5 Things People Who Have Low Maintenance Yards Never Choose — and What They do Instead

We asked experts to guide us on materials, products, plants, and more that they'd always avoid to keep a yard low maintenance

A backyard with lush grass and fencing
(Image credit: Leonid Furmansky and Casey Dunn. Design: Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects-1)

As we approach spring, the weather coaxes us to spend time outside, tending to the garden, preparing for outdoor parties, or simply enjoying a morning coffee. But if your front yard or backyard hasn't been designed or landscaped carefully, getting it back to a state where you actually want to spend time in can be a lot of hard work, especially after a bad winter.

If you don't want to be on a constant front or backyard renovation project, then it's important to choose the right elements from the beginning. We asked landscaping experts to point out what they never pick for their clients who ask for low maintenance yards — and what you should be choosing instead.

1. Non-weatherproof textiles

A backyard with seating furnished in green and white

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Adding furniture, chairs or, even a whole lounge section in your modern garden will increase this space's functionality. But you want to be careful about what chair or sofa fabrics, plus outdoor rugs you select for the backyard.

'Avoid outdoor furnishings and fabrics prone to weather damage and deterioration,' says Lauren Lerner, CEO and founder of Living with Lolo. 'Fabrics like cotton or linen invite mold and mildew growth. Delicate materials such as silk or velvet lack durability for outdoor use. Choose fabrics like solution-dyed acrylic or polyester to ensure longevity and maintain appearance.'

'Also, for outdoor upholstery, man-made fibers like coated polyester, acrylic, and olefin both wear better than natural fibers and are also resistant to moisture,' says Elle Mroz, founder of Ellie Mroz Design. 'Look for brands that carry the 'Sunbrella', 'Perennials' or 'Inside Out' labels, as these are good indications that the fabric will tolerate harsh outdoor conditions. We also recommend stain-resistant fabrics because the point of outdoor furnishing is to enjoy it, not worry about it.'

2. Untreated wood and metal furniture

Patio with covering and dining space

(Image credit: Julie Soefer. Design: Marie Flanigan Interior)

Want a beautiful outdoor dining space? If you have the space and enough reason to create a secondary living space outdoors, it's essential to choose the right furniture materials that last you many springs and summers.

'Untreated wood can rot, while metal without rust-resistant coatings may corrode,' says Lauren. 'For the best outdoor furniture that lasts a long time, opt for weather-resistant materials like aluminum or synthetic wicker.'

3. Flood lights and non-weatherproof fixtures

String lights light an outdoor pathway from above

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

'When choosing exterior lighting for your yard, avoid options that cause light pollution, disturb wildlife, or create glare for neighbors,' says Lauren. 'Skip floodlights with excessive wattage and non-weatherproof fixtures to prevent safety hazards. Also, be wary of intrusive pathway lights and low-quality solar-powered options. Opt for fixtures with adjustable brightness, directional control, and weatherproof construction to ensure responsible lighting that enhances your space without drawbacks.'

Choose modern garden lighting such as LED bulbs, solar lamps and discreet lighting such as built-in LED uplights for plants.

4. Fescue and Common Bent grass

A large backyard with healthy green grass and shrubs in the border

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When considering how to plan a modern garden, you want to make sure that you landscape the backyard with grass and plants that are easy to maintain and look beautiful without too much hard work.

'Picking the right grass for the garden should be carefully considered as certain types such as Fescue and Common Bent can be challenging to maintain every day,' says Chris Bonnett, founder of Gardening Express. 'Fescue in particular needs to be mowed more often than typical grass and will need to be watered frequently during warmer temperatures.'

'An easier option which also looks great in the garden is Ryegrass,' says Chris. 'Ryegrass is an easy option to maintain as it can survive throughout the entire year during both hot and cold temperatures. Zoysia is also another viable choice. The grass requires less water and maintenance compared to other types of grass. It thrives when the sun is out and can grow out other weeds, making the garden less of a chore to take care of.'

5. Orchids and roses

roses in a mulched flower bed

(Image credit: Getty Images / Elizabeth Fernandez)

The secret to a low maintenance garden is to pick plants and flowers that survive most of the year, and that thrive without needing too much attention. Of course, if you're a keen gardener, then the choices for you are endless.

'Orchids are deemed more difficult to look after as they require high humidity,' says Chris. 'Roses can also be a challenge, despite making a garden look beautiful as they tend to pick up diseases. Both grow and thrive in the right conditions but they require extra care and attention which may not suit a gardener's idea of a low-maintenance yard.'

'Instead choose evergreen shrubs such as Choisya, Skimmias, and Fatsias that tend to look after themselves once established, requiring little more than pruning,' says Chris. 'For a colorful backyards that’s easy to maintain, we recommend peonies, pansies, and cosmos. They will only need to be watered once or twice a week to grow healthily. Just make sure to regularly monitor their condition once the weather warms up to prevent them from becoming dry. Peonies may need staking if they start to droop so they can bloom effectively.'

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Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.