on Dec 29, 2020 10:06:48 AM

Low-Maintenance Landscaping for Your Home

Purchasing a new home is a big undertaking, from unpacking your belongings to familiarizing yourself with brand new surroundings. With all of these other responsibilities on your moving list, why not keep your landscape design simple and low-maintenance to leave more time for enjoying your outdoor space. Take a look at these landscaping tips to help you have the yard of your dreams without spending too much time on upkeep.

Create outdoor living spaces.

To reduce the planted areas that require your care, create an extended living space with a stone patio. Make sure to provide a solid base below the stone to block weeds and keep the surface level. A 6-8 inch layer of compacted pea stones works well as a quality base.

Choose functional, low-maintenance plants.

Pick plants that are native to Iowa to reduce the amount of upkeep required. Iowa’s native plants mainly include prairie grasses and flowers, many of which you can find listed in this native plant resource from ISU Extension.

Among the many advantages of choosing native plants for your landscaping includes the benefits to Iowa's soil and local wildlife such as butterflies. These prairie plants also are well-suited to surviving Iowa's seasonal conditions, from cold winters to summer drought and wind. 

Other low-maintenance plants include lavender, a perennial that comes back year after year and adds a beautiful burst of color to your yard. This prairie flower also deters pests like mosquitoes and flies while emitting a pleasant aroma you'll love on a warm summer day.

Automate watering.

Make use of an automatic sprinkler system to effortlessly maintain your grass, particularly if it was just sodded. Set your system to deliver the right amount of water to keep your lawn healthy while avoiding waste. It is recommended to deliver an inch of water to your grass each week (keep in mind that trees and shrubs will need more). You can also install rain sensors to enable your sprinkler system to take rainfall into account, which will signal your system to override a scheduled watering cycle when your lawn has received enough water.

Save your time and money while taking better care of the environment with smart irrigation technology.

Plant a rock garden.

Get creative with a rock garden featuring drought-tolerant plants to add some lasting beauty to your yard. Start with a layer of landscaping fabric beneath the rocks to keep weeds down and make the area as maintenance-free as possible. Larger rocks or boulders create beautiful focal points that require no care.

Consider using river rock around long-lasting trees and shrubs as a cost-effective alternative to organic mulches, which decompose and need to be replaced periodically. We used Trap Rock in the landscaping at Gray's Station in downtown Des Moines to keep maintenance to a minimum while giving the landscaping a sleek, urban look.


One of the best ways to keep your plants healthy and your yard looking great with very little effort is mulching around your landscaping. Mulch makes your life easier and improves the health of your yard in a number of ways:

  • Controls weeds by blocking sunlight to the ground
  • Prevents erosion by softening the impact of water on the soil
  • Gives the garden a finished look, providing a ground cover that contributes to your plants rather than competing with them
  • Limits evaporation and helps soil to retain moisture (reducing water usage by 25–50%)
  • Prevents soil compaction
  • Moderates soil temperature, avoiding extremes

Organic mulches provide the added benefit of returning vital nutrients to the soil as they decompose and improving soil chemistry, increasing the populations of beneficial organisms like the earthworm, every gardener's best friend. Some also give your lawn extra pest-deterring power.

If you're in the hunt for your dream home, Hubbell can help. We build and sell homes throughout the central Iowa, including in efficient conservation communities such as Glynn Village in Waukee, Tuscany in Altoona, Crosshaven in Johnston and Danamere Farms in Carlisle.