7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

If your idea of a relaxing weekend doesn’t involve laborsome hours tending to your backyard to make it look picture-perfect, then keep reading on. For the busy homeowners looking for any trick in the book to help make their time gardening quicker and easier, do we have some time-saving tips for you!

Below are 7 tips that will have you working smarter, not harder so that you can spend less time tending to your backyard and more valuable time with your friends and family enjoying it!

1. Build Rock Gardens

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

Here at The Patio Company, we adore a good rock garden and believe it is well worth investing in some hardscape landscaping for your backyard. Rock gardens are perfect for a low-maintenance backyard simply because they require no maintenance at all. 

Include natural rocks or boulders found on your property in your landscape design for a brilliant, rustic look. Alternatively, we can offer our stone masonry services as we have experience working with a wide selection of new and reclaimed granite stones and boulders to create your desired rock gardens. Our ability to source natural stone allows us to offer stone materials that fit your taste and your budget. Rustic or modern—we can work together to figure out what works best for you and your property. 

2. Replace Organic Mulch with Rocks

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

Replacing organic mulch with pea gravel or river rocks is the ultimate game-changing hack for a low maintenance landscape. Organic mulch, typically made of wood chips, does require seasonal restocking to avoid mold and disintegration. Birds also love wood chips. They’ll flick it everywhere looking for bugs and prey and disrupt the aesthetic of your perfect garden bed. For some, the attraction of wildlife is welcomed; however, we know that’s not for everyone. So that’s where rock mulch comes in!

A 2-inch layer of smaller rocks underneath a 4-inch layer of slightly larger rocks will make for the perfect rock mulch. The rocks don’t need to be replaced each year, unlike organic mulch, and will make for an elegant alternative to a typical soil garden bed. 

3. Recycle Fallen Leaves for Mulch

If rock mulch isn’t for you, that’s okay! Here is another tip for speeding up the mulch process. 

Come fall, you will have an abundance of fallen leaves to take care of in your backyard. Our advice is to simply use your lawn mower to mulch the fallen leaves before they get wet with rain from the winter. The mulched leaves will create a superfood for your backyard and help with water retention to keep your lawn looking well-fed and vibrant. 

Be careful! Be sure to only leave approximately a 1-inch layer of mulched leaves on the lawn. Use any excess in your garden beds. 

4. Stones and Pavers for Outdoor Living Areas

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design 7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

If you want to get rid of the hassle of maintaining your grass altogether, opt for functional hardscaping like a patio or a courtyard. Pathways, made with either geometrical concrete pavers, sandstone or carefully chosen red bricks, make for a luxurious, resort-like experience for your patio. 

Pavers can also help alleviate the pressure of trying to keep up with regular mowing, and the seasonal grass maintenance that’s required.

By opting for the use of pavers to create a patio, you’ll effortlessly have gorgeous backyard landscaping and even create the perfect base for outdoor entertainment such as a hot tub, an outdoor bar, or an outdoor fireplace. Paved outdoor entertainment areas mean more fun and less gardening for you. No grass landscaping, less watering, less hassle!

Of course, landscaping without grass does run the risk of looking overly constructed, so be sure to consider ways to break up the tones and textures with some colorful planters, greenery, garden beds, and more.

5. No Maintenance Artificial Grass  

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

Artificial grass, also known as ‘Artificial turf’ or ‘AstroTurf’, is a great alternative to natural grass. It can relieve maintenance-related pressure as it doesn’t require watering, mowing, or fertilizing. It is a fabulous addition to your list of low-maintenance backyard designs that can be kid- and pet-friendly. 

Above is an example of one of our projects, Proctor St, where we used 900 square feet of “Summer Rye” turf. 

Our Whittemore project also used an artificial turf and we love the outcome around the stairs, the pool, and patio.

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design 7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design 7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

Some extra tips when it comes to artificial grass:

1. Any grass option that has a rubber backing is essential for longevity–especially for places with high foot traffic. Drainage holes also make for a great low-maintenance pet-friendly backyard design option as they help drain away any pet urine and are easy to clean.

2. When searching for grass that looks real and stays that way months down the track, opt for a brand that is made for moderate foot traffic and UV-resistant—perfect for those warm summer afternoons running around the backyard with your family. A grass that has a fake thatch that has been carefully woven into the design can help boost authenticity and create a more natural, realistic look. 

6. Plant Native to You

7 Time-Saving Tips for Low Maintenance Backyard Design

For a low-maintenance garden, one of the best tips we can give you is to look for native plants in your specific area. Choosing native plants that have survived in the area for a long time will give your backyard the best chance of survival. As a result, they typically need less maintenance than a foreign plant (which will save you from some big water bills!) but will also help conserve your local biodiversity. 

Native Grasses: Native grasses often need little to no water as they are used to the conditions of their native area. So, naturally, there are the perfect low maintenance landscaping plants. Appalachian sedge (Carex Appalachica) is a great option as it is native to North-Eastern America and grows well in hardiness zones 4-8—perfect for those on the coast of Massachusetts!

Ornamental Grasses: Whilst being easy to maintain, ornamental grasses also bring subtle movement into your garden as they blow in the wind. Plant conservation organization, Native Plant Trust (n.d.), lists ornamental grasses like Pensylvania sedge (carex pensylvanica) as great low-maintenance landscape plants. They’re a simple yet textural option for your backyard and are a very popular choice for a low-maintenance lawn. 

Native Perennial Flowers: For a low maintenance perennial garden design, plant flowers and low maintenance landscape plants that are native to your area. By doing so, you are helping conserve biodiversity whilst also supporting local pollinators such as hummingbirds, beads, and butterflies—all of which work to keep our fragile ecosystem functioning properly! Some examples of native flowers to add to your low maintenance flower beds are listed below:

  • Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a terrestrial flower that blooms with light blue, purple, or white flower petals. 
  • Goat’s beard (Aruncus dioicus) has one leaf per node along the stem of the flower and blooms an elegant white pearl color. 
  • Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a terrestrial flower that blooms vibrant shades of orange, yellow, and pink to red.

7. Install Irrigation Systems with Moisture Sensors 

Automated sprinkler systems are a great low-maintenance yard idea and timed sprinklers in particular may be what you’re looking for if you’re not the type of person who loves to sweat it out in the summer sun while holding a water hose. 

We should note here though that Irrigation systems aren’t just handy for the summer months, they work in conjunction with moisture sensors so that whenever your backyard is looking thirsty (yes, even in a dry winter), the sensors can switch on and your beautiful garden can get just the right amount of water needed to grow and thrive all year long. 

There are pros and cons to everything of course—irrigation systems included. Below we have listed some facts on either side to help you decide what method is best for you and your property. 

Pros: cost-effective, promotes water conservation, prevents weeds from sprouting, time-saver, improves plant growth, preserves soil nutrients.

Cons: you may see uneven watering if positioned on a slanted hill, sensitive to wind which may cause evaporation issues and losses, and debris and sediments from low-quality water can cause clogging of the sprinklers (Stauffer & Spuhler, 2012c). 

There are many tips and tricks out there to help you save time maintaining your lawn so you can spend more time enjoying it—we’ve just gone through 7 of our all-time favorites! 

If you need some assistance designing a low-maintenance backyard or simply want some low maintenance yards ideas, contact us so we can begin the journey of improving your backyard design to help you spend less time working on it, and more time relaxing in it!


Stauffer & Spuhler (2012c). Integrated Water Resource Management – from traditional knowledge to modern techniques. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from https://www.geo.fu-berlin.de/en/v/iwrm/Implementation/technical_measures/Irrigation-systems/sprinkler/applicability_advantages_disadvantages/index.html

Native Plant Trust. (n.d.). Ornamental-Grass from New England Wild Flower Society. Native Plant Trust plant finder. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from https://plantfinder.nativeplanttrust.org/cat/Ornamental-Grass

The Patio Company. (2022). Gloucester Landscape Design. The Patio Company MA. Retrieved May 6, 2024, from https://thepatiocompanyma.com/

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