When it comes to yard work, Americans are divided. There are those who love spending time in the garden, getting in touch with the Earth and feeling the benefits of being out in the sunshine. For the rest of us, it’s one more chore that has to get done, or risk being THAT yard on the block.
But there’s a compromise. Plants native to your area are among the most low-maintenance plants available. They help the ecosystem and require little water or care. There are also a number of plants that do very well across many climate zones — without much help from people.
Here are five low-maintenance plants that will perform well in your garden.
From Michigan to Texas, peppermint is a hearty, aggressive grower that will quickly add some green to your garden. Even better, the herb has a number of documented health benefits, such as easing an upset stomach. It also smells nice and can add a little zest to some of your drinks and desserts. An added bonus? While humans and pollinators love the scent, mosquitoes despise it. The plant and its oils will keep the pests at bay in the summer.
The clematis is a tough perennial vine that will add charm to any garden. This is a climber, so give it a trellis or fence to grow and it will soon lend a romantic air to your yard. The flowers bloom in whites, lavenders, and magentas, even a deep purple. Keep in mind, this is a big plant that can grow as high as 10 to 20 feet, and the flowers are easily half a foot across. Clematis does well in most of the U.S. It originated in northeast Asia, where the summers are very hot, and the winters can be very cold. If you’re looking for an easy grower with a lot of flowers, this is your vine. You can probably find several varieties at your local garden store, or online.
The presence of butterflies is a positive sign for the local environment, and one of the plants many butterflies love is the aptly named butterfly bush. This low-maintenance plant is drought-tolerant and attracts butterflies and birds to your yard. Think of it as the buy-one-get-one-free of the plant world. The butterfly bush grows easily in much of the United States, and you’ll get a show of colorful winged insects to boot.
The elegant peony flower grows in shades of pinks and whites and is a constant favorite in bridal bouquets because of its fluffy blooms. It’s also super popular with gardeners because the peony bush is a hardy plant that comes back year after year. Some varieties of peony have blooms so heavy they will droop to the ground if not staked, but that’s likely the most work you will have to do for a peony plant. Single varieties are not as heavy, and don’t need staking — and are a favorite of honeybees. Be patient, though, as peonies don’t typically bloom the first year after planting.
Marigolds are another multitasking plant to have in your garden. Marigold blooms come in shades of red, orange and yellow, and they’re edible. They’re also good at keeping mosquitoes and other pests away. These flowers grow well from the semi-arid climate of Colorado to the Upper Midwest and even into the Southeast. You can find marigolds for sale at your local home improvement or gardening store.
You don’t need to be a landscaper or have a green thumb to grow a successful garden. Just plant these low-maintenance plants in the spring and leave the rest to Mother Nature. Who knows? You may find that gardening really grows on you.
Jean Summers owns a flower shop and sprinkler company. She’s as handy with power tools as she is a pen. She writes how-to manuals in her spare time, hoping to teach women how to install and repair their own irrigation systems.