Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Any Yard

low maintenance landscaping

If you’ve been devoting a sizeable chunk of your spring and summer free time to yard work (and you’re just not enjoying it), it may be time to reevaluate your approach. When it comes to a more low-maintenance method of landscaping, we’ve got you covered with these simple changes that will still add major curb appeal. And you don’t even have to have a green thumb!

Automatic Irrigation

Nothing quite beats the convenience of a great sprinkler system, especially if you live in a dry climate. The only real drawback is price. You can install a sprinkler system yourself for right around $1,000 to $1,500, or you can hire a professional, with costs ranging anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Whichever route you decide to take, it’s worth it to consult with a professional about the scope of your system and the location of your sprinkler heads.


At one time, clover was included in most lawn seed mix for its many low-maintenance virtues. Not only does it provide ground-cover, it also tolerates dryness and droughts, is insect-resistant and does not need to be mowed as often as grass. Aesthetic tastes have since changed, and uniform blades have become the norm. But why not go “vintage” and add some clover in the mix? If you’re looking to save time on yardwork, you won’t regret it! However, if you belong to a homeowner’s association, you’ll want to check that you’re permitted to plant clover.

Perennials That Can Withstand Anything

This one is a no-brainer: your yard is only as high-maintenance as the plants it holds. There are countless options available that require very little weeding, pruning or watering, but that still add vibrant color and texture to any landscaping concept. Flowering shrubs and perennials will grow back on their own year after year—without you having to lift a finger.

Some particularly low-maintenance options include: rosemary, lavender, yarrow, violets, thyme, chamomile, daylilies, roses and dwarf varieties of trees and shrubs.

A Streamlined Technique

First, to make watering, trimming and fertilizing faster, it’s best to group plants that require similar care together. This will also make it easier to remember those requirements. Further compartmentalize your flower beds and gardens with decorative borders, like stones, bricks or wood. This creates a separation from the rest of the grass and cuts down on weed growth. You can also use mulch around plants to help keep weeds and moisture and nutrients in the soil.

A Beautiful Rock Garden

When done right, rock gardens make a big impact with relatively little time commitment once you’ve completed the planting and installation process. That’s right, rock gardens do involve some greenery, but much like the rocks themselves, they’re about as low-maintenance as you can get. The best plants for rock gardens are drought-resistant ones that need little to no trimming. Flowering shrubs, like thrift, alyssum and snow-in-summer make great additions, as do close-to-the-ground plants, like hens-and-chicks and sedum.

If you’re ready to give the rock garden concept a try, we recommend starting small. Once you get the hang of designing a garden space that incorporates rocks of varying shapes and sizes, you can add to it or create more.

A Smaller Lawn

What’s one surefire way to reduce yardwork? “Shrink” your yard. This goes hand-in-hand with the rock garden concept. The more rock, brick, stone, mulch and decorative elements in your yard, the less grass you’ll have and the less time you’ll spend mowing. “Shrinking” your yard can be a large, time-consuming undertaking, but your hard work will potentially pay off for years to come. If you’re serious about low-maintenance lawn care, it’s a must.

Call National Property Inspections Today for Home-Buying Advice

For answers to your most important home maintenance questions, call National Property Inspections. Our expert inspectors have the knowledge and experience to help you understand the lifespan and condition of your home’s major systems.

May 2018: The Outdoors

Ask The Inspector

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas to Plan Your Dream Cookout

Could your grill setup use a refresh? If you’ve been checking out your neighbor’s slick outdoor kitchen, we’ll show you the key things to keep in mind when planning your own. Learn More

The Best Birdfeeders for Every Backyard

When it comes to birdfeeders, there are a surprising number of options for attracting (and repelling) the right flock. Here, we break it down for you so you can choose the best type for inviting a variety of colorful birds to your backyard. Learn More

Expert Advice

Your Deck Railing Height and Other Safety Stuff That Slipped Your Mind

Is your deck up to the challenge of all those backyard barbeques that are just around the corner? We’ll show you everything you need to know to get your deck up to safety standards just in time for Memorial Day. Learn More

Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Any Yard

If you’re sick of devoting most of your free time to yardwork, it may be time to reevaluate your approach. Here are a few low-maintenance landscaping ideas that will help you have a beautiful yard with half the upkeep. Learn More

Snapshots From The Field

Our inspectors are constantly coming across interesting finds in the field. Sometimes they help us identify potential safety hazards, and sometimes they illustrate a maintenance DIY that didn’t quite go as planned. This month’s Snapshot from the Field is the latter.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The skylight on this 20-year-old metal roof was leaking like crazy. That’s because the homeowner attempted to seal it with the yellow spray foam insulation you see around the perimeter in order to keep bats out of the house. This caused significant damage to the flashing around the skylight and entire roof panels to pop up as a result!

This homeowner had the right idea when it comes to dealing with bats—every gap does need to be sealed up in order to prevent their entry into a home. But spray polyurethane foam is not recommended for use on roofing materials, nor is it recommended for use in such large quantities. The homeowner would have been better off ordering an inspection of the roof to discover any holes and then using a sealant recommended for use on roofing materials. Check and double-check your labels, and when in doubt, call a professional for advice.

Maintenance Matters

Speed Cleaning Tips for Your Busiest Days

Who has time to clean every day? Not us! Shave hours off your chore list with these room-by-room speed cleaning pointers. Learn More

How to Clean a Leather Couch in 4 Steps

When it comes to upholstery, leather is one of the most durable options out there. And while it doesn’t require a lot of routine maintenance, it does still need a little extra TLC from time to time. Find out how to clean your leather couch like a pro with these four simple steps. Learn More

How to Hang a Hammock

While we can’t promise that hanging your hammock will be as relaxing as actually laying in it, we’re here to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Here’s how to hang a hammock on your property for the ultimate spring resting spot. Learn More

Painting Upholstery: Easier and More Effective Than You Think

We have to admit, the idea of transforming a piece of furniture with paint seems too good to be true. Believe it or not, painting upholstery actually works! Learn how to achieve a soft, crack-free finish and the best results with the right technique. Learn More

Monthly Trivia Question

Question: What is the minimum height required for a deck railing on a residential deck, according to the most widely accepted code?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

May 2016: Home Foundation Inspection

Ask The Inspector

Q. What will my home inspector check on my home’s foundation?Ask The Inspector

A. The structure of a home’s foundation depends on several factors, including soil type, climate, structural materials, building footprint, topography of the area and age of the building. Whether you have a basement or a slab, a good foundation is essential to a safe structure.

A home inspector will visually inspect the interior and exterior of the house to determine what type of foundation was used, including the materials. The inspector will also assess the current condition of visible areas of the foundation, including noting cracks, leaks, and areas where shifting or settling are visible. Home inspectors are not engineers and are not licensed to discuss the structural integrity of a house or areas that cannot be visually assessed, so in some cases your inspector may recommend further investigation by a structural engineer.

What your home or commercial inspector can do is point out problem areas, check the grading slope, assess the drainage of areas around the foundation where water ponding may cause leaks, and point out conditions that may become dangerous. For example, standing water in a basement or crawls pace, evidence of previous water damage, or water damage near electrical elements can be safety issues for anyone occupying the home.

Be Advised

What Home Owners Should Know About Wastewater, Sewers and Septic Systems

Be Advised

Water that flows down any drain in a house is wastewater — water that must be cleaned before being returned to the environment. Depending on where you live, wastewater may be treated at a municipal sewer plant or on your own property, through a septic system.

If you live where a municipal system is in place, wastewater leaves your home through a series of pipes below the street. Using gravity or pumps, the water flows through increasingly larger pipes until it reaches the treatment facility to be properly cleaned. Some municipalities have separate systems of pipes for sanitary sewer waste and storm water. Storm water systems carry rainwater that flows off of roofs and concrete through a series of separate pipes. Eventually, this water enters a stream or river.

If you do not live in an area where a sewer treatment plant is available, you will have a private septic system, a large underground tank and absorption field, on your property. Septic systems must be professionally pumped and inspected periodically to remove solids and help microorganisms clean the wastewater more effectively.

Snapshots From The Field

What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Snapshots From The Field

  1. Nothing. Styrofoam is an efficient, cost-effective filler in a solid poured concrete foundation wall.
  2. Closed-cell foam, not Styrofoam, is the correct foam for this project.
  3. They used polyisosanurate foam instead of expanded polystyrene foam.
  4. This is Styrofoam, which is not acceptable for use as a filler in a solid poured concrete foundation wall.

Correct Answer D. The photo shows Styrofoam used as filler in a poured concrete foundation wall of a house in an area of California at risk for earthquakes. As you may have guessed, Styrofoam is not an acceptable filler in this situation, and the home inspector recommended further evaluation by a qualified structural engineer.

Maintenance Matters

Planning Your Landscape


Spring is in the air, and many home owners are eager to get outdoors and work on their landscaping. Even in the colder regions of North America, mid-May is usually past the period for freezing temperatures and a good time to start planting. So, get your gardening tools ready; it’s time to spruce up your yard.

To better define your project and your goals, take 10 or 15 minutes to carefully consider your yard before beginning a landscaping project. Look at the property from across the street. Walk up to it from several angles. Consider how your house looks with the existing vegetation.

Gardens, or landscapes, come in many varieties: oriental gardens, cottage gardens, herb gardens, even butterfly gardens. As you decide which fits the style of your home and family, first consider the broadest categories: formal gardens and informal gardens.

A formal garden or landscape is symmetrical, usually planted along a line, or axis, and centering on the front door. A secondary axis, or cross, may be designed in the backyard, perpendicular to the initial axis. Formal gardens usually include carefully tended, geometrically shaped flower beds with hard-surface paths in between each.

An informal garden is generally asymmetrical, with curved pathways and plants allowed to grow to their natural height and fullness. Plantings are more haphazard, but they can still include both native and non-native plants. Paths may be natural surface, grass or a hard surface.

Did You Know?

Keep Your Dishwasher Humming

The first motor-powered dishwasher was unveiled at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. An electric model followed in 1908. Silverware baskets were added to the door in 1969. It seems like even a century ago people despised washing dishes by hand.

Today’s dishwashers have come a long way, with self-cleaning features, hard-food disposers, china-cleaning modes and energy-saving settings. Modern dishwashers appeared in around 50 percent of United States homes in 2001, according to Energy Information Administration statistics.

For many people, dishwashers made “dishpan hands” obsolete; however, keeping them operating well takes a little maintenance.

Clean the filter: Many dishwashers, especially older versions, have a filter near the bottom of the machine to keep food particles off the motor. Clean this filter as needed or according to your maintenance guide.

Clean the spray arms: A dishwasher sprays water onto dirty dishes through small holes on the spray arms. These holes can become clogged with food and other particles. To clean them, remove the arms according to the maintenance guide, and use small, stiff wire to clear the holes. Dip the arms in warm water and white vinegar to remove calcium deposits.

Fight odors: To remove odors from a dishwasher that hasn’t been operated in a week or more, place a cup of white vinegar in a small container on both the top and bottom racks. Run this through one normal cycle.

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Monthly Trivia Question

What is the term for deliberate improvement of homes and commercial properties in urban areas to increase property values?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.