7 Charming Alabama Landscaping Ideas

Landscaped path in Alabama

We’ve compiled seven charming Alabama landscaping ideas that could be perfect for your home. After a day at Bankhead National Forest, you may want to keep rolling with the vibe that the beautiful trees and serene lakes give you. While you may not be able to recreate scenery so striking, you can build a smaller version in your own yard that is appealing and functional. 

1. Perennials and annuals

Close-up of eastern purple coneflower
Photo Credit: Chris Light | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Annuals come in many different colors, shapes, and textures that you can change out annually. Perennials come in different looks, too, but you have the added benefit of plants that reseed for multiple seasons. Because each plant type has its benefits, including both in your garden design gives you the best of both worlds. 

If you prefer a low-maintenance garden overall, you can plant mostly perennials, then use annuals to fill in bare spots so those spots remain full of color and texture longer.

Here are some good perennials for Alabama to get you started:

  • Wavyleaf purple coneflower
  • Eastern purple coneflower
  • Green-and-gold
  • Yellow honeysuckle
  • Butterfly weed

And check out these annuals:

  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Johnny jump-up
  • African marigold 
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Mexican heather

Let’s look at the advantages of including both perennials and annuals in your flower bed.

Advantages of perennialsAdvantages of annuals
Planted once: Once you plant perennials, you save the cost and effort of replanting annually because they blossom without replanting for multiple seasons. 

Low-maintenance: Perennials require dividing to encourage healthy growth and flowering. But overall, they usually need less maintenance than annuals. After watering perennials daily for the first two weeks to establish them, they only need watering one to two times weekly. You save time and money because most perennials do not need fertilizer and blossom more flowers when unfertilized. Most perennials thrive when they receive sunshine and are planted in well-drained soil.

Blooming habits: Perennials usually bloom for a shorter time than annuals and only for a specific season, either fall, spring, or summer. But you can plant multiple varieties that have different blooming times (such as late-season perennials) to have colorful blossoms in every season.

Hardiness: Perennials tolerate more harsh weather conditions than annuals, like cold weather and droughts. 

Cost: Perennials cost more initially, but you save money because you do not have to replant every year. The hardiness of perennials is another cost-saver, as you are less likely to need to replace or care for damaged plants.

Great for soil: Perennials have deep root systems that help develop healthy soil and prevent erosion. 
Versatility: Annuals last one season and must be replanted. This allows you to change your mind. If you don’t like what your garden bed looks like, just wait for the blooming season to end and plant new annuals next year.

Longer blooms: They usually bloom for longer periods of time than perennials – sometimes blossoming throughout their entire blooming season. Since perennials only bloom for about two to eight weeks, you can plant annuals next to perennials so that your garden continues to be colorful.

Cost: They typically cost less than perennials, although they have the added cost of needing to be replaced yearly. 

Variety and flexibility: They come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Annuals have been bred to produce vivid and bright colors. You can change your garden design every year, implementing a completely different color scheme if you desire.

Estimated cost: Most people spend between $650 and $3,000 for professional flower bed installation, depending on plant type and size and the number of plants. The cost is at the lower end when homeowners include perennials and plants that are low-maintenance or native (such as our list of the best low-maintenance plants for Alabama). It costs between $10 to $100 per plant to start a flower bed DIY. A package of seeds typically costs less than $2.

2. Native plants  

Photo Credit: Stephanie D. Dudek | Canva Pro | License

Show your Alabama pride by surrounding the outside of your home with native plants. Whether they’re annuals or perennials, ground covers, wildflowers, or vines, you can design your Alabama landscape to scream, “Let’s go, Bama!”

The following native plants will help your Alabama landscape pop. For more options, check out our article all about Alabama native plants.

  • Flowering dogwood
  • Piedmont azalea
  • Oakleaf hydrangea
  • Southern magnolia
  • Pussytoes

Native plants are not only beautiful; they can make your life easier and be good for the environment. Here are some advantages of using native plants:

  • Low-maintenance: Most native plants reduce your maintenance chores because they have adapted to Alabama’s climate. Native plants need less watering and fertilizing. They are also more resistant to local pests and diseases, so native flora require fewer harmful control methods, like pesticides and herbicides.
  • Fewer chemicals in the water supply: Because native plants require fewer chemical treatments, if any, fewer harmful substances run into and pollute the water supply.
  • Support biodiversity and the ecosystem: Native plants are food and habitat for local insects, birds, butterflies, other pollinators, and wildlife.

Estimated cost: Native plants are priced depending on their type, size, and where they’re purchased. Professional tree and bush planting costs between $25 to $3,000 per tree or bush. Vines typically cost between $5 to $50 per vine.

3. Mulch it up  

pine straw mulch
Photo Credit: PxHere | License

There are many different types of mulch that come in a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. Mulch combines well with other landscaping features, or it can make a statement on its own. 

Make it the focal point of your garden by using brightly colored stones or rocks, or color coordinate your landscape with each section a different color. Use a variety of organic mulch or inorganic mulch to create your own unique, textured, plantless garden bed.

Mulch is a good idea for more than its aesthetic value. It is also a smart move because it reduces water evaporation by protecting the soil from direct sunlight and suppresses weeds. 

Mulch is also functional because it prevents erosion. You can terrace a sloped yard and add mulch for decoration and erosion prevention. Terracing a sloped yard slows runoff by allowing the water time to be absorbed. If you want to prevent erosion but not spend money on terracing, use the mulch alone. 

These organic mulch materials can add earth-toned texture to your yard:

  • Pine needles
  • Grass clippings
  • Pine straw
  • Bark
  • Wood chips
  • Leaves
  • Compost
  • Rotted manure

Here are a few inorganic mulch options to give you some jazzy design ideas: 

  • Rocks
  • Stone
  • Rubber
  • Crushed seashell
  • Plastic
  • Gravel

Estimated cost: The price of mulch depends on the type used and the amount. It typically costs between $3 to $7 a bag. Mulch costs about $45 to $130 per cubic yard. Many homeowners pay an average of $85 per cubic yard.

4. Sustainable hardscape 

a picture of fireplace with chairs and talbes nearby
Photo Credit: Bill Wilson | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Hardscaping is a way to keep your front yard and backyard charming year-round. Non-living, man-made features are called hardscapes. These structures can be more costly initially, but they take less regular maintenance and provide year-round use. Hardscapes also add curb appeal and increase property value. 

While some features may work best in the backyard, others work well in all areas of your property. Likewise, you can use the same types of hardscapes and adjust the scale or details so that they fit the specific outdoor space. For example, a small fountain may work best in the front yard, while a water feature like a water wall would be spectacular in the backyard.

Features like patios with outdoor fireplaces or kitchens allow you to extend your living space and enjoy it in every season. Alabama can experience some cold spells during the winter, especially in Northern Alabama. Let an outdoor fireplace heat you up while Jack Frost nips on somebody else’s nose.

Here are some other hardscaping ideas:

  • Walkways
  • Built-in seating
  • Gazebos
  • Retaining walls
  • Pergolas
  • Lighting features

Advantages of hardscaping include:

  • Provides years of durable, low-maintenance aesthetic value and functionality.
  • Reduces or eliminates gardening and lawn care maintenance, like watering, mowing, fertilization, and weeding. This, in turn, conserves water and can save costs in the long run.
  • Creates functional outdoor spaces and extends the living space.
  • Withstands harsh weather conditions.
  • Adds curb appeal and can increase property value.

Estimated cost: Most homeowners spend between $3,300 to $13,200 per project for professional hardscaping, depending on the type of project. Hardscaping typically costs between $4.50 and $17 per square foot. Labor and materials for lighting are typically between $100 and $250 per light. A retaining wall is one of the most expensive landscaping projects, costing between $3,600 and $9,500.

5. Xeriscaping 

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Xeriscaping is not only uniquely charming, but, like other design ideas we’ve already discussed, it provides functionality. This type of landscaping design uses drought-tolerant plants and other water-wise materials to conserve water. Xeriscaping includes replacing grass with things like drought-resistant ground cover or mulch. Succulents, native plants, and other plants that need little water create a diverse and interesting display. 

Create a water-wise landscaping design with these ideas:

  • Plant succulent plants like sedum, aloe vera, and showy stonecrop.
  • Use drought-tolerant plants that are in Alabama’s USDA hardiness zone, such as the largeflower tickseed and wild bergamot.
  • Replace grass with rock gardens and mulch that add texture and color.
  • Mix and match ideas. A garden with perennials widely spaced and filled in with mulch, rocks on one side, woodchips on another, and a birdhouse placed as the focal point could be quite the conversation piece, for example. 

The advantages of xeriscaping include:

  • Conserves water, which can also reduce the water bill
  • Decreases soil erosion and run-off
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for toxic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers
  • Reduces or eliminates maintenance tasks like pruning and mowing

Estimated cost: Expect to pay between $5 to $20 per square foot for professional xeriscaping installation, depending on materials, type of feature, and the size of your yard. Xeriscaping a 1,200-square-foot yard typically costs between $11,600 to $20,000.

6. Ground cover 

Photo Credit: letty17 | Canva Pro | License

Maybe you’re not ready to replace grass with mulch because you’d like to keep your yard grassy looking, or maybe you just like the idea of greenery on the ground. Ground cover is your go-to. It comes in many varieties. You can find some that have a grass look for a traditional lawn alternative, or, for something more unique and visually striking, you can plant a flowering ground cover

And, of course, we love to pair charm with functionality. (I’m sure by now you’ve noticed this recurring theme). Replacing grass with ground cover reduces the time spent out in the yard. Low-maintenance ground cover decreases or removes the need for lawn care tasks like mowing, fertilizing, and watering.

Check out these ground cover options for Alabama:

  • Monkey grass (Liriope muscari)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
  • Dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)
  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Mix and match these and other ground cover plants to make your landscape your own!

The benefits of ground cover include:

  • Spreads quickly to cover a wide area
  • Conserves water compared to turfgrass
  • Low-maintenance
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Prevents erosion
  • Needs minimal to no fertilizer
  • Requires no mowing
  • Some options, like liriope, are drought, heat, and high-traffic tolerant.

Even if you’re not ready to replace your traditional lawn, you can have a more water-wise landscape by choosing the right type of grass for your area. The best grass types for Alabama include Zoysia, Bermuda, Bahia, centipede, and St. Augustine. Warm-season grasses like these typically need less water in summer than cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fescues, and perennial ryegrass.

Estimated cost: Ground cover plant prices depend on the plant type, size, how they’re sold, and purchase location. Plant trays cost about $10. A container plant costs about $40. Plant seeds range between $4 and $400 depending on the number of seeds.

7. Raised gardens and container gardens

raised garden bed made of concrete brick
Photo Credit: virginijavaidakaviciene | Canva Pro | License

What if you could add charm to your yard that also allows you to meet one of your greatest basic daily needs? Add raised gardens and container gardens to your yard and enjoy the aesthetic and nutritional value they’ll provide. You can grow flowers, food, or both in your garden beds. We love to eat, so we’re leaning towards food!

Build your own raised garden bed by purchasing untreated lumber at your local home improvement store. Container garden vessels of different sizes, colors, shapes, and materials can also be purchased. Do your research to make sure you are using lumber and containers that are safe for food growth. Chemically treated lumber and some containers are not safe for food because they can leach dangerous chemicals. These types of containers can be used to showcase non-edible plants instead. 

Now that we’ve piqued your curiosity, here are some raised garden bed design ideas:

  • Make DIY raised garden beds by using pieces of wood as a base to attach two trellises for a triangular-shaped garden bed. Create a few of them. Use plants like vines that will wrap around the trellis as the vines grow.
  • Install shelves on your fence and place decorative containers filled with herbs or veggies on the shelves.
  • Build a multi-tiered raised garden bed using cinder blocks or concrete blocks. Place a recycling water feature near or inside it. Cinder blocks are great because you can use the holes to grow shallow-rooted herbs and veggies and the center of the bed to grow crops that need more soil depth to grow.
  • Strategically place a wheelbarrow and some whiskey or wine half-barrels filled with plants around your yard.

Here are some advantages of raised garden beds and container gardening:

  • Allow you to grow crops in a decorative and aesthetic landscape design
  • Control weeds
  • Make gardening more accessible because you do not have to bend and kneel
  • Can be used to decorate smaller properties because smaller containers and portable beds can be used. Fabric containers and other vessels can be placed on patios, balconies, or small stoops
  • When combined with other plants, garden beds and containers enhance the vegetation by creating a more defined and eye-catching focal point.

Estimated cost: Costs for raised garden beds and containers vary widely since there are so many different materials these vessels can be made of and various sizes. In general, raised garden bed kits range between $105 and $210. Most homeowners pay an average of $145 for a kit. Cinder blocks cost about $8 per linear foot, while concrete is a little less at about $5 per linear foot.

Some materials are free, like materials you already have. You can collect rocks and stones, recycle an old bookshelf or tires, or use leftover scraps from other projects to build a raised garden.

FAQ about landscaping in Alabama

What are succulents and sedums?

These are water-wise plants. Succulents store water in their plant parts, which allows them to require little watering. They are drought-tolerant. Sedums are a category of succulent, also known as stonecrops. 

What are some other ways to xeriscape your home?

The purpose of xeriscaping is to use less water in your yard. Placing plants with similar watering needs in the same section of your yard makes plant watering more efficient. Another way to help conserve water is to install the appropriate irrigation systems. Drip irrigation systems usually result in using less water than sprinkler irrigation. 

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses deliver water to plant root systems, where plants most need moisture. These watering devices also reduce the water wasted when hard surfaces like sidewalks get watered. 

What plants thrive best in Alabama?

The best plants for your Alabama landscape design will be those that grow well in the state’s climate. Native plants are the best, but non-native plants that are in your area’s USDA hardiness zone are also a viable option. 

The USDA separates areas into zones that differ by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. These hardiness zones indicate the plants that survive an area’s coldest temperatures. Alabama is in zones 7 through 9. Choose plants in your local area’s zone. For example, Birmingham is in zones 7b and 8a, while Mobile is in zones 8b and 9a.

What’s the most inexpensive mulch?

The most inexpensive mulch comes from materials you already have:

  • Collect grass clippings after mowing the lawn. 
  • The longleaf pine is a native tree that sheds its needles. The needles can be used as pine needle mulch. 
  • Rake up those fall leaves and pile them in your flower bed as mulch.

Professional Alabama landscape maintenance

These landscaping ideas allow you to create an aesthetically pleasing yard. Most of these suggestions are also low maintenance, although it depends on the types of plants you choose.

And if you need help keeping your new landscape beautiful, Lawn Love can connect you with local Alabama lawn care and landscaping professionals across the state who can help you implement your new landscaping designs and maintain your lawn with services like mowing, fertilization, and weed control.

Main Photo Credit: 12019 from Pixabay | Canva Pro | License

LaShonda Tucker

LaShonda Tucker’s passion for maintaining a healthy lifestyle through organic herbs, fruits, and veggies leads her to research and learn about plants and insects. She loves sharing her knowledge to help others achieve their lawn care and landscaping goals.