5 Landscape Ideas for People Who Aren't Good With Plants (2022)

5 Landscape Ideas for People Who Aren't Good With Plants (1)

Are you a weekend yard warrior who needs help coming up with landscape ideas to turn your yard from an unsightly mess into a sight to behold? Here are five landscape ideas to help you create a beautiful yard, even if you have a brown thumb.

1. You can't escape the streetscape

5 Landscape Ideas for People Who Aren't Good With Plants (2)

A good place to begin gathering landscape ideas is to go to the street and look at your front yard and those of your neighbors. Ask yourself about what you see in your yard and the yards on both sides of your house, said Ellen Bauske, program coordinator at the Center for Urban Agriculture at the University of Georgia's (UGA) Griffin campus: "Which one has the tidiest yard? The yard that looks tidy will be the one you will want to emulate ... or improve upon." A guiding principle to keep in mind as you study the yards around you is to match those models with your skill level and time commitment.

One way to begin creating a fresh look that will change the appearance of your landscape without going to a lot of expense is to place a bench or chair on the porch or in an area near the front door, Bauske advised. For maximum effect, she said to "Be sure to angle it so it points toward the door." Nothing says "Welcome!" more effectively than an outdoor bench or chair that invites people to stop and stay for a bit.

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Another quick, easy and inexpensive landscape idea that Bauske said will add color and increase visual interest to your yard is a pot of flowers. Like the chair or bench, she said you should place the pot on or near the front porch. "Choose the largest pot that will fit the space and your budget," she urged. "Large pots not only make a visual impact, but they require less frequent watering than smaller pots."

Better yet, with the pressures of today's today’s time-pressed lifestyles, pots are far easier to maintain than flower beds, especially if you can find a pot with a compartment for water that will wick water up into the potting soil. Many garden centers will even pot a planter for you if you purchase the plants from their inventory.

2. Love your lawn

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If you're a busy professional with little time for yard work, a tidy lawn makes a big impact, Bauske said. That's because grass is much easier and less time-consuming to care for than trying to plan, plant and maintain flower beds, she pointed out.

The key to having an attractive lawn is to keep the grass short and tidy, especially if your lawn is a mixture of grasses and weeds. Keep in mind that neat and tidy doesn't mean the lawn needs to look like the putting green of a golf course or a manicured professional baseball field ... unless you want it to. After all, many a homeowner has adopted the perspective that even weeds can look good if you keep them mowed.

"A general rule of thumb is to mow the lawn often enough that you only remove a third of the blade height at each mowing," said Kerry Smith, a home grounds team co-coordinator and state master gardener program coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. "Most turf is happiest [when] kept under two inches of blade height," added Smith, who is based at Auburn University. "St. Augustine is the exception and can be allowed to grow slightly taller."

Develop a lawn care program based on the type of grass you have and the region of the country where you live. A lawn care program for the most popular turf grasses can be found at UGA's turf grass website. "These calendars are adapted for Georgia's climate but could be widened to the Southeastern U.S.," said Clint Waltz, an extension turf grass specialist at UGA in Athens, Georgia. Implementing a year-round regimen for maintaining your lawn will greatly reduce the amount of weeds and, hopefully, eliminate them altogether.

If you're uncertain of the type of grass or grasses in your lawn, dig out a sample of the dominant grass (entire plants, roots and shoots), place it in a sealed plastic baggie and send or take the sample to your local county extension agent. To find the extension agent nearest you, do an internet search using the key words "cooperative extension." Don't be overly concerned if you have a mixture of grasses in your lawn, Bauske said. "Lots of people have more than one grass," she added. Chose the lawn care program based on the predominant grass.

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Another landscape idea for lawn care is don't be hesitant about hiring a professional. Depending on your goals and budget, you can hire companies that will lay sod (think instant lawn!) and apply the growing-season fertilizers as well as do the mowing.

3. Choose plants of steel

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Whether you are choosing plants for a pot or in-ground beds, be aware that the many varieties you can choose from are not created equal, said Smith. Seek those that are resistant to problems associated with drought, disease and pests, she advised. The staff at your local gardening center can help you make smart choices for plants that are hardy in your region.

If you are ambitious and are going to create new beds for trees and shrubs or perennials or enhance existing ones, remember that the best landscape ideas include a design that leaves a clear view of the front door, Bauske said. Remember, also, that the most successful landscape ideas often start off small. Don't bite off more than you can chew (or plant and take care of!).

If your goal is to create flowering borders, here are some recommendations for plants of steel for sunny areas that will work especially well in the Southeast.

  • Ground covers: creeping Jenny, creeping raspberry, creeping thyme (the variety Elfin is perfect for use between stepping stones), sedums
  • Bulbs, rhizomes or tubers: daffodils, iris, day lilies, canna lilies
  • Flowers: natives such as cone flowers, Black-eyed Susans and verbena (Homestead Purple is an excellent choice)
  • Shrubs: Butterfly bush, abelia, oakleaf hydrangea and fothergilla
  • Roses: Drift and Knockout roses are both resistant to black spot, the scourge of people who love roses but find them difficult to grow.
  • Trees: Crepe myrtles and any native tree such as red buds, magnolias and dogwoods
  • Herbs: Mix them into your flower beds to add texture and color and to harvest for culinary use. Some to consider are rosemary and upright thyme, such as French thyme
  • Grasses and grass-like plants: Panicum virginicum Shenandoah, fountain grass, pampas grass, carexes and sedges. The latter two stay small and can be used to fill in gaps between perennials. They are also evergreen and will keep garden areas from being bare during winter when flowers are dormant.

If you have a shady yard, here are some recommendations for plants of steel for shade or areas with filtered light.

  • Ground covers: Ajuga, sweet woodruff, Lily of the Valley, partridge berry
  • Small plants: Ferns, hostas, Aspidistras (cast iron plants, which will add a strong vertical visual interest)
  • Shrubs: Hydrangeas (If you have a grouping of hydrangeas, plant ferns such as autumn ferns among them. The ferns are evergreen and will provide a soft foundation that will keep the hydrangea stems from looking like a bunch of bare sticks in winter when their leaves have dropped.)

4. Aim for a minimum of maintenance

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Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a zero maintenance landscape — no matter how much thought you put into your landscape ideas! Even if your hire a lawn service company, for example, you'll likely still have to pull weeds and water and replant pots as seasons change.

There are, however, some landscape ideas that will help you cut down on maintenance. Some have been mentioned previously, such as having a lawn instead of flower beds. Other landscaping ideas to reduce maintenance are:

  • Mulch planting beds heavily with fall leaves. As the leaves decompose they will enrich the soil and help reduce weeds. "Take care not to mound leaves against the stems of woody plants," said Smith.
  • Fill in flower beds with ground covers as much as possible. Like mulch, ground covers help keep weeds at bay.
  • Use native plants as much as possible. They tend to be hardy and are adaptable to stresses caused by drought and local pests once established.
  • Because life is nothing but choices, instead of planting a lot of flowers in your beds (even bulletproof plants can require deadheading, staking and dividing), consider replacing perennial flowers with woody shrubs and trees. Many of the latter only require pruning once a year, if that.
  • For shrubs, consider viburnums, spiraeas, nine bark, wiegelia and hydrangeas.
  • Dogwoods and eastern redbuds are popular spring flowering trees and crepe myrtles add summer color. Dwarf evergreens such as junipers can be used to add color as well as texture.
  • If you have a very small and shady front yard, consider planting dwarf mondo grass for your lawn instead of grass.

5. Relax and enjoy

With your new landscape in place, go back to the street to see how your landscape ideas have turned out. You'll likely come up with some new ideas to tweak the work you've done and will probably encounter some neighbors out for a walk. They'll no doubt admire your work as much as you do. Invite them to the chair or bench you placed near the front door when you began your project. As you do that, remember that gardeners like to share. It's a safe bet they'll want to hear where you came up with your landscape ideas.

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What is the best low maintenance garden? ›

Shrubs. Shrubs are one of the best low-maintenance plants to choose for your garden. Try replacing high-maintenance flower beds with shrubs and hedges. They are easy to plant and are a great way to add texture and interest without needing much attention.

How can we improve the landscape? ›

7 ways to improve landscape design
  1. Reimagine hardscape and bed lines. Serpentine lines both invoke the imagination and have a relaxing effect upon the mind. ...
  2. Repeat key elements. ...
  3. Interject an element to induce transition. ...
  4. Become reacquainted with color flow. ...
  5. Mix up your materials. ...
  6. Create different levels. ...
  7. Add a gate.
Sep 25, 2013

How can I make my yard look nice cheap? ›

Recycle an old watering can, lay down free mulch, hang some string lights and you can create a charming, cozy yard at little to no cost.
20 Cheap Landscaping Ideas
  1. Add a walkway. ...
  2. Save with perennials. ...
  3. Spread some mulch. ...
  4. Plant flowers around your mailbox. ...
  5. Plant a tree sapling. ...
  6. Raise your garden bed.
May 9, 2022

What type of landscaping adds value? ›

Plant trees.

One word: trees. Planting trees is the one landscaping project nearly every expert recommends for increasing a home's value.

What is the first thing to do when landscaping? ›

Begin from the house and work outward. Remember to plan for the mature size of the trees and shrubs to avoid having to move them later, when they outgrow their space! Deciduous shrubs planted in front of evergreens will change the look seasonally.

What is landscaping without plants called? ›

The term zero-scaping (or zeroscaping) is sometimes substituted for xeriscaping due to phonetic similarity. When used seriously, zero-scaping usually refers to a different type of low-water landscaping that uses very few plants or none at all.

What can you put in outdoor planters Besides plants? ›

7 Things to Put in Planters Besides Flowers
  1. Vegetables. Image Credit: Liudmila Chernetska/iStock/GettyImages. ...
  2. Herbs. Image Credit: AustinChan/iStock/GettyImages. ...
  3. House Plants. Image Credit: Stephen Paul for Hunker. ...
  4. Decorative Stones or Moss. ...
  5. Ornamental Plants. ...
  6. Faux Plants. ...
  7. Succulents.

What can you put in flower beds besides plants? ›

Sand, gravel, mulch and bark are all low-maintenance alternatives to grass. Plus, they can add a pop of color to break up the landscape.

What is the easiest yard to take care of? ›

Rock gardens typically contain drought-resistant plants that don't need much care. Moreover, the rocks themselves are decor that never needs to be watered or tended to in any way, and they still have a natural visual appeal like plants. Just make sure to choose plants with similar growing needs for your rock garden.

How do you make a zero landscape? ›

How to Xeriscape a Yard With No Grass : Landscaping Designs & Ideas

What is the easiest outdoor plant to take care of? ›

Hostas. Hostas can be one of the easiest perennials to grow—as long as deer and slugs don't frequent your garden. (Natural repellents are available if you love hostas and have these unwelcome visitors.) Varieties range from tolerating dappled sun to tolerating part sun, such as 'Liberty' hosta.

How can I get a garden makeover for free? ›

How to get a garden makeover for free?
  1. Bursts of colour. For the first garden makeover tip, carefully dig up flowers and shrubs and replant them in clusters with similar colours to maximize the impact of what you've got. ...
  2. Create a path. ...
  3. Recycle old tools. ...
  4. Decorate your walls. ...
  5. Ditch the shed. ...
  6. Swap some cuttings.
May 3, 2022

How do you make an easy care garden? ›

How to Create a Classic Low Maintenance Garden - YouTube

What flowers dont spread? ›

Here are some well-behaved perennials that (for me) don't spread, don't need staking, don't have pest problems, and are long lived: Hemerocallis (daylilies) Baptisia australis (false indigo) Astilbe.

What plant can survive anything? ›

Pothos Plant

Pothos plants aren't picky about where they live indoors (just don't put them out in direct sunlight all the time). “They can live in dry soil if you neglect them, and in wet soil if you over water,” Fleming-Barnhardt says. Sounds like a dream come true!

What is the most resilient flower? ›

Cosmos – one of the most resilient flowers for a border

It always come up trumps, whatever the weather. As you dead head cosmos, they bush out, pumping out more flowers and delicate foliage as the summer goes on.


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