15 No-Effort Plants for a Foolproof Landscape

What homeowner wouldn’t want a lush and colorful garden just outside the window? But while a garden definitely boosts your home’s curb appeal, it also claims a lot of your free time. There’s no such thing as a maintenance-free garden, but choosing smarter plantings does cut down on the amount of pruning and watering required. So, the next time you plant, try some of these lovely options that take care of themselves. Then get ready to enjoy your new low maintenance landscaping—from the comfort of your porch swing.

  1. Ribbon Grass

    Ribbon grass

    Photo: flickr.com/disneyite

    Though it does best with moist soil and partial sun, pest- and disease-free ribbon grass thrives in Zones 4 to 9, in virtually any growing scenario—full sun or shade, wet soil or dry. Though it rarely gets taller than one foot, ribbon grass quickly spreads across even steeply sloped terrain, either to your frustration or delight, depending on your aims.

    Related: 7 Popular Ground Covers to Enhance Any Yard

  2. Forsythia


    Photo: flickr.com/photommo

    Forsythias are early bloomers whose yellow flowers signal the start of spring. To ensure your forsythia is in top form, you’ll want to prune the bush occasionally and plant it in full sunlight.

    Related: Early Bloomers—7 Spring Flowers Bringing Color NOW to a Yard Near You!

  3. Hosta

    Low maintenance   hosta

    Photo: fotosearch.com

    The low maintenance, shade-tolerant hosta needs a steady supply of moisture but will thrive in almost every soil type. They grow best in Zones 2 through 10 and benefit greatly from morning sun. Water in the morning to prevent the leaves from getting burned by the sun, and keep the plant hydrated throughout the day as needed.

  4. Texas Ranger

    Lowmaintenanceshrubs texasranger

    Photo: flickr.com/kretyen

    The vibrant lavender, purple, and magenta blooms of a Texas ranger may look like they take some work to care for—but we won’t tell the neighbors your secret. This hardy plant is built to survive on little water, so all you need to do is plant it in full sunlight, and water during the summers or in times of drought.

    Related: How To: Plant a Bush

  5. Yew

    Low effort landscaping   yew

    Photo: fotosearch.com

    There’s a reason why these evergreen low maintenance shrubs are a popular choice for borders and entryways. Their tolerance for drought coupled with their ability to adapt to almost any soil type makes for easy care. Yews thrive in partial to full sun in Zones 4 to 8 and reward you with beautiful (but inedible) fruits in early autumn.

    Related: 10 Evergreens to Beautify Your Garden Year-Round

  6. Black-Eyed Susan

    Low effort landscaping  black eyed susans

    Photo: fotosearch.com

    These drought-tolerant flowers look bright and chipper even in the sweltering summer heat, which makes them a great choice for the forgetful gardener. Black-eyed Susans will attract butterflies to your garden, but they also entice deer and rabbits, so plant them near repellant (and easy-care) plants like lavender or rosemary. Tend to your black-eyed Susans by planting them in full sun or partial shade, then watering and deadheading as needed.

    Related: Quick Tip—Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Longer

  7. Bottlebrush Buckeye

    Bottlebrush buckeye

    Photo: flickr.com/lblanchard

    In Zones 5 to 9, bottlebrush buckeye does well in full sun or deep shade, so long as it gets enough water. Disease-free and rarely needing a prune, the slow-growing low maintenance shrubs can reach an impressive height of about 15 feet. In late spring and summer, its white blooms attract attention from birds, while in autumn, its lush foliage turns a beautiful gold.

    Related: How To: Plant a Shrub

  8. Fescue


    Photo: fotosearch.com

    Homeowners have long turned to fescue as a drought-resistant alternative to traditional grass. If you’re not ready to make the switch, try it out in your garden bed instead. 

    Related: No More Mowing—10 Grass-Free Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn

  9. Bergenia

    Lowmaintenanceshrub bergenia

    Photo: flickr.com/rachelgreenbelt

    You can count on bergenia to grow in almost any condition, sunny or shaded, and its dark, broad leaves bring beauty to the yard. If you want yours to flower, be sure to position them in full sun to increase the chance of pink and magenta blooms in spring.

  10. Sedge

    Low maintenance   sedge

    Photo: flickr.com

    With a variety of different sizes, textures, and growing requirements, sedge is an ideal alternative to turf lawns. Ideal for low maintenance landscaping, these plants thrive in Zones 7 to 10, whether in partial or full shade, and require little to no mowing, fertilizing, or watering.

  11. Gold Thread Cypress

    8630 dwarf golden threadleaf cypress

    Photo: gardenerdirect.com

    Gold Thread Cypress is a low maintenance shrub perfect for both foundation and accent plantings. It’s got a compact habit and is slow growing, so it requires very little pruning. Despite its exceptional golden color, it is evergreen, and will shine bright in your landscape all year long.

    Related: Living Fences: 11 Boundary-Setting Solutions

  12. Creeping Sedum

    Creeping sedum

    Photo: istockphoto.com

    Varieties of creeping sedum, also known as stonecrop, have gained popularity in recent years. They can tolerate poor soil, drought, and general neglect, and will come back year after year. These succulents come in every color from bluish-gray to reddish-bronze, and can find a home in most any garden.

    Related: 12 Expert Tips for Eye-Catching Front Yard Landscaping

  13. Coreopsis


    Photo: istockphoto.com

    A perennial bloomer, Coreopsis will delight you with color from early summer to early fall. In colors like yellow, orange, pink, purple, and red, Coreopsis makes wonderful cut flowers that can be enjoyed inside as well as out. It’s an easy grower, and tolerates most any soil condition.

    Related: Pass on Grass: 7 Reasons to Landscape with Gravel

  14. Indian Hawthorn

    Indian hawthorne

    Photo: istockphoto.com

    A small and slow-growing evergreen shrub, Indian Hawthorn stays neat and tidy without pruning. It’s not fussy about soil, and once established, it will tolerate moderate drought. It bursts forth in spring with pink or white clusters of flowers, which give way to dark blue berries that attract birds and other wildlife the rest of the year.

    Related: 9 Bright and Colorful Houseplants You Can’t Kill

  15. Dianthus


    Photo: istockphoto.com

    Related to the carnation, Dianthus comes in multiple varieties, so there’s one for nearly every garden scenario. It has abundant flowers and is long blooming for a delightful display all summer long. Some varieties are even perennial, and it will self-sow easily. Once planted, it needs little tending to put on a good show.

    Related: The Best 10 Plants to Grow for Backyard Privacy

  16. Get the Right Gear

    15 no effort plants for a foolproof landscape

    Photo: bobvila.com

    Even if you don’t have the magic touch of a green thumb, all hope isn’t lost for an attractive yard. These easy-care plants are a good start, but also consider these gardening gadgets that do some of the work for you.