For locals, Sin City is a lot more than just partying on the Strip. There’s real work to be done here, including lawn and landscape care — which can be a struggle when it’s over 100 degrees outside. If you want to spend less time working in the yard and more time living it up like a tourist, try some of our low-maintenance landscaping ideas for Las Vegas.
Low-maintenance landscaping means less lawn mowing, fertilizing, weeding, and pest control. Most importantly for drought-ridden Southern Nevada, it also means using less water for grass and plants. While you benefit from a low-effort, high-reward landscape, you’ll also do your part to conserve water and benefit the greater community and future generations.
- 1. Xeriscaping your yard
- 2. Desert-friendly succulents
- 3. Nevada’s native plants
- 4. Hardscapes over high-maintenance plants
- 5. Ground covers instead of grass
- 6. No-maintenance artificial turf
- 7. Mulch for your plant beds
- 8. Perennials: Plant one, and you’re done
- Professional help for your low-maintenance Las Vegas landscape
1. Xeriscaping your yard
Have you heard of xeriscaping? It’s all the rage in the American West’s dry desert climate, so you’re probably familiar with the concept if you’ve lived in the Las Vegas Valley for long. In case you haven’t heard, xeriscaping means designing your landscape so it needs little to no watering outside of natural rainfall.
How do you turn your thirsty landscape into a xeriscape? Here are some basic steps you can take:
- Learn to hydrozone (put plants with the same water requirements together)
- Help your soil retain moisture with organic matter and mulch
- Use as little turfgrass as possible, or at least choose a drought-tolerant grass type
- Plant only drought-resistant plants
- If you must use an irrigation system, install an efficient one, such as drip irrigation or sprinklers with a rain sensor
- Take up outdoor space with decorative rocks, pavers, and other hardscapes
Transforming your entire landscape into a xeriscape might be a bigger project than you’re ready for. If that’s the case, start small. Maybe replace one flower bed with succulents or a decorative rock garden. You can build from there in baby steps. Eventually, your landscape won’t need water anymore.
Advantages of xeriscaping:
- Saves time on watering your lawn and garden
- Reduces your water bill
- Conserves precious water resources
Estimated cost: According to Native Land Design, it costs about $1.50-$2.50 per square foot to convert a traditional landscape to a xeriscape, but xeriscaping saves you about 36 cents per square foot every year in maintenance costs.
2. Desert-friendly succulents
No desert landscape is complete without a cactus! But even if you’re not a fan of these classic, spiky plants, there are many other low-maintenance succulents you can include in your yard.
Succulents are plants that have adapted to life in dry, arid places like Vegas by developing the ability to store water in their thick leaves. Not only do succulents not need you to water them, but they actually don’t want you to. Succulents hate wet soil, and they’re far more likely to die from overwatering than underwatering.
More good news: Succulents come in a HUGE variety of shapes and sizes, from the rosette leaves of Echeveria varieties to the all-too-familiar shape of cacti.
Advantages of succulents:
- Survive long periods of drought with no water
- Thrive naturally in Las Vegas climate
- Many varieties to choose from
Estimated cost: The price depends on the size and type of succulent and ranges from $5 to more than $100 per plant (based on pricing from Lowe’s).
3. Nevada’s native plants
The most low-maintenance plants you can include in your landscape are plants native to the Las Vegas area. Since these plants manage to thrive in the local climate in nature, they can also thrive in your garden with little help from you.
There are many Southern Nevada native plants for you to choose from, but here are just a few examples:
- Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)
- Desert bluebell (Phacelia campanularia)
- Desert holly (Atriplex hymenelytra)
- Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
- Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
To receive the full benefits of native plants, make sure you select plants native to your specific area, not just Nevada. For example, plants native to the northern half of the state won’t necessarily do well or be easy to take care of in Vegas.
Advantages of native plants:
- Grow and thrive naturally in Vegas climate
- Use less water than non-natives
- Require less fertilizer than non-natives
- Rarely need pesticides
- Provide shelter, nectar, and food for local wildlife such as birds and pollinators
- Help to preserve local natural ecosystems
Estimated cost: How much you spend on each plant depends on the exact type and the size, but ballpark prices are $600-$3,000 for a new flower bed, $25-$50 per new shrub, or $150-$3,000 per new tree.
4. Hardscapes over high-maintenance plants
The fewer plants you have to maintain, the less time you’ll spend working in the garden. But that doesn’t mean you have to have an empty landscape with no visual interest. Instead of plants, consider installing hardscapes.
Hardscapes are any features in your landscape that aren’t living things. Some hardscapes you can use to fill space and boost curb appeal are:
- Decorative boulders
- Stone pavers
- Garden walkways
- Fire pits
- Rock gardens
Unlike grass and plants, hardscapes don’t need watering, weeding, mowing, pruning, or any other maintenance aside from occasional cleaning. Beware that hardscapes can be expensive to install, but they’ll save you time and money on maintenance in the long run.
Advantages of hardscapes:
- Only maintenance is occasional cleaning
- Save on water usage
- Many hardscapes increase home value
Estimated cost: Expect to spend approximately $2,000-$6,000 for a new patio, $4,000-$11,000 for a new deck, $500-$3,000 for a new fire pit, or $2,000-$9,000 for a new pergola. Stone paver projects cost about $8-$22 per square foot to install, depending on the type of stone.
5. Ground covers instead of grass
Want a thick, green carpet of a lawn without all the work that goes into it? Consider replacing your traditional turfgrass with a low-maintenance ground cover. Ground covers are plants that grow low (usually only a few inches tall) and spread quickly to fill space and form a “lawn.”
Ground covers are still living plants, so they still need water and the proper amount of sunlight, and they may require fertilizers or pest control at some point to grow their best. But they’re still a lot less work than turfgrass.
These are drought- and heat-tolerant ground covers that should do well in Las Vegas:
- Carpet sedum (Sedum lineare)
- Amethyst in snow (Centaurea montana)
- Blue catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)
- Creeping thyme (Thymus spp.)
Advantages of ground covers:
- No lawn mowing required
- Fewer weeds and pests than traditional lawns
- Use less water than turfgrass
- Many ground covers thrive without fertilizer
Estimated cost: According to landscaping company HighGrove, replacing turfgrass with ground cover can cost from $3.50-$12.50 per square foot. The type of ground cover plant will affect your cost. If you need your existing grass removed first, expect to spend more.
6. No-maintenance artificial turf
If ground cover still sounds like too much work for you, go a step further and install artificial turf. Artificial turf comes in many styles designed to look like different grass types, and some of them are so advanced these days that your neighbors would never be able to tell they aren’t real grass.
The good thing about artificial grass is that it takes virtually no maintenance at all, but it also comes with downsides. For one, it’s expensive to install. For another, it can ruin the soil underneath and have negative effects on the local environment. However, studies have shown the environmental impact of artificial turf is no greater than that of a traditional lawn.
Advantages of artificial turf:
- No maintenance other than occasional cleaning
- Doesn’t house pests
- Saves on water usage
Estimated cost: Depending on the type of artificial turf and the shape of your yard, professional installation can cost anywhere from $5-$20 per square foot.
7. Mulch for your plant beds
Mulch is a loose material that suppresses weeds and helps plants retain water when you spread it on the ground in your plant beds, on top of the plants’ roots. Covering your plant beds with mulch is an easy, inexpensive job you can do yourself, and the payoff is huge.
There are many different types of mulch, some organic and some inorganic. Inorganic mulches such as rubber nuggets and gravel are the least maintenance because they last a long time and don’t need to be replaced. Organic mulches such as wood chips and pine straw need to be replaced each year because they break down over time, adding nutrients to the soil.
Advantages of mulch:
- Significantly reduces weeds in plant beds
- Helps the soil hold water longer so you don’t have to water plants as often
- Aesthetically pleasing for your landscape
Estimated cost: Wood mulch usually runs for about $3-$5 per 2-cubic-foot bag. Rubber mulch costs about $7-$10 per 0.8-cubic-foot bag. Landscape gravel ranges a lot in price depending on the type of stone, from $4-$30 per 0.5-cubic-foot bag. If you need a lot of mulch, you can buy in bulk to save money. (Pricing based on products at Lowe’s and Home Depot).
8. Perennials: Plant one, and you’re done
Many of the beautiful flowers you see at the garden supply store or nursery are annuals. That means they’ll look great for the rest of this growing season, but they’ll die in winter. You’ll have to replace them after one year if you want to keep your landscape full of flowers.
Not so with perennials. Perennial plants survive through winter and bloom year after year. Some may only last a few years, while others stay in your landscape for decades. If you don’t want to buy and replant new flowers annually, seek out varieties labeled as perennial.
Some of the best heat-tolerant perennials for Las Vegas are:
- Golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)
- Desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
- Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata)
- Perky sue (Tetraneuris acaulis)
- Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)
Advantages of perennials:
- Bloom yearly
- Some will last for decades without replacement
Estimated cost: The cost will vary significantly depending on the types of perennials you choose, where you buy them, and whether you plant them yourself or hire a professional landscaper to install a flower bed for you. If you purchase and plant the flowers yourself, expect to spend about $10-$60 per plant.
Professional help for your low-maintenance Las Vegas landscape
After you implement low-maintenance landscaping tips like the ones described here, you’ll spend less time working in your yard and more time doing what you love.
But in the Mojave Desert in summer, even five minutes outside can feel like a lifetime. Instead of working on the lawn and garden yourself, hire one of Lawn Love’s local pros to do the mowing, gardening, and sweating for you.