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8 Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Home in Lancaster, Hershey, and Reading, PA

Posted On: June 29,2018 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Home patio landscape with fire pit, pavers, and shrubsIf you’re someone that likes to throw a lot of backyard parties and enjoy a lot of time in your gorgeous outdoor living space, then chances are, you’re looking for a low maintenance landscaping. After all, you want to be able to enjoy your yard and truly relax when you’re out there, not spend time working on it. You may travel frequently for work (or for fun) and when you’re home, you don’t want to have to invest time in managing your landscape. You just want to enjoy it. But even if you’re having a company professionally maintain your landscape, it’s in your best financial interest to have a low maintenance property that can be easily kept looking its best.

Of course, everyone’s definition of “low maintenance” can be different. That’s why it’s so important that you work with a landscape designer who will take your needs seriously during the consultation and design a landscape that is right for you.

If you’re looking for low maintenance landscaping ideas, we’ve rounded up some of our best.

1. Mulch vs. Stone

While mulch is the best option for your plants, there are times when it is not the most desirable option in terms of maintenance. This would be particularly true if you have a poolscape where you are worried about mulch getting tracked or blown into the pool. For areas close to a pool, you could opt for decorative gravel —not tiny pebbles, as these could also get tracked into the pool, but larger rounded rocks.pool with decorative stone gravel

Then you could add a layer of mulch with plants behind that, where it’s blocked off from getting tracked or easily blown, but still allows you grow a wider array of plant material.

2. Low Maintenance Landscape Plants

Choosing the right plant material is also important when it comes to creating a low maintenance landscape. You’re going to want to choose plants that won’t require a lot of tending to, meaning they don’t require lots of trimming, are drought-tolerant, and are not prone to disease or pest problems.Deck with low maintenance landscape plants

Some good choices when it comes to low maintenance landscape plants include some of the following.

  • Ornamental Grasses: Sedge or Fountain Grass
  • Ground Cover: Liriope, Coneflowers, Creeping Juniper, Pachysandra, or Periwinkle
  • Shrubs: Spirea, Burning Bush, Butterfly Bush, Boxwood, Weigela, or Siberian Cypress

3. Choosing Low Maintenance Structure Materials

If you’re looking to have a structure on your property built such as a pergola, then you may be weighing the options of composite vs. typical, pressure-treated wood. While the installation price for composite is more than pressure-treated lumber, due to the fact that it won’t have ongoing maintenance over time, it will become a lot more cost comparable if you look several years into the future. Composite material will also save you the headache of dealing with maintenance tasks such as regularly sanding and staining your deck.Patio with pergola and dining table

In addition, whereas wood can crack or splinter, composite will not. And if you spill something on a composite material, all you have to do is wipe it up whereas wood can very easily be stained. Plus, the occasional pressure washing is all it takes to make composite look new again.

4. Look at Gas vs. Wood Fire Features

Fire features really come down to a matter of preference. While we believe nothing can beat the smell and the sound of using real wood in a fire feature, others would give those two benefits up in a heartbeat for the ease-of-use and lack of maintenance involved in a gas fire feature. With gas, you can literally turn your fire feature on and off at the push of a button. You don’t have to wait for embers to slowly burn out or the fire feature to cool down. Once turned off, a gas fire feature quickly returns to normal temperature.Patio fire pit fountain

With a gas fire feature, you also eliminate the hassle of storing wood, which will require a location on your property. You also will not have to worry about having ash cleaned out from time to time. And instead of it taking some time to build your fire, you can start it instantaneously.

Of course, to some homeowners, the act of building the fire is all part of the fun. This is another circumstance where your personal preferences truly matter and should be accounted for in the design process.

5. Concrete vs. Natural Stone vs. Pavers

If a low maintenance landscape is your goal, then you’re going to want to look at patio material choices with upkeep in mind. Both natural stone and pavers are relatively low maintenance, assuming they’re installed correctly. They are both highly durable materials. Pavers require a bit more maintenance than natural stone in that they do require sealing, approximately every three years.Patio made with pavers

Concrete, on the other hand, has a lot of downsides in terms of maintenance. Although it is low cost, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Durability is a big concern. In all honesty, it’s not a matter of “if” concrete will crack, it’s a matter of when.

The Harrisburg, York, Hershey, and Lancaster, PA climate has a lot of thawing and refreezing in the winter, making it inevitable that a patio made of concrete will eventually crack. Then you’re left with the hassle of trying to fill in that crack, which is always going to look patched and is virtually possible to disguise.


6. Choosing the Best Outdoor Kitchen Appliances

When it comes to creating a truly hassle-free outdoor kitchen, it’s worth investing a little bit more money in your appliances and feeling confident that they’re going to last. While it will mean more money upfront, it can save you in the long run. There is nothing worse than having to tear into a built-in grill area because you opted for a lower quality grill and it needs to be replaced. You want to be sure that you choose a grill that will last.Outdoor kitchen grill and appliances

The same goes for other outdoor kitchen appliances you might be considering. Choosing higher quality will allow you to feel confident that it’s not going to break down on you.

7. Opting for Low Maintenance Water Features

If you’re thinking about adding water features to your outdoor living space and a low maintenance landscape is important to you, then a fish pond is not going to be your best choice. Fish ponds require ongoing maintenance such as periodically checking on (and possibly unclogging) the filter, feeding the fish, and even tending to weeds.Retaining wall fountain

Instead, opt for a pondless waterfall, which still gives you the babbling sound of the water, but without the pond to maintain. Or, you could go even lower maintenance and choose to add a fountain or bubbling urn. These will also give you the sound of water without a lot of work.

8. Low Maintenance Landscape Lighting Choices

LED lighting is the gold standard when it comes to outdoor landscape lighting and there’s a good reason why. It will perform better while being more energy efficient. That means it will save you dramatically on your energy costs.Home with landscape lighting in Lancaster PA

In addition, LED lighting also allows you to add some really exciting features that will also simplify any work involved in setting up your space. For instance, you could have color-themed holiday lighting programmed into the system that can be turned on at the push of a button when the time comes.

That means no more dragging out a ladder and stringing lights. And if you’re hosting an outdoor party, you can pre-program lighting setups that allow you to simply push a button when the party begins. Your landscape lighting setup can suit the exact needs of your property.

Choosing Low Maintenance Landscaping for More Enjoyability

If being able to truly enjoy your landscape and not have to worry about maintenance is a primary goal, then keeping some of these ideas in mind before your project gets underway will help you achieve that goal. Working with a Registered Landscape Architect who truly understands the level of maintenance you’re willing to perform will be key.

Patio landscape with outdoor kitchen, dining area, and poolOf course, if you have a dream backyard, and you have very little time to spend in it to begin with, that level of tolerance for maintenance may be a zero. Your life is busy and you are often pulled in many directions. When you’re in your backyard, all you want to do is enjoy it. If you have extensive backyard landscaping, you need a company that can understand and meet your exact needs through professional maintenance  that is a lot like “property management” of your complete outdoor living area.

At Earth, Turf, & Wood we offer two packages and additional services to completely care for your property, year-round, leaving you with nothing to do but enjoy your space. If you don’t already have an outdoor living space, but you’re considering a new installation, then you likely want a company that can seamlessly transition from design/build into maintaining that space. Once your space is complete, we can help you choose the package that is best for you.

No matter what route you take—professional maintenance or a DIY approach—by having worked with a design professional from the start, there will be no surprises in terms of the maintenance involved in your landscape. That means that you’ll be able to spend more time enjoying your property and less time working on it.

If you’d like to discuss the installation of a low maintenance landscape and professional maintenance services for your Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, Hershey, or Reading, PA home, then contact us for a free consultation.

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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