Whether it’s large or small, sunny or shady, there’s nothing like relaxing in your own backyard. Low-maintenance backyard plant ideas allow you to spend less time watering and weeding and more time enjoying your space.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to create a beautifully green backyard without tons of maintenance. Read on for twenty of our favorite backyard plant ideas. Whether you want to invest in planting perennials or change it up with seasonal plants, we’ve got you covered.
Enjoy your green space for years to come with these easy-care backyard plant ideas.
1. Pollinator Paradise
Plant butterfly bushes to add green to your garden and attract lots of beautiful butterflies, too! These easy-care bushes grow quickly and don’t need much protection from cold winters or stormy weather. Butterfly bushes can thrive anywhere from a country home to a city courtyard.
Milkweed, fruit trees, and chrysanthemums are also hardy perennials that welcome butterflies. Find out more about how to attract pollinators to your backyard!
2. Formal and Floral
Boxwoods and hydrangeas are a classic, easy-care pairing. Together, they turn your backyard into an elegant entertaining space with very little upkeep!
Once established, hydrangeas will fill out and bloom throughout the growing season. If you have a lot of space to fill, these perennial flowering bushes are a great backyard plant idea.
Because boxwoods are evergreen, you’ll have attractive landscaping all year round. Choose slow-growing varieties so that you’ll only have to prune and shape the hedges once or twice a year.
Find Annabelle Hydrangeas like the ones pictured above at Nature Hills!
3. Shade-Loving Pergola
If your backyard gets too much sun to enjoy in the warmer months, add structures that provide greenery and shade. You can train climbing vines to cover pergolas, arbors, and trellises.
Look for vines that are fast growing and easy to establish. Wisteria and honeysuckle are sweet-smelling options. Climbing roses and clematis provide colorful flowers throughout the season, too.
Find a similar pergola with built-in trellises on Amazon!
Check out five more of our favorite backyard pergolas!
4. Alternative Groundcover
This backyard plant idea is eco-friendly, too! If you really want an easy-care backyard, replace a traditional grass lawn with an alternative groundcover. Powder puff or sunshine mimosa is a no-mow, low growing groundcover that will add green and puffs of pink to your backyard!
Grow sunshine mimosa from seeds available at True Leaf Market!
5. Cutting Garden
If you love fresh bouquets, plant some of your favorite perennials in a permanent cutting garden! Choose flowers with a variety of shapes and colors to add interest to your backyard and your floral arrangements.
If you have the space, choose multiple flowering plants with overlapping bloom times. This will ensure you have greenery and flowers all season long!
6. Desert Delight
Even if your climate gets very little rainfall, you aren’t limited to rock gardens and cacti. Other backyard plant ideas include air plants, succulents, and some ornamental grasses. Planting these directly in the ground can help keep dry, sandy soil from eroding, too.
Add shade and color to your backyard with a drought-tolerant tree. This gorgeous Palo Verde tree features green foliage and vibrant yellow blooms.
Get started with your desert landscaping by browsing the ornamental grasses collection at Nature Hills Nursery.
7. Unexpected Borders
Plenty of landscaping designs include plant borders around porches and fences. If your yard has an exciting feature like this slide, add low-maintenance plants like ivy to accentuate the edges.
In addition to greening up your space, this backyard plant idea easily fills in gaps between structures. Rather than posting signs that say “Don’t Climb” or “Watch Your Step,” simply block the area with plants.
Find fast-growing English Ivy plants at Nature Hills!
8. Crocus Carpet
Are you anxious to get back to backyard living as soon as the snow clears? You can green up your space even in late winter! Try planting crocuses throughout your backyard lawn. They’ll be gone long before the grass starts to grow and lawn mowing season is upon us.
Crocuses are bulbs, so plant them once and they’ll reappear every year!
Nature Hills has a wide selection of crocus bulbs!
9. Rain Chain Garden
Transform a damp, boggy area of your backyard into a vibrant green space! Use a pretty rain chain to direct even more water to your rain garden.
Look for plants that thrive in wet conditions, like cardinal flower, coneflowers, and Joe Pye weed. Depending on your climate, you may not need to pull out your watering can all season. What could be more low maintenance than a garden that waters itself?
Find a similar rain chain on Amazon!
10. Raised Beds
Add a permanent raised bed to your backyard and fill it with easy-care perennials, like these tulips. Once planted, bulbs like tulips and daffodils will reappear every spring.
If you like to use your patio year-round, layer multiple plants that bloom in different seasons. Or choose evergreen options like ornamental grasses and small hedges.
A similar cedar-raised bed is available on Amazon!
Seasonal Backyard Plant Ideas
If you like to change up your decor frequently, you might prefer annuals and container gardens. This is also a great solution for renters. You can easily green up your space without committing to long-term landscaping.
11. Pretty Privacy Screen
Fences and privacy screens are backyard staples for townhouses and other close communities. Green up your screen by adding planter boxes!
Succulents and herbs with small root systems will work best for this backyard plant idea. We like the variety of upright, low-growing, and trailing plants in this arrangement. Keep the plants in individual pots so you can rearrange them easily!
Find a privacy screen with planter boxes on Amazon!
12. Brighten Shady Spots
Add containers of shade-loving plants to the parts of your backyard that don’t get a lot of light. If your backyard is overcast by large trees or other buildings, you might have trouble maintaining a lawn. Choose a beautiful collection of container plants instead to green up your space.
Hostas like these require very little maintenance and add green to otherwise forgotten corners. Other shade-tolerant foliage plants include ferns, ivy, and sweet potato vines.
Plenty of shade-loving hostas are available at Nature Hills Nursery!
13. Backyard Bench
If your backyard is entertainment central, you can still green up your space! Purchase or build a bench that doubles as a planter.
Plant citronella, which doesn’t need to be watered often and helps deter mosquitoes from your guests. Even simple evergreens like boxwood or cypress would add life to your outdoor space.
Look on Amazon for a beautiful wooden bench with built-in planters!
14. Big, Bountiful Containers
For a backyard plant idea that makes a statement, think big. Really, really big. Choose plants with large leaves and a spreading habit to fill an extra-large container.
Dramatic trailing plants that don’t require much care include sweet potato vine and coleus. Don’t forget to add some taller plants to the mix for added interest. This container features King Tut umbrella grass. Most ornamental grasses would help add height to a large container. You could even include a berry bush or dwarf fruit tree.
Find King Tut grass at Nature Hills Nursery!
15. Hanging Baskets
You don’t have to stick to hanging baskets from a porch ceiling. Accentuate a railing with flowers like petunias that will bloom all season long!
This is one of our favorite backyard plant ideas because hanging baskets are so versatile. Mix and match complementary plants in each basket for a dynamic display. The next year, you can choose different annuals for a completely different look.
Petunias are easy to grow with seeds from Amazon!
16. Water Garden
A water feature adds a calming focal point to any backyard space. You don’t have to invest in an in-ground koi pond. A large container can support a water garden right on your patio! Simply keep the water level topped off and your aquatic plants will thrive.
Since your new water garden is portable, you can move it anywhere in your backyard to use as decor. Make it an easy centerpiece on a patio table for gatherings. For a peaceful night at home, move it next to your favorite chair.
Create your own portable water garden with a kit available on Amazon!
17. Beautify built-ins
Add container plants around built-in features of your backyard, like this hot tub or even pools and trampolines. This backyard plant idea provides both ambience and privacy.
Take advantage of shady areas for hanging ferns. Plant dwarf trees in a container for extra privacy. Bonus: if it gets too cold to enjoy your outdoor space, simply take these container plants inside. They’ll be ready to go when the weather warms up again.
Add green under awnings by choosing from a variety of ferns at Nature Hills Nursery!
18. Unexpected Whimsy
Choose unconventional containers to maximize space and add some fun to your container plants. Small containers like these can support shallow-rooted plants like begonias.
Don’t count on reusing these upcycled containers, though. You’ll want to poke holes in the bottom to allow drainage for your plants.
Not ready to sacrifice your Wellies? Try these rainboot planters from Amazon!
19. Mobile Greenspace
Even if your backyard is more of a balcony or small courtyard, you can add plenty of greenery to your space. Use a mobile garden cart for a collection of container plants. Keeping them all together makes it easy to water and care for your plants. Choose fast-growing herbs like mint or lavender that smell good, too.
Added bonus: your garden on wheels can be moved inside in severe weather or around the yard to get more sun.
Find a stylish bar cart on Amazon to serve as your mobile garden!
20. Vertical Gardens
Vertical gardens add lots of green to your yard and are easy to care for. Stacking planters like these can support twenty or forty plants that can be watered all at once. This backyard plant idea is great for packing maximum greenery into a small backyard.
Strawberries and petunias are popular choices for vertical gardens. Their shallow root systems don’t require much soil, so they thrive in smaller containers.
Mister Stacky gardens, like the ones pictured here, are available on Amazon!
Not quite right for you? Choose the best vertical garden for your space!
Best Backyard Plant Ideas For Every Yard
No matter where you make your home, there are plenty of ways to green up your backyard. Use these twenty easy-care backyard plant ideas as inspiration for your own personal oasis! Whether you love entertaining large groups or quiet evenings on the patio, a beautiful green backyard is the perfect setting.
Make the most of your outdoor spaces and find more inspiration for backyard living on our website!
- About the Author
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Ellen Smith is a novelist, freelance education writer, and a writer for Minneopa Orchards.
While quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellen and her family started gardening. They are now in their third year of maintaining a vegetable garden, two flower gardens, and several thriving house plants.
With a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology and a master’s in education, Ellen is no stranger to researching and sharing what she’s learned. Ellen especially enjoys learning and writing about sustainable gardening practices and native plants.
Ellen can be reached at email@example.com