University of Florida

Low-maintenance Landscaping

Having a great yard doesn’t mean spending a lot of time and money. But you do need to carefully plan and choose the right plants. Use these tips and strategies to help you save time and money while maintaining a beautiful landscape.

Choose Appropriate Plants

  • Select low-maintenance Florida-Friendly plants suited for the conditions in your yard. These plants should require little irrigation, fertilization, and pest control. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for plants that thrive in your area.
  • Opt for interesting foliage rather than flowers—flowers often require more upkeep.
  • Use larger plants in your yard, so fewer plants fill your space. Additionally, use plants that have an attractive, natural form so as they grow you won’t spend much time trimming.
  • Plant evergreens such as junipers—these plants provide foliage and color all year. Some evergreen plants shed little, so you won’t have to rake often. (The shedding can even be used as mulch.)

Have a Good Design

  • Follow the principles of good design, and use simple shapes that allow for structure and repetition to organize your landscape.
  • Consider both the shape of the plant and space. Fit the plant to the area—arrange small slow-growing plants in small spaces and large fast-growing plants in large spaces.
  • Repeat the same few plants throughout your landscape (about 10 to 15) to help simplify your maintenance routines. Also, group plants with the same water and light needs together.
  • Place plants in low-maintenance landscapes so they touch before they mature (without overlapping too much). This is different from conventional planting techniques, which call for spacing plants so they barely touch when they mature.

Decorate Your Landscape

  • Use overhead structures such as pergolas, arbors, and trellises to provide shade where trees aren’t located. Overhead structures require less maintenance than trees that drop leaves and twigs.
  • Select easy-to-clean fabrics and materials when choosing outdoor furniture. Also, choose hardscapes with surfaces that are easy to clean.
  • Use containers and planters for a low-maintenance way to add color and texture to plant beds, patios, and decks.
  • Find garden ornaments to add color and texture to your garden and provide homes for wildlife or supporting plants. Most ornaments only require one annual cleaning.

Low-maintenance landscapes are possible with careful planning and plant selection. Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for more information on how to start your low-care yard!

Adapted and excerpted from:

G. Hansen, Twenty-Two ideas for a Low-Care, Low-Cost Landscape (ENH1181), UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department (04/2011).

5 Easy Steps to a Florida-Friendly Yard,” UF/IFAS Gardening in a Minute (Accessed 08/2013).

Landscaping around a model home

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