Does the thought of hours of yard work fill you with a sense of dread? Less work doesn’t mean giving up the backyard of your dreams. These low-maintenance landscaping tips will help you and your Wichita landscape paradise thrive.
1. Choose perennials
When you think about low-maintenance landscaping, you think about things that will last and need little care. Although you might still need to spend this spring planting, you can save yourself the next season by planting perennials this year.
Perennials, annuals, biennials: What do all these categories mean? They refer to how long a plant lives. An annual plant, for example, will bloom spectacularly in the summer and then die in the fall. Biennials are similar, but they take one year to establish themselves and then bloom and die the second year.
Perennials, on the other hand, can come back for years and years. They may be bare in winter, but they’re just dormant and will come back if properly cared for come spring. They do take longer to put down roots (usually two years), but the time saved on planting is well worth the wait.
Half-hardy perennials are most appropriate for USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9 (Wichita is in Zone 6b).
Popular Wichita perennials:
- Creeping phlox
2. Pick the right grass
Homeowners with lawns know taking care of turfgrass can be challenging. Between fighting weeds, fertilizing, mowing, and watering, a green lawn can feel like an uphill battle. The journey is a whole lot easier when you know which grass type will thrive in your yard.
The four best grass types for Wichita are:
- Tall fescue: Best for lawns with shade.
- Buffalograss: A native grass adapted to the Kansas landscape.
- Bermudagrass: Great for sunny lawns.
- Zoysiagrass: Good for high foot traffic and weed prevention.
Once you know which grass is right for your backyard, create a lawn care plan for that turf type.
Tips for keeping your lawn healthy:
- Dethatch one to two times a year, depending on your grass type
- Always water before 10 a.m.
- Keep your sprinkler system maintained
- Keep your mower maintained
- Mow to the recommended height
- Fertilize your lawn twice a year
- Aerate during your lawn’s growing season
3. Stay local with a native garden
Another great way to have a low-maintenance backyard while still maintaining a beautiful landscape is to choose native plants. Why? Native plants have adapted over centuries to grow all on their own in your climate. You might think native plants would look like scraggly weeds, but they come in just as many attractive colors and designs as non-native species.
Benefits of native plants include:
- Attracts pollinators like butterflies, bees, and birds
- Saves money because they need less fertilizer
- Saves time because they need less irrigation and disease control
- Helps the environment by using less water
There are all kinds of native plants to add to your Wichita landscape (over 2,200 species according to the Kansas Native Plant Society), but these are a few ideas to get you started.
- Blue phlox
- False indigo
- Butterfly milkweed
- Cardinal flower
- Purple coneflower
Native shrubs and trees:
- Fringe tree
- Gray dogwood
- Ozark witch hazel
- Maidenhair tree
- Trumpet creeper
- Virginia clematis
- Riverbank grape
- American wisteria
4. Incorporate hardscaping
What’s better than a low-maintenance plant? A landscape feature that requires almost no maintenance at all. How about hardscaping? Hardscaping refers to the nonliving elements in your yard like things made of concrete, rock, wood, and metal. Not only do these features last a long time without constant care, they add structure and a personalized touch to your landscape.
Hardscaping ideas that will increase your curb appeal and elevate your outdoor space:
- A fire pit for guests to gather around or an outdoor kitchen to take backyard barbecues to the next level
- Water features like fountains, bird baths, and ponds
- Simple concrete pavers to mark walkways and add design structure
- Elements that activate your senses, like a water wall, wind chimes, or colorful windmills
- Recycled landscaping elements to add a whimsical and eco-friendly touch
- An outdoor living space with a patio and string lights to create an intimate ambiance
Part of low-maintenance landscaping is making your landscape do the work for you. When it comes to that, the most valuable player is definitely mulch. If you thought those wood chips were just for show, think again. Mulch does a lot to keep your landscape healthy.
Benefits of mulch:
- Keeps soil temperature regulated to protect plant roots from extreme weather
- Provides a visual aid for mowing to protect exposed roots
- Suffocates weeds
- Keeps soil moist (a key element of drought-resistant landscaping)
- Reduces erosion
When choosing mulch, you have two options: Organic mulch (things like pine needles, wood chips, and grass clippings) and inorganic mulch (things like rubber mulch, landscape tarp, landscape fabric, and gravel).
When organic mulch breaks down, it releases important nutrients into the soil like compost would. This gives your plants a boost, but it means your mulch needs to be replaced every year or so. Inorganic mulch is good for visual appeal and will last much longer before needing to be replaced.
6. Use ground covers
Choosing the right kind of grass for your Wichita yard will go a long way to saving you time, money, and energy, but turfgrass is a high-maintenance investment. If you still want a green front yard, but aren’t sure about putin in the work that goes into a traditional lawn, consider ground cover.
Ground covers are low-growing, spreading plants that prevent weeds from overtaking your yard. There are all kinds of ground covers, from soft ones suitable for bare feet to flowering types to beautify your yard to succulents that need no irrigation.
A few of the best ground covers for grass alternatives include:
- Carpet sedum
- Creeping phlox
- Creeping thyme
- Little bluestem
All of these ground covers will thrive in the Wichita area.
7. Use artificial turf
Another great option for replacing your grass is going artificial. Artificial turf isn’t just for putt putt courses — it’s a valuable alternative to the real thing and suitable for all types of homes. Although it’s more expensive up front, you’ll save money down the line on fertilizer, herbicide, and manual labor.
You can customize your artificial turf to fit your unique backyard and lifestyle:
- UV-stabilized coating
- Sanitizing technology
- Pile height
- Urethane backing
- Non-absorbent fiber for pets
As far as maintenance goes, artificial grass doesn’t totally take care of itself. To keep it clean and looking its best, you’ll need to rake it weekly and wash regularly with an antibacterial solution.
Garden with a pro
If low-maintenance landscaping sounds great, how about no-maintenance landscaping? A landscaping company in the Wichita area can handle all your landscaping needs, including installing hardscapes and plants, tree trimming, and gutter cleaning.
If the idea of dragging out the mower makes you tired already, hire a Lawn Love team to take care of weekly lawn mowing, edging, and seasonal cleanup.
Main photo credit: Pexels | Pixabay