How Much Does Landscape Design Cost?Highlights
Want to revamp your lawn and garden?
A landscape designer can create the perfect oasis. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.+
Coming home to an eye-catching yard requires quite a bit of planning and landscaping expertise. According to Rosemarie Miner, founding principal at Our Temenos, an ecological design studio based in the Northeast, "Small changes to staple design elements, such as plant selection, the overall layout and hardscaping materials, can have a humongous impact on the quality of life that your garden attracts and supports." While this can be a DIY project, many homeowners choose to invest in professional landscaping design to help with both the softscaping (grass, flowers, plants, trees, gardens) and hardscaping (pathways, patios, pergolas, steps).
The best landscaping companies can offer design, installation, and even maintenance services. For just the design piece, both landscape architects and landscape designers can help turn a homeowner's vision of an outdoor oasis into reality. The difference is that landscape architects must have a college degree and a state license, and they generally work on more complex residential projects, whereas landscape designers typically only need an associate degree and tend to work on small-scale residential projects.
According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, professional landscape design costs between $1,944 and $7,213, with a national average cost of $4,571. When a homeowner hires a professional, they will provide a plan that includes 2D drawings and/or dynamic 3D renderings of the new outdoor space. This will help the homeowner understand the materials to be used and their placement in the yard. A landscape designer or landscape architect costs between $50 and $150 per hour, and design plans can range anywhere from $300 to $15,000, with most being under $6,000.Factors in Calculating Landscape Design Cost
Several key factors can influence the total cost of a landscape design project. While the national average cost of landscape design is nearly $5,000 for a complete landscape design, the final cost for each homeowner will depend on location, size and complexity of the project, project type, soil testing, and materials chosen. Plus, the homeowner's selection of the designer can influence the price based on their level of experience, their availability during certain times of year, and the fee structure they use.Project Size and Complexity
There's no question that larger, more complex landscaping projects are going to have higher price tags. Yards with circular edges, odd-shaped lawns, and slopes or hills are more difficult to measure and will cost more. If regrading or leveling is required, homeowners can expect to pay an additional $1,000 to $3,000 for labor and equipment. The following are some ranges for landscaping costs based on project size.Project Size Cost Per Square Foot Basic $4 to $6 Intermediate $6 to $10 Complex $10 to $40 Fee Structure
Depending on how the designer charges for services, the total cost of a project can fluctuate. Consultation hourly rates typically range from $50 to $200; this can include the initial consultation time as well as the time it takes to develop and revise design plans. Fees for designers who charge per design run between $300 and $15,000, with most averaging about $6,000.
However, other landscape designers might work using the following fee structures:
The specific landscaping material chosen for a home, which are in addition to design costs, can guide the final cost of the job. Experienced landscape designers recommend materials that best fit within the design concept, the look of the home, the homeowner's budget, and the local area. Costs vary based on the location of the home, local vendor fees, inflation, and supply chain issues. If a homeowner wants some special features, the price is affected as well: A pond costs $1,300 to $5,000, a pergola or trellis is $2,000 to $5,000, and a deck ranges from $4,000 to $10,000. What follows are cost ranges for some common landscape design supplies.Supply Cost Range Sod $0.30 to $0.80 per square foot Brick $10 to $14 per square foot Stone $8 to $15 per square foot Crushed stone $27 to $64 per ton Paver $3 to $15 per square foot Pea gravel $40 to $95 per ton Designer Experience Level
The cost of a landscape designer or architect can vary depending on the credentials and amount of experience they have. Typical landscape design fees per hour range from $50 to $150, but someone with years of project experience and an impressive portfolio can demand in the $200-per-hour range for their services. The cost of landscape architect services tends to be higher because of their education and certifications. For homeowners looking to save money, hiring a newer landscape designer may be the way to go. Just because they have fewer years in the field doesn't mean lower-quality work.
Your dream lawn and garden are just a click away
A landscape designer can create the perfect oasis. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.+ Time of Year
Because landscaping is a seasonal service in many regions, there is a higher demand for landscape design work in spring and summer. Therefore, prices may be higher when designers are busiest. One potential way for homeowners to save money is to start working with a landscape designer in their off-season, such as the middle of winter. Of course, this depends on the local climate; in areas like California and Florida, landscaping can be a year-round business.Soil Testing
The soil makeup of a yard is an important factor in the design and maintenance of landscaping. The type of soil, as well as pH levels, can influence which plants the designer chooses for the plan and the plants' ability to thrive. Landscape designers often test the soil for acidity level, nutrients, and drainage during a site visit. This service can range between $10 and $200. Homeowners will want to check to see if this cost is included in the consultation fees.Landscape Design Cost by Type of Project
Every type of garden requires different design methods and materials that can impact costs. The design of a small basic garden will vary greatly from the design of a larger, more complex project and even more so if xeriscaping (sustainable landscaping) is involved. Many factors play a role in the type of garden chosen, such as the local climate, available space, native plant options, and budget. The cost for each of these design projects varies, as evidenced by the chart below.Project Type Cost Range Residential garden $0.05 to $0.15 per square foot Small garden $0.05 to $0.75 per square foot Xeriscape and environmental garden $200 per hour Residential Garden Design
A typical garden design for a residential home ranges from $0.05 to $0.15 per square foot. It does not matter what type of garden goes in; it can be a butterfly garden or vegetable garden for this same rate. These fees are generally lower than for the average landscape design project. However, more complex and challenging garden plans that require extensive knowledge, planning, and skills—such as a Japanese garden or authentic English garden—cost much more. The price for a complex residential landscape design can climb to as high as $15,000.Small Garden Design
Small gardens with a simple design are on the lower end of the price scale. According to Miner, "A seasoned landscape designer has likely seen it all! If you are trying to garden on a patio, a rooftop or in a back alley, there is sure to be a professional who has overcome the challenges these smaller spaces present."
To design a quarter-acre landscape with basic native plants and maybe a stone path, homeowners can expect to pay about $500. To plant some trees and install a patio, a backyard designer will probably charge $50 to $150 per hour for a 1- to 2-hour consultation during the design process. Although the price to design a small garden depends on location, complexity, and size, in general the cost per square foot plus installation ranges from $5 to $20, with design costs alone ranging from $0.05 to $0.75 per square foot.Xeriscape and Environmental Garden Design
As one of the pricier landscape approaches, xeriscaping entails designing and planting an outdoor space in a sustainable manner. The goal is to use less water and avoid fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Native and water-efficient plants and structures are also chosen to reduce watering, fertilizing, and maintenance. While these design elements provide an aesthetically pleasing landscape and ultimately reduce costs in the long run, a landscape designer will typically charge about $200 per hour for the design work. For the entire yard, this can add up to between $10,000 and $30,000.Benefits of Hiring for Landscape Design
A successful landscape design plan can be a costly and time-consuming project, but it can also make a property more aesthetically pleasing, calming, and valuable. Not only can improved landscaping increase a homeowner's enjoyment of their outdoor space, but it can also enhance curb appeal (and home value), make the best use of the space, and provide environmental benefits.Space Optimization
Yards can end up looking empty and neglected, but a well-planned design can result in a haven for homeowners to be proud of. Thoughtful landscaping utilizes the open space in the best way possible, making it more attractive and functional. Optimizing outdoor areas with smart landscaping can breathe new life into a property, adding color, greenery, and more places to sit back and relax.Environmental Preservation
Landscape design is linked to environmental protection. Good plant choices can increase biodiversity to attract more birds and pollinators to a yard. Careful selection of plants can also lead to cleaner air and more nutrient-dense soil. Incorporating ground cover as an alternative to grass and flowers in parts of the yard can prevent erosion and deter weeds from growing. Finally, adding rain gardens and no-mow areas can help filter water. Figuring out these details can get overwhelming for homeowners, so hiring a landscape designer is beneficial, since they are familiar with the local ecosystem and can point to plants and materials that are gentler on the environment.
"If saving water is a concern and you have a lawn, consider removing all or a portion of it," advises Miner. "That may sound extreme but in the land of lawns, so few Americans are outside using them. Instead create a special pollinator patch that you would enjoy watching from the porch or patio."Health Benefits
Attentive landscaping can boost quality of life. Nature provides many health benefits like stress reduction, so a well-designed yard can provide a serene sanctuary without requiring a homeowner to leave the property. Just gazing at lush greenery and vivid flowers calms many people instantly. Also, by strategically placing plants and trees, a homeowner can create an oasis of privacy from neighbors and passersby.Improved Drainage
If designed properly, landscaping can improve the drainage of a yard. This also helps protect the property from water damage, while also ensuring that the landscaping lasts throughout the seasons. Some attractive landscaping tricks to improve drainage include edging the yard with plants and small rocks to direct the water; using plants, mulch, and rocks to absorb rainwater; adding paving materials that incorporate small gaps for water drainage; and designing a water source to direct water away from the house.Enhanced Curb Appeal
An attractive, professionally designed landscape can make a property more appealing to potential home buyers, which can result in increased value of the home. This is especially appealing if a homeowner is thinking about putting their home on the market, since the landscaping may encourage a potential buyer to make an offer. Even if they have no plans to move, coming home each day to a more aesthetically pleasing home can make a homeowner feel happier and proud of where they live.
Ready to invest in your lawn and garden?
A landscape designer can create the perfect oasis for you. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from services near you.+ Landscape Design: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While some homeowners can handle their own gardening and landscaping projects, landscape design is a bit more complicated and often requires special training, design tools, and/or guidance from a professional. An experienced landscaping designer knows how to use design software to develop plans and has the knowledge and expertise regarding specific plants, irrigation requirements, sustainability, soil conditions, local climate, hardscaping, and other details. Many people are concerned about the investment required to hire someone for backyard landscape design, but working with an expert can ultimately help save time and money (and reduce stress) in the long run, since landscaping is much more complicated than most people realize.
If a homeowner searches for "design your own landscaping," they will find several of the best landscape design software options available online. These tools can help homeowners visualize and lay out an outdoor space, including where to plant flowers, shrubbery, and trees, and ways to create walkways, decks, and other outdoor amenities. The best programs for novice DIYers include intuitive functions like click-and-drag features and a library of plants and other materials to help offer design inspiration. Both free and paid programs are available, but the free ones have limited features. Paid versions range from $40 to $200.
For those who want to take the project one step further, the best online landscape design courses are available for homeowners wanting to learn more about designing their backyard. There are even opportunities to earn certification. Classes range from free online landscape design courses to post-baccalaureate programs at the best landscape architecture schools; these courses can take years, so the prices vary significantly. A single course that takes a few hours typically costs around $50, while a multicourse program at an accredited university can cost as much as $25,000.How to Save Money on Landscape Design Cost
With such a wide range of design possibilities and related costs depending on factors like size of the project, season, materials used, and location, homeowners will benefit from some tips for keeping costs down and getting the best deal possible. When choosing an outdoor designer and planning an affordable landscaping project, consider the following options for keeping costs under control.
Having all the information about the project up front will help homeowners avoid any miscommunication and misdirection once the design process begins. They can refer to the following sample questions when they speak with local landscape designers about residential landscape plans and the cost of their services.
When homeowners are deciding which type of landscape design approach to move forward with, it is important for them to ask the right questions and to understand what they will pay for their specific project. Fees will depend on size and complexity of the landscaping, materials used, type of garden, and local considerations like soil conditions, among other factors. Knowing how much it will cost on average and whether the price is negotiable will reduce the risk of homeowners getting a surprise bill. For those just beginning to think about landscape design, the following are a few questions that may come up.Q. What should I consider before hiring a landscape designer?
Deciding which landscape designer to hire can be overwhelming. Before signing a contract, homeowners will want to find out the designer's credentials and experience, their pricing structure, the exact services they provide, the amount of time the project will take, and the type of involvement the homeowner will have.Q. Will a good landscape design increase my home value?
Yes. Experts suggest that good landscape design can increase home value between 5.5 percent and 12.7 percent compared to a property with no landscaping. That turns out to be a value of about $16,500 to $38,100 for a $300,000 home. The projects that offer the most financial reward include sophisticated design elements, mature trees and greenery, and xeriscaping.Q. How much does it cost to landscape 2,000 square feet?
The complexity of the project will influence the total cost, but basic landscaping design typically costs about $4 to $6 per square foot, or $8,000 to $12,000 for an outdoor space totaling 2,000 square feet. The most complex landscape projects with a full tear-out and remodel range in price from $10 to $40 per square foot, which is $20,000 to $80,000 for 2,000 square feet. However, a very simple butterfly or vegetable garden costs from $0.03 to $0.10 per square foot, which is only $60 to $200 for a 2,000-square-foot area.Q. Can I negotiate the prices for landscape design?
Most of the time there is some room for negotiation on the price of a landscape design project as long as the ask is reasonable. A designer might agree to reduce their fee by 2 percent to 3 percent, but not much more than that. Also, homeowners will want to be mindful of the time of year and the amount of business the landscape designer is likely to have. If they are backed up during a hectic time like the spring, they will be less open to negotiating the price; a homeowner might have more luck in the middle of the winter.Q. Can I pay for a small part of my yard to be landscaped as opposed to the entire yard?
In order to save some money, a homeowner can choose to work on the design of part of their yard rather than the whole yard. Maybe they want to do the project in phases to fit their budget, such as paying the cost to install a new lawn in the front yard first, then the backyard, and finally the sides of the house. It's worth remembering that cost per square foot varies depending on the complexity of the project and materials required.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Lawn Love, LawnStarter, Ross NW Watergardens
Find trusted local pros for any home project+
7 Best Small Trees For A Compact Yard
Even in a small yard, adding a tree will provide vertical interest and welcome shade on those warm sunny days. But when you don't have a lot of space, it's important to avoid something that'll grow really tall and block out all the available light.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of small trees to choose from. But if you can only have one, it's nice to choose a flowering tree, so you can enjoy some springtime color or a fruiting tree that'll reward you with tasty produce. Besides, these trees are also great for attracting birds and pollinating insects to your garden.
Planting a tree is a lovely way to add height and impact to a garden, plus it's a great way to help create some privacy. A carefully positioned tree can block out a neighbor's view of your patio or simply make your small yard feel like more of a sanctuary.
Here are just seven options and if you want more advice, we recommend reading about these 7 plants to create privacy in your backyard or the best trees to grow in containers.1. Japanese Maple or Acer (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Japanese maple trees are a species of Acer and there are plenty of varieties to choose from including dwarf trees that are suited to particularly small yards. These trees are beloved for their beautiful elegant leaves, with some varieties displaying fantastically vivid shades of red, or orange throughout the entire growing season.
A Japanese maple can add a welcome flush of color amongst a sea of green leaves. They are slow growing and many stay just a few feet tall. So it's not the best choice if you're looking for a small tree to add some instant privacy.
Most Japanese maples are hardy enough for USDA zones 5-8. But obviously it's worth double checking the recommendations for the variety you intend to buy. They like shady, sheltered spots, without too much bright sunlight or wind.2. Fruit trees (Image credit: Shutterstock)
We're kind of cheating by bundling all fruit trees together here. But whether an apple, pear, plum, or cherry tree, what's better than the joy of plucking fresh organic fruit from your own tree? Well, actually, the spring blossom on these trees is reason alone to choose a fruit tree.
Most fruit trees don't grow higher than about 20ft, but if that's too tall, there are of course smaller and dwarf varieties that'll grow 8- 10 feet.
The type of fruit tree you choose will depend on two things; what fruit you enjoy eating, and where you live. For example most cherry trees thrive in USDA zones 4-7. While some apple trees are hardy enough for zones 3-5. So you'll have to do a bit of homework, but it'll be worth it when you're rewarded with an abundance of delicious fruit crops.3. Bay tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)
The bay tree or bay laurel is a sun loving tree that's native to the Mediterranean. It'll give your yard a dreamy European feel, but since this tree prefers warmer climates, it'll do best in USDA hardiness zones 7-10.
By pruning a bay tree, you can keep it to the exact size and shape that you prefer. It makes a great ornamental topiary tree in a manicured and precise garden design. If you want to use the leaves in your culinary creations, make sure you buy one of the Laurus nobilis varieties.
If left alone, some bay tree varieties will grow very tall. But bay trees are slow growing trees so with a yearly prune with the best pruning shears, you can easily keep it under control. And this evergreen tree will look lovely and green year round, so you won't even need to get the leaf blower out in the fall.
Today's best Felco Model 12 Secateurs deals4. Crape Myrtle (Image credit: Shutterstock)
With its beautiful blooms providing a showy display from July to September, the Crape Myrtle, becomes a colorful focal point after the spring flowers have faded. The flower color varies depending on the particular crape myrtle you choose, but shades range from white to pink, purple and reds.
There's a variety to suit most different size yards, some dwarf varieties can be kept as low as 5 feet tall, while larger trees can reach heights of 20 - 30 feet. Some varieties grow more like a shrub, while others grow as either a single or multiple trunk tree.
There are varieties to suit USDA zones 6-10. Though it should be noted that in some areas it can be quite an invasive plant, so check your area.5. Flowering Dogwood (Image credit: Shutterstock)
The star-shaped flowers produced by this small tree appear in early spring and give way to a reddish orange berry that's a popular snack for birds. It's a deciduous tree and the foliage turns a beautiful shade of purple and scarlet in the fall, so it provides plenty of color and interest from spring through fall.
Some varieties are more of a shrub while others form trees that'll grow up to 30 feet. Regarded as one of the best small flowering trees, it's a joy to have in your garden.
It'll work in USDA hardiness zones 5-9 and prefers a spot that's partially shady. There's no need to prune it, but you may have to grab the leaf blower in the fall.
Here are 5 things you need to know before buying a leaf blower and if you already own one, read our top tips on how to use a leaf blower.
Today's best ECHO PB-9010T Backpack Leaf Blower deals6. Fringe tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Just as the dogwood blossoms are fading, out come the fragrant delicate white blooms of the fringe tree. This small tree is native to the Southeastern US but is hardy from zones 3-9. The cloud-like lacey flowers are followed by purple berries that'll encourage birds and wildlife to pay you a visit.
The scent of the flowers is particularly notable for bringing additional joy to your yard. It's a great tree for a medium size garden. Even a very mature fringe tree won't usually grow taller than about 20 feet, though it can spread quite wide.
The fringe tree is pretty adaptable and is generally a low maintenance tree or shrub. The main downside is that those beautiful white flowers are only around for a couple of weeks.7. Olive tree (Image credit: Shutterstock)
Adding an olive tree to your yard will instantly add a hint of Mediterranean sunshine. But, the catch is, they love warmer Mediterranean style climates. So an olive tree is only really an option if you live in US planting zones 8-10.
If you are lucky enough to have the right conditions for growing an olive tree in your yard, it's a fantastic small tree to plant. Olive trees are fairly drought tolerant and prefer well-drained soil and a sunny location.
You'll need to prune it hard in late winter if you want it to produce fruit. Nevertheless the long slender leaves stay year round, so it'll look lovely even after all the other trees have lost their leaves in the fall.
If you're looking for something that'll grow quicky to add privacy and shade to your yard, we've picked out 7 fast-growing trees for shade and privacy.More from Tom's Guide
Today's best gardening gloves deals
The Invincible Yard: 25 Ideas For Lazy Landscaping
Some people love the backbreaking business of taking care of their lawn and garden. Then there's the rest of us: We'd rather relax and let our little piece of heaven largely take care of itself. Ahead, find easy landscaping ideas to make your outdoor space the envy of the neighborhood.1. Replace some lawn with functional hardscaping.
Less lawn equals less work. That's the best argument for hardscaping—that's the use of pavers, brick, or decorative stone. Whether you opt for a patio or lay garden paths, you'll have a durable surface that never needs weeding or watering, although you might want to sweep it occasionally. Options abound, from neat grids to a patchwork effect—great low-maintenance front yard landscaping is just a stone's throw away.
RELATED: 9 Ideas for a Beautiful Brick Patio2. Plant easy-care perennials.
Perennials are the gift that keeps on giving, season after season, unlike annuals, which you have to plant every year. Some perennials are more carefree than others, though. Forgetful gardeners will love the drought-tolerant pasqueflower or the delicate-looking but durable penstemon. For hot and dry climates, we like brilliant sedum, and, yes, yarrow (don't dare call it a weed!).
RELATED: 50 Plants That Thrive in Any Yard3. Opt for native plants throughout the landscape.
Plants adapted to their environments long before people did, so native species are a wise choice for the laid-back landscaper. Native plants require less fertilizer, water, pesticides, and overall care than plants brought in by settlers. To learn what will thrive in your neck of the woods, type "native plants" and your state into a search engine—you'll find tons of info.
RELATED: 34 Amazing Plants That Are Native to North America4. Lay some artificial turf.
Artificial grass has come a long way since your granddad's Astroturf. Today's synthetics, made of nylon or polymer, have varying heights and color gradations to look and feel more like the real thing. You can even plant a tree in it. Though pricey ($7 to $18 per square foot), your faux lawn will be absolutely fuss-free.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Artificial Grass5. Plant evergreen trees, shrubs, and ground covers.
What could be simpler than plants that keep their vivid, verdant color all year long? Put dwarf varieties into flower beds, set shrubs near your house to disguise the foundation, choose tall, columnar types for privacy—there are even creeping varieties for ground cover.
RELATED: 10 Evergreens to Beautify Your Garden Year-Round6. Use monkey grass for low-maintenance borders.
For interesting edges without the effort, try clumping monkey grass (Liriope muscari) along flower beds, borders, and walkways. This Asian native is hardy and stands up to dogs, deer, bugs, and weeds. As a bonus, it grows well in a variety of soils and climates. Monkey grass can grow to about 15 inches, so trim it if you wish or go long.
RELATED: 20 Plants to Use as Lawn and Garden Borders7. Select fewer trees and shrubs for less maintenance.
Here's a tip that's particularly relevant for those looking for small front yard landscaping ideas: Less is more. Rather than crowd a bed with lots of plants you'll need to tend, put in just a few high-impact, high-performance varieties. Planting one or two nice trees and some powerhouse perennials gives you more time to sack out in the hammock.
RELATED: 20 Tiny Backyards We Love8. Plant hardy succulents in sunny areas.
If watering falls low on your to-do list, succulents (like echeveria, agave, and sedum) are your garden go-tos. Tough, colorful, and captivating, they also play well with others, so mixing 'em up adds more excitement to your landscape. Drainage is key, however: Depending on your local soil, you might be better off putting these shallow-rooting, sun-loving plants in raised beds with porous, well-aerated soil.
RELATED: Solved! Why Are My Succulents Dying?9. Grow self-cleaning roses for color with little effort.
A rose by any other name probably isn't as easy as Knock Out roses. These set-'em-and-forget-'em flowers are heat-resistant, pretty much prune-free, and "self-cleaning"—you don't even have to deadhead them. Just use a good organic rose food in early spring, and follow up with foliar feedings (liquid fertilizer applied to the leaves) through the blooming season.10. Raise plants suited for your growing zone.
Remember to pick plants suited to your USDA hardiness zone. Anything too tender is destined to fail, and who needs the frustration? While you're at it, a soil test will diagnose your dirt and tell you what nutrients it might need to keep your plants low maintenance or help you select the best plants for your soil type. Your local extension office can help advise you, too.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Soil Test Kits11. Build paths or patios with gravel.
Strew irregularly shaped landscaping rocks around for the no-sweat simplicity of paving with a softer, more organic vibe. Gravel can be either man-made, which is ideal for high-traffic areas, or natural (smoother but less stable—so use where traffic is light). To keep the space looking spiffy, banish errant leaves as necessary with a wire-tined rake.
RELATED: The 9 Best Types of Gravel for Your Driveway12. Replace grass with no-effort ground covers.
Give your mowing muscles a rest—and lighten your water and fertilizer load—by swapping traditional turf for a no-effort ground cover. These plants create a pleasingly plush carpet, and there are enough varieties to suit just about any climate and traffic condition. Consider mat-forming creeping perennials like New Zealand brass buttons (Leptinella squalida), Scotch or Irish moss (Sagina subulata), or low-growing clover.13. Automate watering tasks.
Remembering to stay true to your watering routine can be tricky. Take steps to automate it so you're less apt to forget. If you have an irrigation system, set up the timer based on what's appropriate for the season. And if you don't have underground sprinklers, you can still automate the process by purchasing a timer that attaches to your hose bib. Your grass will thank you.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Sprinkler Controllers14. Choose low-maintenance shade trees.
When selecting trees for your landscape, choose those that are low maintenance to avoid having to spend your free time cleaning up a carpet of spent blooms, hickory hulls, or invasive seedlings. Opt for evergreens and standard shade trees that don't drop a lot of extras or reseed themselves all over the lawn.
RELATED: 10 of the Best Trees for Any Backyard15. Mulch fallen leaves with a mower.
Why spend hours and hours of your fall weekends raking leaves? Run over leaves with the lawn mower to make a mulch that will act like a superfood for your lawn. Keep the layer of mulched leaves no thicker than 1 inch to avoid creating thatch; use any extra to mulch garden beds.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Mulching Lawn Mowers16. Lay fabric barriers to cut down on weeding.
The more time you invest up front putting down weed barriers in your landscaping beds, the less time you'll spend battling the unwelcome plants later. Just be sure to choose fabric barriers that are permeable enough to let water run through, especially near any tree. Use the fabrics under gravel or mulch paths you add as well. Contending with fewer weeds equals more time relaxing with family and friends—it's a win-win.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Weeding Tools We Tested This Year17. Add maintenance-free rock mulch.
Want an easy way to cross a major spring and fall project off your to-do list? Replace organic material mulch like wood chips or pine straw with pea gravel or river rocks (or crusher fine in paths). These options require much less maintenance and don't need to be refreshed every year. For best results, aim for a 2- to 4-inch layer of rock, with the thinner layer for small-particled rock. If any weeds pop through, take the little bit of time needed to pull them right away. Once weeds go to seed, you can expect even more of the same next year.
RELATED: 8 Ways to Upgrade Your Backyard With Pavers
That timer on your hose or sprinkler system can automate lawn watering, but what about your garden beds and vegetable beds? A few tools can ease this burden. Start by laying out a soaker hose and covering it with a thin layer of mulch to protect it from the elements. Then set a reminder on your phone to run it as needed, or use an automatic hose timer.
Speed up your watering even more by investing in a quick connect system. This handy innovation makes it easier to thread hoses to soaker hoses and sprayers, or switch out watering tools. Install a male end on the soaker and sprayer and a female end on the main hose. When it's time to change watering tools, just pull back on the female end and pop it onto the connector.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Lawn Sprinklers19. Choose plants that make new plants.
Although some flowers grow only as annuals in your area, you might be able to save time by starting them the first year, and leaving them to self-seed so new plants just appear out of the ground spring after spring. Productive seeders worth consideration include colorful cosmos, California poppies, giant larkspur, nigella, and portulaca. On the herb side, try dill (a host for butterflies) and parsley. Best of all, it's your neglect that helps them reproduce. Leave the faded flowers on, especially toward the end of summer, to allow seeds to drop or blow in the wind and maybe even feed a few birds.
A similar strategy is to choose plants that spread via runners. Many good candidates are ground covers like creeping Jenny, but some edible plants, such as strawberries and mints, also send out runners and reroot. Leave them to spread as they will or control them as needed.
RELATED: Plant Propagation 101: Easy Techniques for Beginners20. Go ahead and repeat plants that work.
Once you get the hang of caring for a native or otherwise low-maintenance plant, add another one. If you lose a shrub, replace it with a duplicate of one that worked for you. It's likely that any plants that have thrived in your conditions and care (or even your benign neglect) will be good bets going forward, as long as the sun exposure and soil are similar from one spot to another.
If you think owning several of the same plant is just too lazy, think again. A tenet of landscape design is the "rule of threes": To unify the landscape, repeat elements in groups of threes or in other odd numbers. For instance, you might place three matching Knock Out roses irregularly in the landscape, plant a line of three ornamental grasses, or station three identical containers along a wall.
RELATED: 30 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever21. Collect or redirect rainwater.
Catching rain in a well-designed rain barrel is an eco-friendly way to garden, saving nature's moisture for dry times. Truth be told, however, a rain barrel needs periodic cleaning and should be emptied before winter, so it tends to add to your landscaping tasks. Another option is to simply redirect the rain. If you can force the water that pools under your downspout to travel 15 feet away to your tree, you can prevent puddling and reduce the time (and water) you would otherwise have had to commit to irrigating the tree.
There are several ways to do this: One is a French drain, which requires some work up front but allows you to direct the water underground toward the thirsty target. An easier DIY project is to create a dry riverbed by digging a gentle slope from the ground below the downspout to the perimeter around the tree, and then filling the pathway with rocks, gravel, or river rock.
RELATED: 12 Rain Barrels That Make Water Conservation Stylish22. Encourage natural pest control from predators.
There is nothing more natural than critters eating other critters, so do your best to encourage natural predators to visit your property and take care of undesirable pests. Attract barn owls, which feast on flying insects and rodents, as well as other helpful pest-eaters like woodpeckers, bluebirds, and cardinals, by providing water in the form of a bird bath and appropriate shelter, such as nesting boxes or even dense shrubbery—which mean less pruning for you! You can also try introducing lady beetles or other beneficial insects into your landscape and hope they stick around.
RELATED: Buyer's Guide: The Best Bird Baths
Containers add pretty color to your landscape, but they can dry out quickly and need to be watered more often than beds. You can invest in an outdoor self-watering container for herbs or ornamental plants, or purchase a few simple tools. For instance, try plant stakes that draw water from a reservoir, or take a tip from ancient irrigation techniques and bury an olla jar in a container or garden bed to provide consistent water that seeps through the clay. You will have to fill your olla jar or other watering tool periodically, but not every day, and that slow, steady seeping or dripping is better for the plants than rushed, inconsistent watering.
RELATED: 9 Brilliant Ways to Put Your Garden on Autopilot24. Use chickens or other livestock to take on some of the work.
Although keeping a few farm animals on your city lot requires some attention (and familiarity with local zoning requirements), animals like chickens can ease the burden of pest control or other landscape duties. Chickens love grubworms, nab grasshoppers, and also scratch into soil to reach other insects and larvae. Not only can they help control the beetles that are damaging your plants, but they'll also provide free fresh eggs and manure to enrich your compost pile. Ensure the safety and comfort of your small flock with a portable chicken coop like the Omlet Eglu Go UP, the best plastic option in our researched guide to the Best Chicken Coops.
In addition to chickens, consider raising geese, which eat grass and some weeds but avoid large-leaf plants. Geese even help protect chicken flocks by honking a warning or chasing off predators—and, of course, they also produce eggs. Pygmy goats are small and friendly, and they're excellent foragers, grazing on grass and weeds. They can also produce milk. Just keep them away from shrubs and herbs, which they are prone to munch on.25. Plan ahead and keep track.
As with any endeavor, up-front preparation trumps time spent fixing mistakes. When planning for or altering a landscape, do plenty of due diligence. Low- or no-maintenance landscaping begins with picking the right plant for the right spo