A beautiful, welcoming front yard landscape can really enhance curb appeal and increase your enjoyment of your outdoor space. However, traditional landscaping with lush green lawns, flower beds, trees, and shrubs often requires regular maintenance which takes time, effort, and money.
As a busy homeowner, a high-maintenance yard may fall to the bottom of your priority list, leaving your landscape unkempt and overgrown. But you can have a gorgeous front yard without all the work! Low-maintenance landscaping has become a popular trend, saving homeowners like you time and money.
The key to low-maintenance landscaping is choosing the right plants, materials, and features that don’t require intensive care and upkeep to look their best.
In this blog post, I will share 13 fantastic low-maintenance front yard landscaping ideas perfect for today’s busy homeowners. I’ll provide tips on choosing the best plants, materials, and designs to minimize maintenance requirements.
- 1. Xeriscaping with Rocks and Drought-Resistant Plants
- 2. Mulch Beds
- 3. Gravel and Stone Walkways
- 4. Plant Perennials
- 5. Opt for Ornamental Grasses
- 6. Add Hardscaping Features
- 7. Limit the Lawn Area
- 8. Groundcovers
- 9. Opt for Low-Maintenance Shrubs
- 10. Add Flowering Perennials
- 11. Create a Rock Garden
- 12. Include Edible Landscaping
- 13. Mulch Existing Beds
- Final Thoughts
1. Xeriscaping with Rocks and Drought-Resistant Plants
Xeriscaping refers to landscaping using rocks, gravel, drought-tolerant plants, and other materials that require very little supplemental water.
The concept combines the words “xeric,” meaning dry, and “landscaping.” Xeriscape gardens are designed to thrive in hot, arid climates where water conservation is important.
Benefits of Xeriscaping
- Requires little watering once plants are established – Plants chosen are drought-tolerant and retain moisture efficiently with their thick foliage or succulent leaves. Watering can typically be reduced to every 7-10 days. This saves significantly on water usage and bills.
- Low maintenance as plants require little pruning or trimming – The compact, slow-growing nature of succulents, cacti, and other xeriscape plants means very little fertilizing, pruning, or other intensive maintenance is required after planting.
- Visually pleasing with unique textures – The rocks, gravel, and mix of succulents provide colors, shapes, and textures that make xeriscapes highly attractive and different from traditional lawns and gardens.
Plants well-suited for Xeriscaping
- Succulents – Sedum, agave, aloe vera, jade plant
- Cacti – Prickly pear, barrel cactus, bunny ear cactus
- Ornamental grasses – Maiden grass, fountain grass, Mexican feather grass
- Herbs – Lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage
- Drought-resistant perennials – Russian sage, yarrow, gaillardia, verbena
2. Mulch Beds
Mulch beds are one of the simplest ways to reduce maintenance and make your front yard landscaping look polished. As a professional landscaper with over 10 years of experience, mulch beds are one of my “go-to” recommendations for clients looking for easy care options.
Mulch beds essentially involve covering bare soil with a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch material like shredded bark, wood chips, pine straw, or red cedar. This gives your beds and tree rings an instant finished look compared to bare dirt.
The mulch serves several useful purposes:
- Retains moisture and prevents weeds – Mulch acts as a blanket, preventing water evaporation from the soil. This means the soil stays moist longer, so less frequent watering is needed. Mulch also blocks sunlight from reaching potential weed seeds and seedlings.
- Provides a uniform, groomed appearance – Mulch gives your beds a tidy, complete look compared to bare soil. It instantly makes the yard look neat and deliberately designed.
- Can simply be replenished annually – As the mulch decomposes over the year, you can simply spread a fresh layer right over the existing mulch. Annual replenishment is fast and easy.
I recommend using 2-4 inches of mulch across all beds and tree rings. Be sure not to pile mulch directly against plant stems or tree trunks as this can cause rotting. It’s ideal to leave a little breathing space. Quality cedar and pine bark mulch can last up to a year before needing replacement.
3. Gravel and Stone Walkways
Gravel and stone walkways are a fantastic way to reduce maintenance requirements in your front yard landscape. I often recommend these materials for instant curb appeal without the hassle.
One of the biggest benefits of gravel or stone walkways is they eliminate the need for regular mowing, trimming, and edging. Grass and weeds are unable to grow through the compacted gravel or stone surface. This means no more fighting overgrowth near walkways!
Gravel and stone also provide a clean, polished look instantly. Choosing an attractive natural color and size of stone can enhance the landscape. Mixing pea gravel with larger stones or boulders adds visual interest and texture.
Proper installation is key. I always recommend laying landscape fabric or weed barrier cloth under the gravel to block weed growth. At least 3-4 inches of gravel should be compacted to prevent shifting or sinking.
4. Plant Perennials
Perennials are plants that live for multiple years, unlike annuals that die after one season. Perennials regrow every spring and bloom for multiple seasons. Some perennials are short-lived but many live for several years or decades.
The benefits of planting perennials are that they don’t require replanting every year like annual flowers. Mature, established perennials are typically drought-tolerant and low maintenance.
They only require occasional maintenance like cutting back dead growth after frost. Perennials provide structure and continuity in the garden over time.
Some good perennial options for low-maintenance landscapes include:
- Daylilies – Extremely hardy, divide easily, wide color range
- Lavender – Fragrant foliage, that thrives in hot sun and dry soil
- Ornamental Grasses – Low care, provide movement and texture
- Black-eyed Susans – Reliable bloomer, that spreads nicely
- Hostas – Shade-loving, choose disease-resistant varieties
- Iris – Striking blooms, easy care, cut back dead leaves
5. Opt for Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are a fantastic low-maintenance addition to any landscape. I rely on ornamental grasses to provide visual interest and texture without the need for regular care.
One of the best traits of ornamental grasses is that many native varieties are adapted to local conditions and thrive with minimal watering or fertilizing once established. This makes caring for ornamental grasses quite easy.
Grasses add nice movement to the landscape, swaying softly in the breeze. The sound of the grass rustling can be very soothing. They come in a diverse range of heights, shapes, and colors to fit any design.
I especially like using ornamental grasses on slopes or banks where they help prevent soil erosion. Their dense, matted root systems excel at holding soil in place.
Some of my favorite ornamental grass varieties to use include:
- Maiden Grass – Large, upright grass with tan plumes
- Fountain Grass – Mounded shape with pinkish plumes
- Switch Grass – Native prairie grass, yellow fall color
- Cord Grass – Loves wet soil, muted green-brown hue
- Carex Grass – Evergreen, low-growing sedge grass
Ornamental grasses allow you to create an attractive landscape with minimal upkeep. Let me know if you need any suggestions for selecting the right grass varieties for your yard!
6. Add Hardscaping Features
Incorporating hardscaping features is a fantastic way to instantly elevate your landscape while requiring minimal upkeep long-term. I think hardscaping is one of my go-to techniques for creating low-maintenance front yards.
Hardscaping refers to durable landscape features like:
- Stone or gravel paths
- Stone garden walls, edging, or boulders
- Water features like ponds or fountains
- Patios, decks, or built-in seating areas
The benefit of hardscaping is it provides an instant polished, designer look and feels inviting. Well-chosen rocks, pavers, and timbers create structure and permanent focal points.
Hardscape features themselves require very little maintenance compared to live plants. A stone patio only needs occasional sweeping. Gravel paths may require topping up gravel.
Hardscaping also delineates garden spaces clearly and makes plant beds look crisp. The materials withstand the elements and only improve with age.
My best tip is to invest in quality materials installed properly, as this ensures longevity. I also recommend integrating hardscape elements throughout the landscape rather than just one area.
7. Limit the Lawn Area
When designing a low-maintenance landscape, one of the best things you can do is limit the amount of lawn area. As a sustainable landscape designer, lawns are one of the most high-maintenance aspects I try to minimize.
Lawns require regular care like mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating, and re-seeding grass on the lawn. They are prone to weeds, diseases, and pests, needing constant surveillance to stay lush. This makes lawns fairly labor-intensive.
Some lawn area is nice for play, pets, or aesthetics near the home. But as a main feature, lawns necessitate continual upkeep best avoided in low-maintenance yards.
Here are some tips for minimizing lawn area:
- Keep lawn area small, just enough for functionality
- Replace turf with flower beds, rock features, ground cover
- Extend existing beds into previous lawn areas
- Use pea gravel, mulch, or stone patios to break up the lawn
- Plant low-growing thyme or sedum as lawn alternatives
The less lawn, the less mowing, edging, fertilizing, and other tasks are needed. Focus lawn near play areas, using alternative plants and hardscapes elsewhere.
Groundcovers are a fantastic alternative to turfgrass for low-maintenance landscapes. As a home maintenance expert, I frequently use groundcovers instead of lawns to reduce upkeep.
Groundcovers are plants that spread to form a dense, weed-suppressing mat over the soil surface. This provides green coverage without the need for mowing, fertilizing, or frequent watering required by lawns.
Once established, many groundcovers choke out weeds and require little care besides occasional trimming or thinning. Their roots help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes.
Some excellent groundcover options include:
- Creeping Thyme – Dense, tiny leaves with purple flowers
- Ajuga – Carpets ground with blue flower spikes
- Sweet Woodruff – Fragrant white flowers, that grow well in shade
- Sedum – Succulent groundcover, very drought tolerant
- Mondo grass – Bright green, clean-looking alternative to lawn
- Juniper – Evergreen, soft texture, some varieties spread
Groundcovers give you the look of an attractive landscape with very little required maintenance.
9. Opt for Low-Maintenance Shrubs
Strategically planting low-maintenance shrubs is a key way to reduce upkeep in the landscape. As a landscape designer, I select shrubs that thrive with minimal care once established.
Some of the best shrub options for low-maintenance landscapes include:
- Evergreen shrubs like boxwood, yew, and juniper. Evergreens keep their foliage year-round so no cleanup is needed. Boxwoods are nearly indestructible when pruned occasionally.
- Flowering shrubs like lilac, forsythia, and hydrangea add seasonal interest. Pruning immediately after flowering preserves next year’s buds.
- Nandina for multi-season appeal. Red fall color and winter berries provide interest beyond just the growing season.
- Barberry for vivid foliage. The purple and red varieties have dramatic colored leaves that need little maintenance.
Proper placement and spacing are key. Give shrubs room to reach mature size without excess pruning. Also group shrubs with similar light and irrigation needs.
Shrubs nicely delineate garden beds, provide structure, and create privacy or buffer from the street. Selecting the right easy-care varieties suited to your environment is key for a low-maintenance landscape.
10. Add Flowering Perennials
Flowering perennials are a great way to add color and interest to your landscape with minimal maintenance required. I love using perennials to boost curb appeal without increasing upkeep.
The benefit of flowering perennials is that mature, established plants are typically drought tolerant and low maintenance compared to annuals. Little watering, fertilizing, or deadheading is needed.
Vibrant flowering perennials like daylilies, iris, and coneflowers brighten up garden beds and attract pollinators. Yet they thrive with minimal care once planted.
Some excellent low-maintenance flowering perennials include:
- Daylilies – Extremely tough, reblooming, easy to divide
- Coneflowers – Showy daisy-like blooms, tolerate poor soil
- Iris – Striking blooms in spring, easy to grow
- Lily of the Valley – Sweet bell flowers, spreads readily
- Coral Bells – Elegant arching foliage, blooms in spring
- Poppies – Cheerful summer color, will self-seed
- Lavender – Fragrant blooms on drought-tolerant plants
Flowering perennials give you vibrant color where you want it without having to replant annuals each year.
11. Create a Rock Garden
Crafting a customized rock garden is a creative way to add visual interest while keeping maintenance to a minimum. With over experience, I find rock gardens thrive with minimal care once established.
A rock garden refers to an intentional landscape filled with low-growing alpine plants, perennials, succulents, wildflowers, and grasses planted among rocks and gravel.
The benefits of a rock garden include:
- Excellent drainage provided by the gravel base and elevated beds
- Little need for watering, fertilizing, or other care
- Provides a unique texture and year-round interest
I recommend incorporating a diversity of heights, colors, and textures for maximum appeal. Mix evergreen succulents with seasonal blooms. Mulch around plants to reduce weeds.
Constructing raised beds edged with stone allows you to improve drainage and showcases your creation. Arrange rocks of varying sizes and shapes for natural effect.
Rock gardens lend a beautiful, wild yet cultivated look. The rocky environment suits alpines and drought-tolerant perennials perfectly.
12. Include Edible Landscaping
Incorporating edible plants into your landscape is a great way to get enjoyment from your yard while keeping upkeep manageable. I often integrate fruits, vegetables, and herbs that serve both a purpose and aesthetic.
Fruit trees, berry bushes, edible vines, vegetables, and herbs can provide seasonal harvests for your kitchen. Yet many edible plants also have ornamental qualities like flowers, fall color, or attractive shapes and textures.
When choosing edible plants, be sure to select varieties suited to your growing zone and sunlight conditions. Fruit trees should be spaced properly for their mature size to minimize pruning.
Consider underplanting fruit trees with veggie garden beds or edible flowers. Espalier fruit trees flat against a fence or trellis. Support vining crops with proper structures.
Group edibles with similar needs for sun and water. Mulch around plants to retain moisture and reduce weeds.
13. Mulch Existing Beds
One of the easiest ways to instantly improve your existing landscaping is by applying a fresh layer of mulch. As a landscape designer, I recommend mulching beds and tree rings yearly for low-maintenance care.
Here are some of the benefits of mulching existing beds:
- Conserves moisture so plants need less frequent watering
- Suppresses weeds and prevents plants from competing for nutrients
- Prevents erosion by stabilizing soil and slowing water runoff
- Gives the yard a tidy, uniform appearance for polished curb appeal
When choosing mulch, I recommend natural organic mulches like shredded wood chips, pine straw, bark, or cedar. 2-4 inches is ideal, taking care not to pile directly against plant stems.
To apply mulch:
- Remove any weeds from beds, rake, and edge existing mulch
- Spread your mulch material across bare soil areas 2-4 inches deep
- Replenish the mulch annually as needed, typically in spring
Properly mulching trees, shrubs, and perennial beds annually is one of the best things you can do to care for your existing landscaping with very little effort required. Let me know if you need any help mulching your mature beds!
A beautiful yard does not require tedious weekly maintenance. With smart planning and design, you can create an attractive, low-maintenance outdoor space.
Implementing these simple landscaping tips allows you to cut down on yard work while still enjoying a lush, green backyard oasis.
I'm a licensed home maintenance contractor with over a decade of experience, dedicated to preserving your home's value. My expertise includes roofing, gutter installation and repair, fencing, pool maintenance, deck and patio construction, plumbing, appliance repair, lawn care, painting, garage doors, windows, sump pumps, and steam heating systems.