8 Easy Landscaping Hacks (From Someone Who Really Hates Landscaping)

published Jul 14, 2019
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Credit: Léa Jones/Stocksy

Believe it or not, purchasing a home does not mean you automatically become handy or even inclined to do home-related things. I should know: I bought my first house despite having essentially zero home-fixing skills. I knew that becoming a homeowner wouldn’t magically turn me into someone else, and that in order to do a project, I’d have to be very excited about it. Though I’ve garnered enthusiasm for certain tasks, one thing that I still feel forced to do is landscaping. As much as I love having my hands and feet in the dirt and some fresh air, I actually despise feeling like I’m expected to keep my lawn manicured.

Though I really just want to ignore the weeds and towering grasses surrounding my home, the reality is that I have to do something with my yard. Thankfully, I’ve figured out some ways to keep up with my growing yard without having to put in all that much effort. (And knowing that I’m not alone in this, I’ve decided to share!) Here, eight landscaping hacks from me, a person who really does not like landscaping:

1. Learn the basics

At the minimum, do just a little research on your home’s leafy newcomers (or at least just ask the person at the store!). If you know the rules, you can find ways to get around the rules—and also save yourself a ton of time and energy by making more strategic choices. Don’t just plant things that look pretty willy-nilly. If you put sun plants in shady spots or vice versa, you will have done all the work for no reward.

2. Don’t even think about messing around with annuals

Why would you do that to yourself? Unless you want to plan for a total yard do-over each spring, just plant perennials. I promise you the upkeep will keep you busy enough. You’ll already have your hands full with enough else. There’s no reason to add the foolish decision of annuals into the mix if landscaping isn’t one of your favorite activities. 

3. Weeds are (sort of) negotiable

I know this will raise the hackles on many a perfectionist’s spine, but… weeds actually are not from hell. The very definition of a “weed” is in the eye of the beholder—at least in this beholder’s eye. If you can’t just let go and let things grow however they want wherever they want, do what I do: Set aside a few “au natural” sections, add a bit more intentional landscaping elsewhere, and throw in a bit of “hardscaping” (stone, brick, lighting, fountains, etc.) Not only will this look completely fine, it will actually help keep the bees alive! (Besides, they need us to chill out on always trying to give nature a facelift.)

4. Low-maintenance is a godsend

You know why people love succulents and air plants? It’s not just because they’re beautiful. They both happen to be relatively low-maintenance. And they’re not the only chill plants—hostas, daylilies, ornamental grasses, creeping thymes, coneflowers, meadow sages, peppermints, dusty millers, and peonies are just a few (of many!) others. Do yourself a favor and incorporate these plants into your yard (if your climate permits).

5. Go for trees

Trees are a great way to add texture, character, and even fruits(!) to your property. Oh, and they also help fight climate change! And for many trees, all you really have to do is plant them. Feeling extra lazy? Take a page out of my book: Buy them already potted and keep them there for as long as you can get away with it. 

6. Mulch is magic

You know what doesn’t die if you don’t water it or weed regularly? Mulch. Say it with me: “Mulch is my pal.” Good. Now spread it around to make it look like you do things with your lawn even when you don’t. Want to go with an even lower low-maintenance mulch? Check out rubber mulch.

7. Imitate nature

I’ve made a few implications that I enjoy a natural aesthetic. But even if you like a more put-together look, you should still keep in mind how things grow in your area. Yes, I’m talking about those gorgeous native plants. For example, I planted ferns in my front yard. They’re not native to my yard, but they are to the Pacific Northwest. By pulling in more of the PNW landscape, I’ve miraculously made the overgrown grass and weeds look more at home. And even—dare I say it—good.

8. Evergreen shrubs are handy

If perfectly-polished flowers seem intimidating, opt for always-fresh-looking bushes and trees. They’ll add texture to your yard without requiring over-the-top trimming.

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