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Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Pennsylvania Home

Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for Your Pennsylvania Home


By Bryce Thompson

Even if you're stuck at home, you don't have to limit yourself to staying indoors. Today's homeowners are expanding their living and entertaining spaces into their backyards. While we appreciate a beautiful landscape, we don't want to spend too much time maintaining it. With some thoughtful planning and low-maintenance landscaping, you can achieve both goals.


The first step in cutting down maintenance is to reduce the amount of turf covering the landscape. That’s the stuff you have to mow, edge, fertilize, and water during the growing season. Reducing the amount of grass also gives you the opportunity to improve the aesthetics of your yard, making it more appealing. So, where do you start?

Add More Flower Beds

The more flower bed space you use, the less turf you have. Widen the beds next to the house and fences or add them if you don’t have them. You can also add islands within the yard. Install flowering plants or shrubs to these beds. Fill the beds with mulch to retain moisture and discourage weeds. An occasional shrub-trimming is much less work than weekly mowing and edging.

Plant Native

Native plants, whether annuals or perennials, trees or shrubs, will always fare better than non-natives. Plants that are accustomed to Pennsylvania's climate are more drought-resistant and need little care to thrive. Use a variety of plants with staggered blooming times to enjoy blossoms throughout the growing season. Fortunately, we have an abundance of native plants that thrive in Pennsylvania.

  • Spring-early summer bloomers: Columbine, blue wild indigo, wild geranium, Jacob’s ladder, wild ginger, alumroot.

  • Mid-summer: butterfly weed, turtlehead, bugbane, ox-eye sunflower, Turk’s cap lily.

  • Late summer-early fall blossoms: whitewood aster, Joe-pye weed, sneezeweed, sunflowers, marsh blazing star, black-eyed Susan.

  • Trees: red maple, sugar maple, eastern white pine, flowering dogwood, river birch, eastern redbud, sweetbay magnolia.

  • Shrubs: witch alder, summersweet, American pussy willow, swamp azalea, mountain laurel, American wisteria.

The Penn State Extension Service offers a longer list of native perennials that will add year-round interest to your garden. The service also recommends buying plants at a reputable nursery rather than picking them in the wild.

Add Features

This can be as simple as adding paved or gravel pathways, terraced planter boxes, or landscaping boulders. Hardscapes such as pavement or gravel don't need mowing or watering. Expanding your patio would also give you room for an outdoor kitchen. This could add value to your home and give you another reason to enjoy the outdoors.


If your budget allows, pergolas or gazebos reduce turf and allow you to use your yard in inclement weather. Water features such as pools or fountains are another possibility (though a pool is not low maintenance).


If you use landscaping boulders, install them on non-turf surfaces such as gravel or concrete to avoid the hassle of weed-whacking around them.

Follow Good Landscape Maintenance Practices

Take good care of the lawn that remains. Proper watering, fertilizing, mowing, pruning, and thatching will help keep your lawn healthy. A healthy lawn can withstand disease and insects and reduce the need for pesticide applications — which are maintenance hassles.


A well-maintained, healthy landscape has the added benefit of attracting desirable wildlife such as bees, butterflies, and songbirds. You'll also attract useful predators, including ladybugs and green lacewings, both of which eat harmful bugs.


No yard is maintenance-free. But a little planning and upfront work can help ensure you a healthy, low-maintenance, and beautiful landscape!


Bryce Thompson is a home stager and freelance writer who specializes in inexpensive ways to improve curb appeal.