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Low Maintenance Garden Design – Tips and ideas for creating your perfect garden

Last updated on January 22nd, 2020

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Low maintenance garden ideas

We all want the most beautiful inspiring gardens like the ones we see on ‘Gardeners World’, or when we visit impressive stately home gardens on our days out, but very few people have the enthusiasm or time to pull it off. After all, most large inspiring gardens you see either have a large team of full time gardeners, or the owners of such gardens are very knowledgeable, artistic and most importantly have lots of spare time to build and maintain such a spectacular garden.

low maintenance garden design does not mean you have to have a fully paved garden with not much going on within it. With some careful consideration, you can decide exactly what you want from your garden. Low maintenance could simply mean having a smaller simple lawn, with straight paved paths and low maintenance plants, such as evergreen shrubs and conifers that don’t grow too tall and require no pruning.

Why might a person consider creating a low maintenance garden

  • Lack of time to maintain the garden
  • Lack of knowledge to properly look after different types of plants
  • When disabled and unable to do all garden jobs
  • Simply want to enjoy your garden with the least work possible
  • A non gardener

Garden design priority list

It is best to create a priority list so you can note down what you want from your garden, perhaps you want a lawn for your children to play on and a small vegetable patch so they can learn to grow their own food. However you might not want to maintain a manicured lawn and look after flower beds with more high maintenance shrubs in.

How to go about designing a low maintenance garden that meets the priority list

In this instance you might go for a formal lawn with straight edges to make cutting quick and easy and go for a hard wearing lawn grass that takes less care. You could even go a step further and choose a lawn mower with a wider cutting area, and edging shears that collect the grass clipping.

low maintenance garden ideas for a simple inspiring design.

Design by Outer Space Garden Design

You might then choose to install a small vegetable patch close the house for growing veg and then plant beds and borders with low maintenance evergreen shrubs so that there is little fallen leaves to collect in Autumn. Mulch the soil with bark or chipping to suppress weeds.

You might then create paths with patterned imprinted concentrate that is available in many stunning designs. This helps to stop weeds coming up, rather than the alternative of laying flags or paving that would need regular weeding between them. Finally you might opt for a real looking aluminium fence which are now becoming popular, they have a look of real wood but do not need painting every year.

As you can see you can quickly create a low maintenance garden with a little planning.

Ideas for creating a low maintenance garden

Choose low maintenance plants

This is one of the most important aspects that if you choose wrong could leave you with yearly and in some cases, monthly jobs you could do without. Choose evergreen plants and take into consideration their eventual sizes. Try to choose shrubs that don’t grow too big so will not require regular pruning. If you choose evergreen plants there will be very little fallen leaves to collect and very little cutting back to do, saving you essential time. Some shrubs such as Vinca ‘Major’ are ground spreading shrubs and help to suppress weeds as well as providing a back drop of green and bright flowers in summer.

Low maintenance shrubs also include (check eventual sizes against intended area before planting any plant)

Other evergreen plants include conifers which range from small low growing varieties such as Juniperus ‘Blue Carpet’ to larger varieties, so choose widely and research the best conifer for your position. Conifers can be useful for creating a low maintenance screen but choose varieties that only grow to around 7ft such as Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ for easy trimming and avoid varieties such as Leylandii that grow very quickly and require regular pruning.

Create a low maintenance lawn

You can create lawn that requires little maintenance and can still be a feature within your garden. Choose hard wearing lawn turf that requires less care and have straight edges as apposed to curved edges which are harder to cut. Think about using lawn edging, this can reduce the need to go around the lawn with edging shears.

Another idea would be to let the grass grow long and not cut it between the months of March and September and maybe just mow narrow path ways through the grass as a feature and sow some wild flower seed over it to give it a splash of colour. This approach would also attract wildlife into the garden. You would then only need to cut it at the start of the season and the end of the season.

Consider artificial grass, with many suppliers now you can get some very good quality artificial grass and although the original outlay can be more expensive it can give you a care free lawn for many years to come.

Use a lawnmower with a wider cut and consider not collecting grass cuttings, by not collecting the grass cutting this adds nutrients back into the lawn and helps feed the lawn removing the need for feeding.

Garden design ideas low maintenance – borders

We talked about planting low maintenance shrubs and conifers but try adding a a mulch or bark or stone onto the borders. Be sure to use ground cover fabric undernath the mulch which helps suppress weeds and keep the soil damp reducing the need for as much watering. There are many types of mulch you could use but the most common are bark chipping and coloured stone, other mulches include rubber chipping and glass chipping which are both very effective.

Consider maybe planting a slower growing hedge rather than a fence which would need painting very year and require maintenance to keep it looking good. Hedges do need clipping but with slower growing hedging plants available this may only need doing once a year.

Things you might NOT want to do to keep your garden as low maintenance as possible.

When creating a low maintenance garden there are a few things you might want to try to avoid unless on your priory list, These include the following:

  • Avoid planting bedding plants such as petunia, lobelia, antirrhinums, marigolds and cosmos as they need regular watering and feeding. They are also seasonal and need planting every Spring. If you have bedding plants on your priority list try doing a little research and go for plants that don’t require as much care and watering and plant bedding such as begonias, busy lizzie and geraniums.
  • Avoid planting lots of tubs and planters as they do require regularly watering and feeding almost daily in summer, if you do opt for some planters try to choose larger planters that will hold the moisture better and plants ideal for dry conditions.
  • Avoid fast growing hedging plants such as Leylandii and Laurels and opt for more slower growing cultivars such as Photinia ‘Red Robin’ and Buxus.
  • Avoid having a pond with expensive fish that require lots of care and filtration systems and opt for more of a bog pond that can be left untreated and attract wildlife.
  • Avoid large areas of decking that require painting yearly.
  • Avoid shrubs that require lots of pruning and perennials that require cleaning up and cutting back in Autumn.

We have posted a few pictures below from around the web to show what a low maintenance garden can look like.


Garden design ideas low maintenance, easy to maintain buxus balls, simple yet effective design

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japanese inspired modern stone garden

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Mulched borders and low maintenance plants

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Gravel and patio design

Image credit: Shropshire Garden Design

low maintenance raised bedImage credit: Shropshire Garden Design

Need garden screening ideas for your low maintenance garden, read of guide on garden screening – Read Now


Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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