Low Maintenance Plants: Easy Care Plants For Outdoors With Pictures For Easy Identification

Low-maintenance plants are perfect for growing in garden landscapes that need little care. Easy-to-grow shrubs, flowers, perennials, and ground cover plants make your garden beautiful all year long. Easy care plants like evergreen shrubs, long-blooming decorative bushes, and perennial plants provide plenty of interest. Generally, low-maintenance plants are tolerant of drought, sun, shade, and various soil types. These versatile landscaping plants are ideal for flower beds, front of house plantings, borders, and privacy hedges.

The purpose of low-maintenance landscaping plants is to reduce the amount of work it takes to care for a garden. For example, evergreen ground cover plants spread over bare soil and prevent weeds. Evergreen shrubs mean there are no autumn leaves to gather in the fall. Planting ornamental perennial shrubs gives you colorful flowers from spring until fall.

This article is a guide to easy care plants and shrubs that thrive in most garden landscapes. In addition to the best low maintenance shrubs, you’ll find helpful information on where to grow low-maintenance plants in your front or back yard.

What are Low-Maintenance Landscaping Plants?

Low-maintenance landscaping plants generally look after themselves. The best easy-care plants are drought-tolerant perennials that don’t require much pruning or feeding. Many deciduous shrubs and evergreen bushes can also be considered as low maintenance plants as they require minimal care. Whether growing as ground cover, edging plants, foundation plantings, or landscaping shrubs, low-maintenance plants fill gardens with color.

There are a few things to consider when choosing the best low-maintenance outdoor plants for your yard.

First is sun requirements. Look for garden plants that thrive in full sun or partial shade. However, if you have a shaded garden, then plants for shade will grow best where there’s little direct sunlight.

Another consideration is the height of the plant. To reduce pruning and care to a minimum, choose shrubs that don’t grow more than between 3 or 6 ft. (1 – 2 m) tall.

Finally, choose types of landscaping plants that don’t cause a mess. Many kinds of deciduous garden shrubs have small leaves that are not difficult to clear in the fall. Of course, with evergreen landscaping bushes, you never have problems with a garden clean-up.

Low-Maintenance Flowering Shrubs With Pictures For Easy Identification

Let’s look in more detail at the best easy-care flowering shrubs for front of house plantings, borders, or mixed flower beds.

Mohave Pyracantha (Pyracantha x ‘Mohave’)

Mohave Pyracantha (Pyracantha x ‘Mohave’)

Mohave Pyracantha is a versatile evergreen flowering low maintenance landscaping shrub for front or backyard

The Mohave pyracantha is a fast-growing, easy-care flowering shrub with lush evergreen foliage and masses of white flower clusters in spring. Also called the firethorn shrub, Mohave pyracantha shrubs produce red or orange berries in the fall. This low-maintenance shrub doesn’t drop its leaves in the fall.

Mohave pyracantha is a low maintenance plant that grows best when planted as an evergreen hedge or privacy screen. The thorny branches also help keep intruders out of your property when it’s grown as a security hedge. Its upright growth and bushy appearance also make the firethorn shrub an ideal foundation plant for the front of the house.

USDA zones: 6 – 9

Height and spread: 6 to 12 ft. (1.8 – 3.2 m) tall and wide

Light exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Korean Barberry (Berberis koreana)

Berberis koreana

Berberis koreana is an easy care semi-evergreen landscaping plant that provides year round interest

The Korean barberry is a low maintenance hardy deciduous flowering shrub with beautiful golden yellow flowers and red berries. This low-maintenance, fast-growing flowering shrub is tolerant of drought and only requires minimal pruning. The Korean barberry plant quickly grows into multi-stemmed clumps with dense foliage consisting of oval green leaves.

Korean barberry are easy care shrubs that grow best as foundation plantings or as an informal barrier, thorny privacy screen, or hedge. You can also grow the Korean barberry shrub as an easy care specimen plant or massed along borders.

USDA zones: 3 – 7 

Height and spread: 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m) tall and wide

Light exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Japanese Skimmia (Skimmia Japonica)

Skimmia Japonica Japanese Skimmias

Skimmia Japonica is a small flowering evergreen shrub that is low maintenance and loves shade

The Japanese Skimmia is an easy care ornamental evergreen shrub that is ideal for growing in the shade. This low maintenance flowering shrub is identified by its conical clusters of pinkish-red fragrant flowers, leathery lance-shaped leaves, and bright red berries. Japanese Skimmia is a colorful, easy-to-grow plant that provides year-long interest in a front or backyard.

The best place to grow Japanese skimmia is along shrub borders, in front of house, or as a flowering evergreen hedge plant. This low-maintenance shade-loving plant can tolerate full sun if the ground is kept damp.

USDA zones: 6 – 8

Height and spread: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) wide

Light exposure: Partial shade to full shade

Small Hydrangea Shrubs (Hydrangea macrophylla)

hydrangeas

Choose a small variety of hydrangea shrub as a low maintenance front of house flowering plant

Dwarf hydrangeas are low-maintenance deciduous shrubs with rounded growth, lush green leaves, and huge flower heads. Small hydrangea shrubs bloom in beautiful pastel colors of blue, pink, white, and lavender. Easy-care hydrangea bushes are known for their large glossy leaves, long-blooming times, and low maintenance requirements.

Hydrangea shrubs are ideal easy to grow landscaping plants for the front of house or massed together to create a flowering hedgerow. One bonus of planting hydrangea shrubs is that their cut flowers last a long time in floral displays.

USDA zones: 5 – 9

Height and spread: 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall and wide.

Light exposure: Partial shade to full shade

Azalea (Rhododendron)

Azalea (Rhododendron)

Dwarf azalea or rhododendrons are easy care landscaping bushes with stunning colorful flowers

Azalea plants are easy-to-care-for deciduous shrubs that thrive in shaded conditions. Azalea shrubs are famous for their showy colorful flowers that can grow up to 6” (15 cm) wide. Rhododendron shrubs are easily grown in most soil types and bloom during late spring and early summer. Some of the cold-hardiest shrubs, azaleas can withstand temperatures as low as -25°F (-32°C).

As large ornamental shrubs, azalea (rhododendron) plants are ideal for background plantings. You can also grow the trouble-free landscaping Azalea shrubs in mixed borders, shade gardens, or a dense flowering hedgerow.

USDA zones: 4 – 8, and some cold-hardy azaleas thrive in zone 3

Height and spread: 2 to 6 ft. (0.6 – 1.8 m) tall and wide, depending on the cultivar

Light exposure: Dappled sunlight

Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica)

Virginia Sweetspire is a low growing easy care plant – great plant for landscaping compact spaces

The Virginia sweetspire is a semi-evergreen or deciduous shrub with willow-like leaves and spectacular fragrant white flowers that look like bottlebrushes. A feature of Virginia sweetspire is its arching branches, giving the bush a weeping look. When blooming in spring, white conical flower clusters cover the dense foliage.

As an easy-care landscaping shrub, Virginia sweetspire thrives in full sun or full shade. The shrub has average water needs and tolerates wet or damp soils. This landscaping bush grows well near ponds or can grow as a hedge or flowering ground cover.

USDA zones: 5 – 9 

Height and spread: 3 – 10 ft. (1 – 3 m)

Light exposure: Full sun to complete shade

Dwarf Blooming Lilac (Syringa)

Syringa meyeri 'Palibin' Dwarf Blooming Lilac

Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ is a dwarf Korean lilac bush for small gardens as it grows to around 4-5 ft. (1.2-1.5 m) tall

Dwarf lilac shrubs don’t require much care to bloom throughout the summer with purple or pink flowers. Also called Bloomerang lilac, this compact, small shrub has a rounded growth habit, showy flower clusters, and small, pretty leaves. The only care dwarf lilac shrubs need are average watering and deadheading the flowers to promote prolific blooming.

As a low-maintenance garden shrub, blooming lilac bushes are resistant to disease and thrive in full sun. Dwarf lilac shrubs grow best in perennial shrub borders, foundation plantings, or in containers as a patio plant.

USDA zones: 3 – 7 

Height and spread: 4 – 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m)

Light exposure: Full sun

Low-Maintenance Evergreen Shrubs With Pictures For Easy Identification

Evergreen shrubs are ideal landscaping plants to keep color in your garden throughout the year. Some evergreen hedging plants don’t bloom, whereas others produce inconspicuous flowers.

Here are some of the best low maintenance evergreen shrubs.

Boxwood Plants (Buxus)

English Boxwood

Boxwood is a popular low maintenance evergreen shrub which can be pruned to decorative shapes

Boxwood is a genus of slow-growing, low-maintenance evergreen shrubs. The easy care plants are identified by their small glossy green flowers and dense foliage. Depending on the cultivar, boxwood are landscaping plants that have a rounded growth or upright, columnar growth. The tough, hardy, easy-to-grow boxwood plants keep your garden looking green throughout the winter.

Boxwood is listed as an easy-care landscaping plant because it’s drought-tolerant, thrives in the sun or shade, and grows in most soils. Grow this versatile shrub along borders, in mixed beds, or as a stylish hedgerow in formal gardens. You can also grow columnar boxwood plants at the corner of a house or foundation planting.

USDA zones: 5 – 8

Height and spread: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m) tall and wide. Columnar boxwood shrubs grow between 5 and 15 ft. (1.5 – 4.5 m) tall.

Light exposure: Full sun, partial shade, or full shade

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)

Euonymus fortunei shrubs

The colorful foliage of small evergreen Euonymus shrubs add ornamental element to any garden. Cultivars shown (left to right): ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’, ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and ‘Moonshadow’

Wintercreeper is a simple, low-growing, ground cover plant that is virtually maintenance-free. Wintercreeper is known for its attractive foliage with variegated yellow and green or white and green ovate leaves. The evergreen shrub has a spreading habit and quickly covers bare ground.

As a low-maintenance landscaping plant, wintercreeper grows in most types of soil. This versatile spreading plant is ideal for edging, as trailing ground cover, or a low-growing hedge. You can also train the vigorous plant to climb walls to cover unsightly garden features.

USDA zones: 5 – 9

Height and spread: 1 – 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall and up to 4 ft. (1.2 m wide)

Light exposure: Full sun to full shade

Related reading: The top low-maintenance shrubs for easy gardening.

Low-Maintenance Perennial Plants With Pictures For Easy Identification

To fill your garden landscape with stunning colors, easy-care perennials are perfect for most front or backyards.

Here are some of the best low maintenance perennial plants.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Black-eyed Susans are resilient flowering perennials that can be planted at the back of flower beds or borders

Black-eyed Susan is a tall perennial that is easy to grow in heat, dry soil, and full sun. Black-eyed Susan’s identifying feature is the unmissable yellow daisy-like flowers that are 3” (7 cm) wide. The spectacular flowers sit on the top of tall, slender stems. This simple landscaping plant has large lanceolate leaves growing at the base of the stem.

Black-eyed Susan grows best in mixed borders, at the back of flower beds, or in cottage gardens.

USDA zones: 3 – 7

Height and spread: 2 to 3 ft. (0.6 – 1 m) tall and 1 ft. (0.3 m) wide

Light exposure: Full sun

Perennial Coneflowers (Echinacea)

coneflower (echinacea)

Coneflowers are drought tolerant perennials with flowers that attract pollinators and make excellent cut flowers

Coneflower is a species of hardy perennial flowers that easily grow in most landscapes. Coneflowers have daisy-like ray flowers with slender pink petals that droop downward. As easy-care flowering plants, coneflowers survive drought periods, hot sun and are resistant to most pests and diseases.

Coneflowers bloom a long time from spring until the first frost. These tall herbaceous perennials are ideal for mass plantings, mixed beds, and perennial borders.

USDA zones: 3 – 10

Height and spread: 1 to 4 ft. (0.3 – 1.2 m) tall and up to 2 ft. (0.6) wide

Light exposure: Full sun or partial shade

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Gayfeather (Liatris spicata): Care, Growing Guide

Blazing stars have immense ornamental value as easy-care, low-maintenance summer plants

Blazing star is a low-maintenance, clump-forming perennial plant with stunning bottlebrush purple flowers. As a tall ornamental plant, blazing star has leafy stems with purple flower spikes growing at the end. The tufted flower heads add beautiful purple colors to summer gardens. Also called gayfeather, this easy-care perennial grows in most landscapes.

Blazing star is a low maintenance flowering plant that tolerates all weather conditions—heat, cold, drought, and poor soils. Grow the flowering perennial along borders, in cottage gardens, or patio containers.

USDA zones: 3 – 9

Height and spread: 3 to 4 ft. (1 – 1.2 m)

Light exposure: Full sun

Plantain Lily (Hosta)

Plantain Lily (Hosta)

Hosta plants are hardy and are mainly grown in the shade for their attractive foliage

Plantain lily (Hosta) is a species of low-growing, easy-care perennial plants with sizeable broadly ovate or nearly round leaves. The spectacular feature of Hosta is its large, striking foliage. The most attractive plantain lily plants have variegated leaves that can be white and green or yellow and green. Although it’s a flowering plant, hostas are grown for their dramatic foliage.

Plantain lily is one of the best ground cover plants for full shade. Its hardy, low-maintenance growth means you can plant it and almost forget about it.

USDA zones: 3 – 8

Height and spread: 1 – 2 ft. (0.3 – 0.6 m) tall and 5 to 6 ft. (1.5 – 1.8) ft. wide

Light exposure: Partial to full shade

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Heuchera plants require little care and include many cultivars with colorful foliage

Coral bells is a low maintenance perennial plant that tolerates most growing conditions. The coral bells plant (Heuchera) is known for its stunning, colorful foliage. Although coral bells produce flowers, it’s the leaves that make this evergreen plant popular. Leaves can be silvery-blue, yellow, black, orange, neon green, and fiery red.

Depending on the species, the easy-care ground cover, clumping foliage plant grows best in full sun or partial shade. Grow coral bells in rock gardens, in containers, along borders, or to add colorful foliage to mixed beds

USDA zones: 4 – 9 

Height and spread: 0.5 to 1 ft. (17 – 30 cm) tall and 2 ft. (0.6 m) wide

Light exposure: Full sun, partial shade, or full shade—depending on the cultivar

Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants to Prevent Weeds (With Pictures)

To make gardening more manageable, it’s a great idea to plant easy-care ground cover plants that prevent weeds from growing.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox Subulata)

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata)

Phlox are low maintenance and easy to grow blooming perennials for sunny areas

Creeping phlox is a vigorous, creeping ground cover evergreen perennial plant with star-shaped flowers and glossy, dark green foliage. Creeping phlox grows easily to cover ground and prevent weeds. When in bloom in spring, the spreading mat-forming plant bursts into pink, purple, white, and red flowers.

Creeping phlox grows best in rock gardens, along walkways, at border fronts, or among other flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. This Phlox species is perfect for full-sun ground cover.

USDA zones: 2 – 9

Height and spread: 4” to 6” (10 – 15 cm) tall and up to 2 ft. (60 cm) wide

Light exposure: Full sun

Speedwell (Veronica umbrosa)

veronica umbrosa speedwell

Speedwells are easy to care for flowering perennial plants that prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil

Speedwell is a non-invasive, low maintenance ground cover plant that has fast growth. Speedwell plants quickly form a low mat of lush green glossy foliage that’s ideal for low-maintenance ground cover in full sun. One outstanding feature of low-growing speedwells is their dainty blue flowers that bloom in early spring.

Speedwell is an ideal easy care plant for ground cover along borders, under-planting shrubs, containers, or colorful edging.

USDA zones: 4 – 9 

Height and spread: up to 6” (15 cm) high and 18 – 24″ wide (45 – 60 cm)

Light exposure: Full sun

Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants for Full Sun – With Pictures For Easy Identification

Easy care, low-growing creeping plants for full sun are ideal for covering bare ground and withstand drought and heat.

Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping Flowering Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping thyme is a drought tolerant fast growing ground cover plant that thrives in full sun with minimal care

Also called mother of thyme, this creeping flowering evergreen produces beautiful flowers in full sun. When in bloom, creeping thyme has flowers in pink, white, magenta, or purple colors. As a low-maintenance ground cover plant, creeping thyme grows without much effort, apart from light pruning to control its growth.

Creeping thyme grows best as a ground cover plant in sunny gardens with well-draining ground.

USDA zones: 4 – 9

Height and spread: 1” to 2” (2.5 – 5 cm) and up to 2 ft. (60 cm) wide

Light exposure: Full sun

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)

Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina)

Lamb’s ear is a decorative easy to grow ground cover plant with textured leaves and flower spikes

‘Lamb’s ears’ is a delightful evergreen perennial plant with fuzzy silvery-gray leaves that resemble a lamb’s ear. The tongue-shaped furry leaves provide plenty of interest throughout the year. Also, purple flower spikes bloom in spring and summer to add color to a garden landscape.

As a low-maintenance plant, ‘lamb’s ears’ is tolerant of drought and doesn’t require much watering. This plant grows best as ground cover for full sun or to accent borders or edging.

USDA zones: 4 – 10

Height and spread: 0.5 to 2 ft. (15 cm – 60 cm) tall and 3 ft. (1 m) wide

Light exposure: Full sun

Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants for Shade – With Pictures For Easy Identification

If you have a shaded garden or many trees and shrubs in your landscape, you may need to plant easy ground cover plants for shade.

Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff (galium odoratum)

Sweet Woodruff has scented foliage and grows fast as a ground cover in shady locations

Sweet woodruff is a flowering perennial plant that grows in the shade, forming a mat of light green foliage and white flowers. The vanilla-scented white flowers bloom in spring and transform shaded areas into a white floral carpet. Another feature of sweet woodruff is the fragrant lance-shaped leaves that smell like freshly cut hay.

Sweet woodruff doesn’t require any care as it quickly spreads to cover the ground. It grows best in shaded gardens as ground cover, under perennial shrubs, or edging along pathways.

USDA zones: 4 – 8

Height and spread: 6” (15 cm) tall and up to 12” (30 cm) wide

Light exposure: Shade

Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podagraria)

Bishop’s Weed

Bishop’s Weed is a fast growing ground cover plant to grow in a shady part of your garden

Bishop’s weed is a fast-growing spreading plant that grows best in partial to full shade. The vigorous growth of bishop’s weed means this plant spreads with ease. However, this feature causes it to be invasive in some areas. Bishop’s weed creates a dense ground canopy of carrot-scented leaves and clusters of small white flowers.

Bishop’s weed grows best as a perennial ground cover plant for shade gardens. It’s good to remember that if you don’t want bishop’s weed in your garden, or if it grows out of control, it can become a high-maintenance plant.

USDA zones: 3 – 10

Height and spread: 6” – 3 ft. (15 – 90 cm) tall and up to 2 ft. (60 cm) wide

Light exposure: Partial to full shade

Low-Maintenance Annual Flowers With Pictures For Easy Identification

Low-Maintenance Annual Flowers

Beautiful colorful low-maintenance annual flowers – clockwise from top left: Sweet Alyssum, Zinnia, Marigold and Petunia

To add color to your garden, many annual flowering plants don’t take much effort to grow. Here are some of the best easy-care annual flowers.

Here are some of the best low maintenance annual flowers:

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)—A popular easy-care edging plant with tiny white or pink-purple flowers in clusters. This self-sowing variety grows and flowers year after year.

Zinnia—Stunning easy-to-grow annual plants with large, showy flowers in colors such as orange, deep pink, red, white, and yellow.

Petunias—Popular for hanging baskets, petunias produce masses of showy flowers on trailing stems with ease. Expect petunia cultivars to bloom from spring until fall.

Marigold (Tagetes)—Flowering easy annual plants with showy yellow or orange flowers on the top of long stems that grow in most conditions.

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