As a landscaper it is crucial to use flowers and shrubs that won’t give you a hard time down the road. The last thing you want is to be responsible for is a finicky shrub that is hard to care for, or unexpectedly falls ill. That is why it is important to use low-maintenance plants whenever possible.
In our experience, there are a number of plants which are easy to work with and make a great addition to a wide range of landscapes. Here are 9 of our picks for low-maintenance gardening in the southeast.
When it comes to landscaping Mondo, or monkey Grass is a valuable asset to have on hand. Available in both dwarf and regular varieties, this grass is versatile and has many applications. It can be used for anything from creating a natural grass border along sidewalks to a ground cover in garden beds. Most importantly, Mondo grass is very low-maintenance.
Additionally, these grasses can help you control weeds trying to enter your client’s garden beds. How? Use this grass to create a natural garden bed edge, which will not only look great, but also prevent weeds from reaching into the beds.
Maintenance Requirements: Light fertilizer to improve color and look. Divide as needed.
Irises are a great partial-to-full sun flower which can be established quite easily in a range of garden conditions. Once these flowers are established they require little maintenance throughout the year. Thinning them out can take a bit of work, but it’s hard to mess up, and only needs to be done every few years. Best of all, you will likely end up with extra plants, which you can sell to another client.
Maintenance Requirements: Cut iris back in late fall, and thin them out every few years.
In our opinion, daylilies are arguably some of the most astounding flowers found in the American landscape. Best of all, they require little maintenance. They can even be established in places many plants wouldn’t grow such as along driveways, or ditches.
These flowers are easily divided and transplanted to other areas of your client’s lawn. Even better, just like irises, you can sell divided lillies to other clients, or give them away as gifts.
Maintenance Requirements: Deadhead lilies as needed, cut back foliage in late fall, and divide every few years. Fertilize in spring.
Azaleas are in the rhododendron family, and like rhodies, they require almost no maintenance. What’s more, they add a lot of color to the garden and can look great along fences. Once established, azaleas don’t require maintenance beyond keeping them properly watered. The biggest issue you may run into with azaleas is that they have shallow roots, but this can be corrected with a thick layer of mulch.
Maintenance Requirements: Mulch azaleas well, water & fertilize as necessary.
Spirea is a go-to shrub for full-sun to light-shade spaces in a landscape. They come in a range of colors and sizes and can stand alone in a garden bed, or be grouped with other plants. Just like azaleas, spirea requires almost no maintenance once established. Just be sure that they don’t get to dry. Like azalea, they perform best when mulched well.
Pro tip! If you do take the time to deadhead spent spirea flowers, you will often find that they will flower a second time.
Maintenance Requirements: Mulch spirea well, water as necessary. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage a second flowering.
This south Florida native is a shoe-in when it comes to low-maintenance landscaping in the southeast. Anise is an evergreen shrub which is easily established in southeastern landscapes and can grow almost anywhere from full sun to partial shade. This shrub makes a great, foliage-rich plant which can be used to fill blank spaces, or create natural privacy fencing.
Maintenance Requirements: Apply acidic fertilizer to Anise in spring. Prune to the desired shape.
Indian hawthorne is a slow-growing, low-maintenance shrub which is great for full sun locations. Aside from its brilliant flowers, Indian hawthorne grows in a great rounded shape naturally – without pruning! Best of all, hawthorne provides color for a large part of the year, with flowers in spring which are soon followed by berries later in the year.
Maintenance Requirements: Fertilize hawthorne in spring and fall. Pruning is rarely needed.
If you really want to add some low-maintenance flare to your clients’ gardens or lawns, you need some hibiscus. Hibiscus does great when potted to accent pools and walkways. It also adds great color to your client’s garden beds. However, unless you live in southern Florida be sure to use the hardy varieties of hibiscus if you intend to overwinter them outdoors. In our experience, hibiscus works best when potted anyhow, which allows it to be easily be brought indoors each winter.
Maintenance Requirements: Water hibiscus well. Fertilize biannually when in the ground, and quarterly if potted.
One of our favorite go-to bushes is the viburnum. Other than biannual fertilizing, and minimal pruning, most species of viburnum are very low-maintenance. Viburnums come in a range of shapes and sizes, and there are varieties available for nearly any application. Ones which do well in the Southeast in particular are Suspensum and Odorotisimum.
Be aware, some species; such as Viburnum opulus, Viburnum lantana, and Viburnum rafinesquianum, are susceptible to viburnum leaf beetle, which is a pain to get rid of. However, in general, viburnum are disease resistant.
Maintenance Requirements: Choose the right variety of viburnum. Prune rarely, fertilize biannually.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Using any combination of these top 10 low-maintenance plants for the southeast will result in a landscape that is easier to maintain. Additionally, these plants are rather hardy, generally affordable, and hard to make mistakes with. They make a great addition to any landscaper’s arsenal and can help you attain more installations, and maintain more landscapes, without the hassle!
What more can you ask for?
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