Life gets busy, and sometimes the first chores to get cut from the list are landscaping and yard work. Landscaping maintenance can be pretty time-consuming if you have lots of high maintenance plants, trees, and shrubs. If you’re tired of spending every weekend mowing, pruning, planting, and tidying your yard, then it’s time to invest in some lower-maintenance plants.
It is possible to have a yard that looks beautiful and stays tidy, all on its own. Plenty of hardy shrubs, trees, and flowers have been flourishing in Illinois for centuries without the help of humans, so why not take advantage? Here are a few of our favorite low maintenance outdoor plants in the Quad Cities metro area.
The most easy-to-maintain outdoor flowers are the native plants of our region. However, you can also choose flowers native to other parts of the world with climates similar to ours. Just be mindful not to opt for an invasive species!
Daylily is an easy-growing perennial that will last for many years. They come in a wide variety of colors and bloom from spring to the first frost in the fall. Divide your daylilies every 4-5 years. You can pass some along to a friend, or plant the splits somewhere else in your garden.
Yarrow is another easy-care perennial that provides beautiful color for most of the summer. Yarrow is also a pest deterrent, and it attracts good bugs like ladybugs. Yarrow’s pink, red, yellow, or white flowers are also popular with butterflies. In many cases, yarrow will easily naturalize and spread to fill its space.
Coreopsis is a flexible and drought-tolerant perennial, and it’s happy to grow nearly anywhere. Its vibrant blossoms, from yellow to orange to pink to red, are cheerful and bright. They usually start to bloom in early summer and rebloom periodically all the way to fall. Deadheading will encourage more blossoming.
Low-Maintenance Landscaping Plants
In terms of landscaping with shrubs and trees, you have a world of options when it comes to low-maintenance outdoor plants. Generally speaking, evergreen trees and shrubs require the least maintenance since they don’t usually require much pruning. All trees and shrubs will need a bit of extra care and attention in their first year, but once established, you can leave them to it. Ornamental grasses are also another low-maintenance option.
Boxwood is a classic broadleaf evergreen shrub. There are several different varieties of boxwood, and even a few that are resistant to boxwood blight. Boxwood can handle hard pruning if desired, but they can also grow happily on their own and still look great.
Juniper is also a very low-maintenance and dynamic evergreen shrub choice. Juniper shrubs are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. We love dwarf juniper, an Illinois native that looks great in either tree or shrub form thanks to its finely-textured needles.
Norway Spruce is a fast-growing low-maintenance evergreen tree with a pleasing, balanced cone shape. Norway spruce are popular as Christmas trees due to their symmetrical growth habit and classic pyramidal shape. It may reach heights of 50-80′ tall.
Eastern White Pine is a fast-growing evergreen that requires very little maintenance. It can get quite large, up to almost 100′ tall. But, it’ll also last a long time—often over 100 years! It’s a popular choice for windbreaks, but should be planted a reasonable distance away from buildings or wires.
Switchgrass is an attractive and adaptable ornamental grass. Several varieties feature vibrant red leaves and seed heads, which are also popular with birds in the winter. Switchgrass looks wonderful all summer and adds striking interest in winter. Simply cut the whole thing back to 2″ tall in the spring and let it grow back again.
Big Bluestem is the ultimate plant-it-and-forget-it ornamental grass. It’s also the official prairie grass of Illinois and is excellent for preventing erosion. Its stems can reach heights of 8′ tall. It will spread to fill the space where it’s planted. Like you would with switchgrass, cut the whole clump back in early spring before new growth gets too tall, and let it get on with it.
If you’re short on time but still want a beautifully landscaped yard, talk to our experts at our garden center. There are plenty of low-maintenance landscaping choices that will give you more time to enjoy your yard and spare you from having to work at it.