8 Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Wilmington, DE

Wilmington, Delaware Riverwalk

The only thing better than a beautiful backyard is one that also takes care of itself. Our guide to low-maintenance landscaping in Wilmington will save you time and money so you can spend your weekends relaxing. 

Zoysiagrass | Forest and Kim Starr | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Plant the right grass

Choosing the right grass will go a long way in saving you work down the line. You want a grass that will thrive in the Wilmington climate instead of one that will struggle to survive. When your lawn is happy, it’s less prone to disease and pests. 

Our top picks for the best grass types in Wilmington are:

  • Tall fescue: This is a resilient, drought-tolerant grass that maintains its color into summer and tolerates some shade.
  • Fine fescue: With a soft texture that feels great under your feet, fine fescue does do well in poor soil. 
  • Kentucky bluegrass: A beautiful, blue-green grass that looks amazing but is a high-maintenance grass that is susceptible to disease. 
  • Perennial ryegrass: This is a great, low-maintenance option for overseeding and greening up your lawn quickly. 
  • Zoysiagrass: For a disease-resistant, dense turf, look no further than Zoysiagrass. 
Sprinkler Watering Grass
AxxLC | Pixaby

2. Automate your irrigation

Setting your alarm for 6 a.m. on a Saturday to turn on your sprinklers isn’t our idea of a relaxing weekend. Plus, how likely are you to hit snooze? Manually-operated irrigation is a recipe for skipped days or forgotten sprinklers, meaning under watered or overwatered grass. 

Improper watering can lead to: 

  • Fungal disease
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Erosion 
  • A dead lawn

Instead, automate your irrigation. There is a higher up-front cost for automated irrigation, but it will save you money in the long run on water bills and water waste. For example, you can program an automated sprinkler system to decrease its water output by 50% in the winter when grass is dormant. Find out just how expensive lawn irrigation is in your city here.

To keep your watering routine in tip-top shape, follow these tips:

✓ Don’t water at night or in the evening (can increase risk of fungal disease and pests)
✓ Water before 8 a.m.
✓ Make sure your irrigation is hitting all the target areas and not your driveway or other hardscapes
✓ Keep your sprinkler system maintained and clean
Choose a sprinkler system appropriate for your particular yard

bee sitting on top of a purple coneflower
Coneflower (perennial) | It’s No Game | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Choose perennials

What’s the difference between an annual and a perennial? An annual plant dies every year (usually in winter) and needs to be replaced with a new plant. A perennial, with proper care, may go dormant, but will come back for years to come. 

How to care for perennial plants:

  • Group them by water needs (hydrozoning) so plants don’t get under or overwatered. 
  • Add organic mulch twice a year for beneficial nutrients. 
  • Pinch spent flowers off flowering plants and prune plants according to their individual needs. 
  • Make sure the flower bed is positioned in an area that receives its preferred amount of sunlight.  
red and orange butterfly milkweed
Butterfly milkweed | John Flannery | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

4. Start a native garden

The ultimate hack to make landscape maintenance a breeze? Choosing plants that are perfect for your environment. Native plants have adapted to the Delaware landscape over centuries. As a result, they’ll save you on maintenance.

Benefits of native plants:

  • Save money due to their reduced fertilizer needs
  • Usually require less water
  • Save you time by requiring less maintenance work
  • Attract beneficial pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds

The options for adding native plants to your Wilmington landscape are endless, but here are a few that will liven up your outdoor living space.

Native wildflowers

  • Butterfly milkweed
  • Cardinal flower
  • Seaside goldenrod
  • Maidenhair fern

Native trees

  • Red maple
  • Sassafras
  • Bald cypress
  • Virginia pine

Native shrubs

  • Smooth witherod
  • Bayberry
  • Silky Dogwood
  • Witchhazel
Pine needles and pinecone
Pine needles | arrowmaze | Pixabay

5. Mulch

Who knew that a layer of mulch could be a shortcut to a thriving landscape? This lawn superhero has all kinds of benefits for your yard. The best part? It does its thing all on its own. 

Benefits of mulch include:

  • Regulates soil temperature
  • Releases nutrients into the soil as the mulch breaks down
  • Suffocates weeds
  • Keeps soil moist
  • Reduces erosion

It might seem too good to be true, but the reason mulch is so powerful is because it mimics the natural buildup that occurs in environments where most plants thrive, like forest floors. The best type of mulch to buy is organic mulch: leaves, tree bark, grass clippings, and pine needles. Inorganic mulch like gravel, landscape fabric, and rubber mulch can provide some of the same benefits but won’t increase the fertility of the soil as they break down. 

heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger
Wild ginger | Kevin Faccenda | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

6. Use ground cover

If you’re ready to throw in the towel on turf, take heart. Getting rid of grass doesn’t have to mean a bare lawn. A good ground cover can fill your landscape with green without needing the extensive watering, fertilization, and disease control traditional grass often requires. 

What is ground cover? Ground cover is any low-growing, creeping plant. Ground covers good for Delaware include:

  • Wild ginger
  • Plumbago
  • Lily of the valley
  • Threadleaf coreopsis
  • Wood geranium
  • Creeping phlox
  • Mountain stonecrop

7. Incorporate hardscaping 

If your goal is to minimize how many things you have to take care of in your landscape, think about hardscaping. Hardscaping refers to the nonliving elements of your yard (as opposed to plants). Think fire pits, water features, retaining walls, decks, pavers, and pergolas. 

Hardscaping doesn’t have to be boring! Here are a few ideas to spruce up your hardscaping choices and increase your curb appeal:

  • Go with a theme. If you live near the water, coastal landscaping can provide a cohesive aesthetic to your outdoor space.
  • Activate your senses with hardscaping that stimulates sound, touch, or sight, like chimes, a carved bench, or a water wall. 
  • Go green by incorporating ideas for recycled landscaping
  • Lock down your home’s safety with hurricane-friendly hardscaping. 
closeup of an American Gold Finch sitting on bird feeder
Aaron J. Hill | Pexels

8. Accessorize

Sometimes the little things make a big difference. Accessorizing your landscape can transform your backyard’s atmosphere and take it from plain to paradise. 

  • Add colorful bird feeders for a pop of vibrancy and to attract birds to your garden. 
  • Hang string lights and lanterns around your outdoor seating area for an intimate feel to any gathering. Add landscape lighting around walkways, as well, for a professional landscaping look.
  • Incorporate visual borders in transition areas like a semi-circle of bricks. 
  • Add a window box of herbs to the sill outside your kitchen window. 

Making small changes like this personalizes your landscape and can be exactly what it needs to come together. It’s budget friendly, and you can get creative with materials you already have for an easy home project. 

Get help from a pro

The ultimate low-maintenance landscaping technique is hiring someone else! Just because you’re a homeowner doesn’t mean you have to take on all your landscaping projects. A team of lawn care service professionals from Lawn Love can help with all your lawn maintenance needs from edging to weekly mowing to seasonal cleanup. If you need a hand with hardscaping or plant installation, call a Networx landscaping company. 

Main photo credit: likeaduck | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Rachel Abrams

Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, Rachel Abrams studied creative writing at the University of Virginia. She enjoys volunteering at her neighborhood community garden and growing herbs in her New York City apartment.