top of page
  • Writer's pictureLVHG

How To Design a Low Maintenance Garden

Updated: May 6

The idea of having a beautiful low maintenance garden and yard is a dream for many of us—a place that we can come home to relax after a long day of work, instead of having to spend evenings mowing the lawn, pruning trees, or watering plants and flowers. The dream of low maintenance gardening may seem too good to be true, but that’s certainly not the case. There is one disclaimer: designing and developing your yard for low maintenance gardening will require a fair bit of work and pre-planning in the beginning, but if done properly, you can create a beautiful space that will only improve and become more beautiful over time with very little upkeep required. After the initial effort is completed, you’ll be able to spend more time relaxing and enjoying your garden instead of working in your garden.


There are three key ideas to remember when creating your low maintenance gardening plans.

1. Embrace Succulents for Low Maintenance Gardening

​Succulents are some of the lowest maintenance plants you’ll find. They’re drought-tolerant because they store water in their leaves, thriving on the average rainfall we receive in Allentown. Of all the succulents available, hens and chicks are definitely the easiest to care for, and they make a gorgeous groundcover. They thrive in poor soil and will happily spread, producing numerous “baby chicks” to fill in empty spaces. Hens and chicks are considered alpine plants, so they remain content in some more extreme conditions, from cold to hot, or bright sun to partial shade.

The attractive rosettes of hens and chicks add unique visual interest, and their occasional blooms on tall stalks are unusual and intriguing. They come in many different varieties with a wide range of colors, sizes, and textures. Foliage colors can include greens, browns, pinks, purples, reds, and yellows, and can be vibrant and glossy, or muted and matte. Leaf shapes are usually round with either pointy or rounded tips, and some have colored tips. There are even some varieties that are fuzzy, with fine hairs growing across their rosettes that look like cobwebs.

With so many species of hen and chicks, you’ll be able to find something you love. We have an impressive assortment of options at the garden center for you to choose from.

2. Ditch the Lawn

Let's be honest, plenty of yard maintenance time is spent taking care of that empty expanse of green grass. Having a patch of lawn to take care of used to be a status symbol, but in reality, lawns can be a bit tiresome. They’re the opposite of low maintenance, with the watering, fertilizing, mowing, power raking, aerating, and pulling dandelions...

Maintaining a healthy lawn also has a bit of a negative environmental impact. They use up a lot of water, and they eliminate wildflowers that are so important for our pollinators. So, if it's possible, get rid of the lawn and opt for an alternative.

You might be wondering what you can use instead of traditional lawn grass. There are plenty of options: you could seed with a mix low-growing wildflowers, you could replace it with ground covering clover, perennials, and shrubs, cover it over with landscape fabric and mulch or rocks, or replace it with pathways, patios, or stonework. The garden center has a great selection of mulch and rock options year-round.

3. Pick Native Plants for Remarkable Value

Your best bet for easy-care plants, shrubs, and trees is to choose perennials that are native to Allentown. There are so many varieties of native perennials available. From ground covers to fruit trees, flowering plants, and shrubs, we’ve got a wide variety of beautiful native perennials at the garden center.

When selecting native plants for your yard you’ll need to think about the needs of each plant and the best location for it in your yard. Perennials need to be placed in locations that meet their needs for sunlight, moisture, and space, to ensure your low maintenance gardening plan will go off without a hitch. Luckily, native perennials are hardy through our Allentown winters. While some shrubs and trees may require regular watering in their first year after planting, once they are well-established, you should be able to stop watering completely. Native plants should thrive fabulously with the average precipitation we get here every year.

At the garden center, we’ve got plenty of flowering perennials to choose from to add some blossoming beauty to your yard. One of the best parts about low maintenance native perennials is that they’re the best option to help pollinators do their thing because bees and butterflies recognize local flowers and are more likely to stop by for a sip of nectar. A garden full of native plants is an oasis for native wildlife and can help support important local populations of native critters and birds.

4. Choose Mulch: Simple, Easy, and Good for the Environment

Mulch is one of the lowest maintenance options available for landscaping. It’s affordable, it’s simple to install, it's easy to find, and it’s good for your garden. Mulch helps keep moisture in the ground, regulates ground temperature to reduce plant stress, and insulates our plants in winter. It also offers shelter for native pollinators, helps suppress weeds, slow erosion, and as it breaks down it adds nutrients to the soil. The only downside to mulch is that it does need to be topped up with new mulch every few years to keep it looking fresh. Sprucing it up every few years is still pretty low maintenance compared to the weekly maintenance of lawn mowing.

An alternative to mulch is stone or gravel. While it’s more expensive than mulch, it lasts much longer. You can often go 8-10 years before needing to replace stone or gravel landscaping.

Designing a beautiful low-maintenance garden is totally achievable if you keep these three key tips in mind. Our friendly staff at the garden center can help you develop a plan and choose the perfect plants to get your garden on the track towards low maintenance gardening, and maximum garden enjoyment.

The perfectly manicured vibrant green lawn is a thing of the past. After all, it’s expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Embrace the new trend towards low maintenance gardening, you’ll get to spend more time relaxing and enjoying your yard, while also spending less money on your water bill, and supporting local wildlife populations. A low maintenance yard is a win for everyone.

Stop by for a chat with our experts and find all the plants, supplies, and advice you’ll need to design your low maintenance garden.


bottom of page