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Posted by Todd Thomasson on Jun 1, 2020 1:25:50 PM

walkway-planting-shrubs-trees-3Whether you have your property cared for by a professional or not, chances are, you want plants that look great and perform well without a tremendous amount of upkeep. You don’t want to choose plants that need an overwhelming amount of care and that will struggle in your landscape unless perfectly maintained.

Since we understand that everyone’s definition of “low maintenance” may differ, let us first define what we mean for the purposes of this article before going any further. 

We’re talking about plants that won’t require a lot of tending to. That means they don’t require lots of trimming, are drought-tolerant, and are not prone to disease or pest problems. They are plants that generally perform well in the local climate for Ashburn, Aldie, and Leesburg, VA.

It’s important to understand that there is no such thing as “maintenance free.” All plants need at least some basic care. But if you’re looking for choices that meet the definition above, then you’re in luck. 

We’ve rounded up a list of low maintenance trees, shrubs, and plants to help you make the best selection for your property.

Low Maintenance Trees

Trees that require minimal maintenance are those that are relatively pest- and disease-resistant, that do not require a tremendous amount of upkeep (such as constant pruning), and that generally just perform really well in our area. If you’re looking for some trees that aren’t going to give you a lot of headaches, these are some to consider.

1. Colorado Blue Spruce

Known for its blue/green foliage, the Colorado Blue Spruce is a low-maintenance tree that will reach somewhere between 60 to 100 feet tall. Known for its hardiness and adaptability, the Colorado Blue Spruce thrives in full sun but also grows in partial shade. It is also drought tolerant.

colorado blue spruce tree

2. Cryptomeria

This tall tree requires little to no maintenance and makes a lovely foreground, foundation, or hedge planting. A beautiful evergreen, it holds its color year-round. Known for its unique, broad, pyramid shape, Cryptomeria belongs to the cypress family. Though its leaves appear prickly, it’s actually quite soft.

cryptomeria trees

3. American Holly

This tree is generally thought of as “easy-to-care-for” in that it doesn’t need much extra assistance. It’s thought to be fast-growing and easily adaptable to varying soil types. It also has the added benefit of being resistant to deer damage.

american holly trees

Low Maintenance Shrubs

When it comes to shrubs that are low maintenance, we’re looking at varieties that are not going to need a lot of extra care and attention in order to perform their best. These are plants that are naturally resistant to diseases and pests and that perform well overall in our climate and soil. 

Here are a few that you might want to consider.

4. Nandina

Nandina or “Heavenly Bamboo,” is an evergreen or semi-evergreen broadleaf shrub that is well-known for being drought-tolerant and easy to take care of. It’s tough and durable and can grow anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall. Once established, it requires very little maintenance.

Nandina plant

5. Boxwood

Boxwood is a great performer without a tremendous amount of care. It’s shade tolerant and provides year-round greenery. This shrub is appreciated for its hardiness. It’s a compact and often used in front yard landscape designs. It’s one of those shrubs that works well for virtually all landscape types.

boxwood shrub

6. Hydrangea

Hydrangea shrubs produce gorgeous blooms but are quite versatile and easy to grow. They have a big pay off for very minimal effort. There are many varieties of hydrangea but one that is said to be easier to care for is Oakleaf. That’s because Oakleaf Hydrangea can tolerate a wider variety of climatic conditions including cold weather. It is also drought tolerant.

Ooakleaf hydrangea

Low Maintenance Plants

Choosing low maintenance plants can go a long way in adding interest to your landscape without adding a lot of extra work. We’ve rounded up a list of some of the plants that we like to use in landscapes, which will not need a tremendous amount of upkeep.

7. Liriope

This simple plant is a low maintenance, groundcover that is sometimes called “lilyturf” or “monkey grass.” It’s a tough, perennial that works in those hard-to-plant areas. That’s because it can thrive in the full sun but still works in deep shade, too. It’s also drought-tolerant. Liriope has wide, dark green and grass-like foliage and it produces spiky white or purple flowers in late summer.

liriope around walkway

8. Astilbe

Astilbe is also known as False Spiraea or Meadowsweet. It’s a low maintenance plant that is appreciated for being naturally resistant to potential problems. Astilbe is a perennial with beautiful flowers and fern-like foliage. 

astilbe flowers

9. Catmint

The gray/green foliage and clusters of these lavender flowers add a lot of color and beauty to a landscape, without adding a lot of work. It’s an extremely hardy plant that is suitable for a wide range of climatic conditions. Catmint is largely self-sufficient and lacks problems with pests and diseases.

Catmint plant

10. Hosta

These plants are a perennial favorite, valued for their lush foliage and their simple care. They are generally considered a shade-tolerant plant, though there are different varieties with differing needs. Hostas are easy-to-grow.

Hosta plant

11. Purple Coneflower

This native plant flowers easily and doesn’t require much care. The Purple Coneflower is adaptable to a variety of conditions. Though they prefer sun, they’ll tolerate shade as well. They are also known to be tolerant of poor soil conditions, though like any plants, they’ll perform their best in healthy soil.

purple coneflower

12. Salvia

This plant comes from the largest genus in the mint family. Perennial Salvias are easy to grow and perform well in the local climate. They produce tall spires of lavender-blue flowers beginning in the summer and continuing into fall.

salvia plant

Working with a Pro vs. DIY Low Maintenance Landscaping 

Now that you have an idea of some of the plant material you could use, you might be considering a DIY landscaping approach.

It’s true that any of these trees, shrubs, or plants could make a good choice in a low maintenance landscape. Of course, it’s important to mention that meeting any plants’ basic needs and planting them where they will perform their best is the key to keeping them easy-to-care-for. With improper installation, you can actually take low maintenance plants and make them high maintenance simply because they weren’t planted right (or in the right place). 

Simple mistakes, such as planting low maintenance, shade-loving plant material in a sunny area, can ultimately cause major problems.

This is why it’s beneficial to work with a professional.

On top of knowing how and where to install plant materials, a professional landscaper will also bring an “eye for design” to the landscape installation. After all, knowing which plants to choose is important but arranging them in a meaningful way is also critical.  If you just randomly choose some of the plants on this list but don’t install them in an 

It’s also worth mentioning that while we’ve rounded up a list of a dozen of our favorite low maintenance plants, there are many more beyond this list. Not all of these plants will work for every property, but there might be others that will (which we haven’t listed). This list will hopefully give you a good sense of some of your options, but it certainly isn’t all-encompassing.

Working with Rock Water Farm for a Beautiful but Low Maintenance Landscape

Landscape plants maintained by Rock Water FarmA low maintenance landscape can be a valuable addition that can save you money and headaches. After all, even if you hire a landscape professional to maintain your property, you don’t want plants that need constant attention. That would mean you might have to care for them in between your landscapers’ visits or that you’d have to pay your landscape professional to come more often.

At Rock Water Farm, we have worked with many clients who were looking for a beautiful but low maintenance landscape with trees, shrubs, and plants that would not end up requiring a tremendous amount of care. We have lots of ideas for low maintenance plants (such as the ones we’ve mentioned in this article, but others as well) and can help find just the right selections that will work best on your property. 

In the end, your choice in working with a landscape professional for your low maintenance landscape can be the difference between the results you’re after or something that falls short of your expectations.

If you’re ready to talk more about your Ashburn, Aldie, or Leesburg, VA low maintenance landscape project, schedule a free consultation, or give us a call at 703-327-1636.

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Image sources: colorado blue spruce, cryptomeria, american holly, nandina, boxwood, oakleaf hydrangea, astilbe, catmint, hosta, purple coneflower, salvia   

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About The Author

Todd Thomasson
Todd Thomasson

Todd Thomasson, founded Rock Water Farm Landscapes & Hardscapes in 2005. Having grown up with hard working parent role models and a strong work ethic, Todd put his Landscape & Turf Management degree from Virginia Tech into action as the lead stone mason and landscape designer for the new company. Over the years, the responsibility and opportunity of running this company has been shared with other members of the Rock Water Farm team, launching one of the leading property maintenance companies in Loudoun County. Todd is still rooted in his passion for design/build projects and continues to run the company, working with clients to design, build and maintain perfect outdoor spaces with his team.