Best Plants For A Low-Maintenance Backyard Garden

Creating a beautiful and vibrant backyard garden can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires hard work and dedication. However, not everyone has the time or energy to devote to a high-maintenance garden. Fortunately, plenty of plants can thrive with minimal care, making them perfect for low-maintenance backyard gardens.

This article will explore some of the best plants for low-maintenance gardening so that you can enjoy a beautiful and stress-free outdoor space.

Characteristics Of Low-Maintenance Plants

Easy-care plants are those that require minimal care and attention to thrive. These plants typically have a high tolerance for drought, require little fertilization, and are resistant to pests and diseases. They also have a long lifespan and do not need frequent pruning or trimming. The characteristics of these plants are as follows:

Drought-Tolerant Plant

Drought-tolerant plants are those that can survive and even thrive in dry, arid conditions. They have adapted to conserve water and can go for extended periods without being watered. Thus making them ideal for areas with low rainfall or for those who do not have the time to water their plants regularly.

Hardy Plant

These plants can withstand extreme temperatures, harsh weather conditions, and other environmental stresses. They are resilient and can recover quickly from damage.

Disease-Resistant Plant

They are those that are less susceptible to pests and diseases. They have natural defense mechanisms that protect them from common plant ailments, reducing the need for frequent pruning and maintenance.

Slow-Growing Plant

Slow-growing plants are those that take their time to mature and don’t require frequent pruning or trimming. They are low-maintenance because they don’t need constant attention to keep them in check.

Best Plants For A Backyard Garden That Require Minimal Upkeep

A low-maintenance backyard garden filled with purple and yellow flowers.

Native Wildflowers

Native plants are an excellent choice for low-maintenance gardens because they are adapted to local conditions, making them hardy and resilient. Requiring little water and fertilizer, these plants help to save both time and money. Moreover, planting native wildflowers can reduce the need for pesticides and herbicides, protecting wildlife and promoting a healthier ecosystem.

    • Fireweed
      It is a tall plant with vibrant pink or purple flowers that bloom in the late summer. It is also a popular plant for bees and other pollinators, as its nectar is rich in sugars. While this species can thrive in areas exposed to full sun, it prefers part shade in climates with scorching hot summers to ensure optimal growth.


    • Blue Vervain
      The plant has blue-purple flowers that bloom in the summer and is often used in landscaping for its attractive appearance. In suitable growing conditions, blue vervain can self-seed. To avoid its spread, it is advisable to remove the spent flowers. However, if you wish to encourage its growth, you can plant it in a naturalized garden where its self-seeding ability would be welcomed.


  • New England Aster
    The plant is native to a significant portion of the US, spanning from the eastern half of Canada to the Pacific Northwest, and extending south to Georgia, and west to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. New England Aster has purple, pink, or white flowers that are up to 2 inches wide and a yellow center. And it can grow up to 6 feet tall and is often used in gardens and landscaping.


A low-maintenance backyard garden featuring purple flowers in the grass.

When creating a low-maintenance garden, perennials are the way to go. Perennials are plants that come back year after year, while annuals must be replanted yearly.

Perennials require less time and effort to maintain. Once planted, they will continue to grow and bloom year after year without much intervention. They are hardy plants that can survive the harsh Canadian winters and the fluctuating weather patterns throughout the year. In comparison, annuals require constant attention and care, including watering, fertilizing, and pruning.

Although the initial investment may be higher than buying annuals, perennials are a one-time investment that will save you money over time. And since annuals require replanting every year, it can quickly add up in time and money spent purchasing new plants, soil, and fertilizer.

Additionally, perennials require less water and fertilizer than annuals, which helps reduce your environmental footprint. Further, they provide year-round habitat and food for pollinators, which is essential for a healthy ecosystem.

Lastly, perennials offer a wider variety of choices when it comes to garden design. Perennials come in many different shapes, sizes, and colours, so you can create a diverse and unique garden that suits your taste.

    • Coneflowers
      These perennials are a must-have for any sun-soaked summer garden, boasting picturesque and vibrant blooms that attract bees and butterflies alike. Perfect for mass plantings, mixed beds, and perennial borders, these showy flowers truly steal the show. As autumn approaches, remember to leave some spent blooms on the plants, as their seeds are a vital source of winter sustenance for birds such as finches. Come winter; the dried seed heads serve as an intriguing architectural element in the garden.
    • Catmint
      These plants are ideal for borders, rock gardens, and containers, boasting their drought-tolerant and deer-resistant features while attracting butterflies and bees with their fragrant flowers. Catmint blooms during early summer to early fall and, depending on the cultivar, can grow up to 1-3 feet tall, making them perfect for filling in empty spaces in your backyard.
    • Blanket Flower
      It is a member of the sunflower family and is known for its bright and showy flowers, which come in a range of colours including red, orange, yellow, and burgundy. They are heat tolerant and actually prefer to be grown in poor soil. They can be spotted in the prairie area and extending towards the Rockies, growing in fields and alongside roads.
    • Lavender
      It is known for its fragrant purple flowers and has been used for centuries for its aromatic and medicinal properties. Lavender essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy and is believed to have a calming effect on the body and mind. Every sunny garden needs it, and its dried flowers are often included in potpourris and other decorations.
    • Butterfly Weed
      While butterfly weed is a popular choice for butterfly gardens, it may not be as appealing to monarch butterflies as the common milkweed. However, the Butterfly Milkweed, a native Ontario perennial wildflower, is a great option for low-maintenance gardens as it is highly tolerant of heat and drought.
    • California Poppy
      The plant is known for its vibrant orange or yellow flowers and is commonly used in gardens and landscaping. California poppies are widely regarded as extremely easy to grow, thanks to their shallow planting, low maintenance needs, and self-seeding propagation. To ensure optimal growth, it’s crucial to replicate their natural surroundings. They thrive best under full sun exposure.
    • Globe Thistle
      Standing tall over the striking silver-green leaves, these unique blossoms may appear spiky, but their texture is surprisingly smooth. Echinops is a sought-after choice for fresh-cut and preserved floral arrangements, as it brings a distinct touch to any display. Florists are increasingly drawn to its appeal.
    • Russian Sage

It is a member of the mint family and is characterized by its silvery-gray foliage and tall, spiky purple-blue flowers that bloom from midsummer to early fall. Russian Sage is commonly used in landscaping and gardening for its attractive appearance and ability to attract bees and butterflies.

A field of low-maintenance purple flowers on a sunny day.


Groundcovers are plants that grow low to the ground and spread quickly, forming a dense mat. These plants are excellent for reducing weed growth and minimizing the need for mulching and additional maintenance.

When groundcovers are planted, they quickly fill the space, leaving little room for weeds to grow. This is because the dense mat of groundcovers shades the soil, preventing weed seeds from germinating and growing. This means that the amount of time and effort required to weed and remove unwanted plants is significantly reduced.

Additionally, groundcovers help to retain moisture in the soil, reducing the need for mulching. As a result, the soil stays moist for longer periods, which encourages the growth of healthy plants. This, in turn, reduces the need for additional maintenance such as watering and fertilizing.

Groundcovers are also beneficial because they help to prevent soil erosion. Their roots hold the soil in place, reducing the likelihood of soil being washed away by rain or wind. This means that you won’t need to worry about costly erosion control measures, which can be a significant expense.

  • Creeping thyme
    It is a member of the mint family and is characterized by its fragrant, small, and delicate leaves, which are often used as a culinary herb. Creeping thyme is also known for its attractive and colorful flowers, which bloom in shades of pink, purple, and white. With the ability to tolerate heat and drought, it grows low to the ground, creating a dense mat that crowds out weeds and adds texture to your garden.

  • Sweet woodruff
    Sweet woodruff is another groundcover that thrives in Canadian gardens. It has delicate white flowers and a sweet fragrance that make it a popular choice for shady areas. It’s also a natural insect repellent, making it a great choice for gardens plagued by pests.

  • Periwinkle
    Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle, is a fast-growing groundcover that produces lovely blue-purple flowers in the spring. It’s a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soil conditions and is often used to fill in gaps between shrubs and trees.

  • Wall Germander
    Searching for something distinctive? Try wall germander, an evergreen with woody stems, that is commonly used as a low hedge in knot gardens or along retaining walls. It thrives in sunny conditions and can grow up to 12 inches in height with a spread of 24 inches. Its lavender to pink flowers bloom in July. These plants tolerate fast-draining soil.

Ornamental Grasses

a stream running through a lush green forest with low-maintenance plants.
Ornamental grasses are a great addition to any Canadian garden or landscape. These grasses come in a variety of colours and textures, which can add interest to your garden throughout the year. They also require minimal maintenance, making them an ideal option for homeowners who want to create a beautiful outdoor space without spending a lot of time and effort. Finally, ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant, making them an ideal option for Canadian gardens that experience hot, dry summers.

  • Feather Reed Grass
    With a height of 2-4 feet and a width of 1-2 feet, it is commonly used in landscape design for its attractive foliage and tall, upright habit. The narrow, green leaves have a fine texture and are topped with feathery, reddish-brown flower spikes in early summer. Feather Reed Grass is very adaptable and can grow in a variety of soil types and light conditions, making it a popular choice for both residential and commercial landscaping projects.

  • Blue Fescue
    It is often used in landscaping for its blue-gray foliage and compact size, growing to be only about 6-10 inches tall and wide. It produces small blue-green flowers in late spring to early summer. Blue Fescue is drought-tolerant and prefers full sun to partial shade.

  • Prairie Dropseed
    It is a popular ornamental grass known for its fine-textured leaves, attractive seed heads, and drought tolerance. Prairie Dropseed grows in clumps up to 3 feet tall and wide, with narrow, arching leaves that turn golden in the fall. In late summer, it produces airy, delicate seed heads that turn a warm tan color in the fall.

  • Little Bluestem
    It is a warm-season perennial grass that is commonly used in prairie restoration and landscaping. Little Bluestem has roots that can reach up to 10 feet deep, making it drought-tolerant and able to survive in a variety of soil types. The grass has a blue-green color in the spring and summer, which turns to a reddish-brown in the fall.

Tips For Maintaining A Low-Maintenance Backyard Garden

There are many low-maintenance plants that can add beauty and interest to your yard without requiring much attention. And with the right planting and maintenance techniques, you can keep your garden looking lush and healthy with minimal work.

Proper Cultivating Techniques

a man planting tree
  • Choose the right plants: Select plants that are well-suited to the Canadian climate and the specific conditions of your garden, such as soil type, sunlight exposure, and moisture level.
  • Prepare the soil: Before planting, ensure the soil is healthy and nutrient-rich. Add compost or organic matter to improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients for plant growth.
  • Plant at the right time: Planting at the right time is crucial for the success of your garden. In Canada, it is best to plant low-maintenance plants in the spring or fall when the weather is cool and moist.
  • Dig the planting hole: Dig a hole twice the size of the plant’s root ball, and loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole. This will help the roots to establish themselves and spread out more easily.
  • Plant the plant: Carefully remove the plant from its container, and gently tease apart the roots if they are tightly wound. Place the plant in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  • Consider companion planting: Companion planting is the practice of planting different species of plants together to create a mutually beneficial relationship. For example, planting marigolds alongside vegetables can help repel pests and promote healthy growth.

Maintaining Your Garden

  • Proper watering techniques: Water your plants deeply and less frequently rather than shallowly and often. This encourages more profound root growth and helps plants become more drought-resistant. Use a watering can or drip irrigation system to direct water to the base of the plants to ensure moist soil or well-drained soil.
  • Mulching: Covering the soil around your plants with a layer of mulch helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use organic materials like wood chips, straws, or leaves to create a natural and sustainable mulch.
  • Fertilizing: Choose slow-release fertilizers that provide nutrients over a longer period, rather than quick-release fertilizers that can burn plants and leach into the soil. Use organic fertilizers like compost or bone meal to feed your plants naturally.
  • Pruning: Regularly prune your plants to remove dead or damaged branches, promote healthy growth, and maintain a tidy appearance. Use sharp pruning shears and cut at a 45-degree angle to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Weeding: Remove weeds as soon as you see them to prevent them from taking over your garden. Use a hoe or hand tool to pull weeds out by the roots, and avoid using chemical herbicides that can harm beneficial insects and wildlife.
By following these tips, you can create a low-maintenance backyard garden that thrives with minimal effort. Enjoy the beauty and relaxation of your garden without worrying about spending all your time on maintenance.

Create A Beautiful Outdoor Space With Minimal Effort and Time

A low-maintenance bunch of purple flowers with green leaves for a backyard garden.
Creating a low-maintenance backyard garden is not only easy but also affordable. By selecting the right plants, you can enjoy a beautiful garden without spending much time and energy maintaining it. And with the proper care and attention, these plants will thrive in your garden and provide a relaxing and colourful outdoor space that you can enjoy year-round. So, start planning your low-maintenance garden today and transform your backyard into an oasis of tranquillity and beauty.

Curb Wise