Daisies.
Paper Daisies are a low-maintenance flower, blooming between late spring to early autumn. They come in a range of colours, from whites, yellows, orange and blue to pink to deep reds and mauves. The Everlasting Daisy plant loves sandy soil and full sun, so is probably better for a garden than a balcony.
3. Elkhorn and Staghorn Ferns.
Other than being one of the most low-maintenance native plants for Australian gardens, Elkhorns and Staghorns can fit in almost any yard or balcony. As they grow on other trees with minimal root systems, maybe people also grow them off of walls or other garden features. They absorb water from the air, so do prefer warm, humid conditions, but aren’t too fussed about light, preferring shade with some sun.
4. Lilly Pilly.
Lilly Pillys are ideal if all the greenery you want in your low-maintenance garden landscaping design is a hedge or topiary. They grow to around 20 metres and produce tiny white flowers in summer, as well as pink edible fruits. Even better, Lilly Pilly plants are low-maintenance, so it allows you to spice up your garden with a hedge and have minimal maintenance. You could even hire someone to trim them so there is no work for you!
Pandorea plants are known for being grown along pergolas, arches and trellises in Australia. All this climbing plant needs is some moist, well-drained soil in full sunlight, and some pruning after flowering. Speaking of flowers, the Pandorea reveals beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers between spring and summer in a range of colours.
Make your low-maintenance garden landscaping even less work and speak to your local landscaper!