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Planning Your Low-Maintenance Landscape

Aug 1, 2020 | Lawns

So you’re ready to upgrade your landscape? Planning a new landscape is an exciting prospect — new landscaping lends light and visual energy to a space, can make your land more functional, and may even become a conversation starter for you and your neighbors. However, it’s important to remember that while planning a new landscape is exciting, the maintenance and upkeep of your new yard or outdoor landscape will require a great deal of time, energy, and money to keep it in good shape over time. When you’re planning your new landscape, it’s important to consider ways that you can keep your landscaping low-maintenance so that it will remain beautiful for years to come.

Define your priorities

If you don’t have the energy, time, or resources to take on a full-time job maintaining your landscaping, there are a number of things you can do to keep your landscape low-maintenance and sustainable. Before you begin making plans for your big landscaping project, consider what exactly you’d like to get out of your new landscape. Build your plans based on your priorities: are you hoping to create shade in your yard? Are you hoping to create a bright and beautiful landscape that will complement and emphasize your home’s best qualities? Are you hoping to create a landscape for hosting friends or for your children or pets to play in?

Once you have a sense of what is most important to you, you are ready to begin crafting a landscape that will meet your needs and will be easy to maintain. Choose to invest more in the aspects of your landscape or garden that are most important to you, and opt for less expensive and lower maintenance choices for the rest of your space. If you know what is most important, you will be less likely to fall victim to peer pressure or the influence of what you think your landscape should include. It will be easier to maintain and care for plants and spaces that are serving you and your family well.

Do you really want a large, grassy lawn? Or do you simply want it because you feel that it’s an expectation? If a lawn won’t serve you, choose another way to fill your space. Large swaths of grass are high-maintenance and time-consuming to care for, and if it isn’t what you really want, it will be more difficult and tiresome to care for it. Consider using other landscaping features, like decks, patios, or ground covering plants to utilize and fill space. Though structures like decks are more costly and labor-intensive upfront, they require very little maintenance over time and can serve you and your family in similar ways as a grassy lawn, creating spaces for playing and spending time with pets or children.

Choose low-maintenance plants

When you begin choosing plants for your landscape, do your research first. Choosing plants that require little care will make your landscape more sustainable in the long term. Find out what climate zone you live in, and choose plants that will thrive in your local environment. These plants will require less active care, water, and fertilizer for survival. Here in Zone 7a, there are a number of beautiful plants that require little care and water to survive and thrive in different levels of sunlight. For example, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias all thrive in direct sunlight. Begonias and hostas thrive in the shade.

In addition to searching for plants that thrive in your local habitat, choose perennials over annuals. Annuals live for only a single growing season, after which they die, while perennials bloom every spring, year after year. Perennials don’t require replanting each year, and therefore require significantly less maintenance than annuals. Perennials add stability to your landscape, as they require the same maintenance year after year.

Another technique for reducing the maintenance required to care for your plants is to choose fewer varieties of flowers or plants. Choosing a few plants you love as a base for your garden or landscape will require less maintenance and thought that incorporating numerous varieties of plants, all with different requirements for care. Choose plants that are visually appealing in every season, like plants that flower in the spring or summer, have beautiful golden leaves in fall, and create unique shapes in winter when their leaves fall. Drought-resistant or generally low-maintenance plants, like cacti, shrubs, and hardy trees are all also good options for sustainability.

Make your landscape self-sustaining

When planning your landscape, don’t focus only on plants, but also on the infrastructure that will create less labor and thought in the long-term. Find systems to do the tasks that are burdensome or that require significant effort. If you don’t like watering your plants, install a sprinkler or irrigation system to ensure that your lawn or garden remains well-watered. Choose brick, stone, or slate surfaces instead of wood to reduce the need to paint frequently or maintain the appearance of the structures.

Don’t like maintaining your landscape yourself? Consider hiring a lawn care firm. By hiring someone to do the work for you, you will ensure that your landscape or yard is being cared for by professionals who know how to best care for your plants. It will also allow you the room to insert higher-maintenance elements into your landscape and absolve you of tiresome chores like mowing your lawn or weeding the garden. At Johnson’s Landscaping, our landscape maintenance program helps to keep your plants, lawn and landscaping healthy and thriving. Hiring a professional team to help you maintain your landscaping will prevent damage to your plants, allow them to live longer and thrive without weeds, and can increase the value of your property.

Still not sure where to begin? Johnson’s Landscaping can assist you in designing a low-maintenance landscape that meets your needs and priorities. Together, we can work to choose the right plants and landscaping elements for your schedule, skill-level, existing landscape, and budget. We have over a century of experience creating exciting and functional visual landscapes for our customers, and also offer maintenance services to keep your yard, garden, or landscaping endeavor in tip-top condition.

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About the Author

Matt Johnson grew up in a family of landscapers and gardeners as the grandson of Raymond Johnson (Founder, 1933, Johnson's Florist and Garden Center) and son of James and Carol Johnson (Founders, 1960, Johnson's Landscaping Service, Inc.). Since 2007, he has led Johnson's Landscaping Service with his brother, Charlie.  Matt and his wife Jaime live in Petworth in Northwest DC with their 3 sons and 2 big dogs.


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