13+ Top Tips to Landscape a Low-Maintenance Garden
Have you ever flipped through the pages of House & Garden and lusted after the beautiful, manicured gardens or pinned images of cottage gardens on Pinterest? If so, you’re not alone, and you’re even less alone if you can’t imagine having the time to maintain a garden like that!
Most of us love the idea of pottering around in the garden all day, but the reality is, it’s not always fun and few of us have the time. So, how do you landscape a low-maintenance garden that will always look good outside your window, (come summer or winter!), but requires little-to-no work?
As artificial plant experts, we have more than a few ideas up our sleeves! Read on to learn how to get the dream garden you’ve always wanted!
Can you put artificial plants outside?
The short answer is: yes! You can use artificial plants in any garden, regardless of position, design, or season. You can exclusively use artificial plants, mix them with a few select real plants, and even use artificial trees for added height. The only caveat is the type of artificial plants you use – you need to choose plants that are “outside friendly” or have some form of UV protection. You can add UV protection (you can learn more about UV resistant plants and sprays here) [link to the post on UV resistant artificial plants], but if you do, make sure you choose the right kind of artificial plants. Traditional silk flowers and plants are pretty, but they don’t do well through rain, sleet, and snow.
Why use artificial plants in a low-maintenance garden?
Artificial plants are the unsung heroes of the low-maintenance garden because they:
- Look the same year-round
- Require little-to-no upkeep (you may want to dust off in a dry summer and reapply UV protection every summer)
- You can always enjoy your garden
- Last-minute in-law visits and garden parties won’t worry you!
Can you plant artificial plants in soil?
Yes, that’s no problem! The great thing about artificial plants is, since they aren’t alive, they aren’t picky! Real plants need the right amount of sun, water, they don’t like getting too cold or too hot, and they nearly all get taken over by weeds if you aren’t willing to get out there and pull weeds every week or two, and some of them only last a year. That’s not to mention pests and diseases – yikes! You can use artificial plants in containers with stones and pebbles, plant them in soil in the ground, in raised beds, and hang vine plants over trellis, archways, sheds, deck railings, and pergolas.
How Can I Landscape a Low-Maintenance Garden?
Decide on a Style & Gather Inspiration
You can totally emulate a country cottage garden entirely with artificial plants, but realistically, you’ll probably want to choose a more minimalist design. Consider clean lines, the use of paving, raised beds, and manicured lawns (real or faux grass – it’s up to you!). Jump on Instagram, Pinterest, or even RightMove and look for some garden inspiration. This will help you decide what you want to do with your outside space.
Before you get your heart set on a certain style of garden, check-in with yourself and ensure it fits your needs. Do you need space for your kids to play football? Do you have dogs that like to do zoomies around and around the garden? Make sure you leave room to put your furniture, for kids to play, or for your pets. If you don’t, you may find your plants get trampled as kids and pets do what kids and pets do.
Map it Out
Head outside with a tape measure and get some measurements of your garden. Then, take a sheet of paper or a free garden design app and lay out the different areas you want to create. You’ll get more ideas for what you can do with your garden as you read on here, but it’s a good idea to get these measurements early so you can generate a few different ideas.
Use Weed Control Membrane
If you’ve ever landscaped a garden before, you will likely have used weed control membrane. Weed control membrane is a roll of woven plastic that you roll across any areas of soil you don’t want weeds to grow and then cover with gravel, pebbles, or paving.
However, if you’re smart and landscaping a low-maintenance garden (AKA you!), you can also use this for areas where you plan to use artificial plants. Consider using it across beds and then covering those beds with a thin layer of soil for a natural look (just be aware that you will likely get a few hardy weeds from time to time), gravel, or use it under artificial turf.
Consider Patios, Paths, and Decking
When you’re planning a low-maintenance garden, think about using low-maintenance floor coverings to give you space to enjoy your garden. Consider if you want to add a patio outside the back door if you don’t have one, or a deck if your garden falls away. Alternatively, if your house is south-facing (meaning your garden is north facing), a raised deck at the back of your garden will allow you to enjoy summer evenings and spring and autumn days when the area outside the back of your home is cold.
Use Planters & Baskets
If you’re using a lot of turf, gravel, or paving, use planters and pots to elevate your artificial plants and add visual interest. Similarly, hanging baskets full of artificial flowers can be added to the exterior of your home or fences.
Don’t Be Afraid of Artificial Trees
Artificial trees are the perfect way to add height to your garden and create shade where there is none. You can plant your artificial tree in the ground, in a large pot, or even use concrete to fix it into place, though you need to be certain that you want to keep the tree in your chosen location for many years to come before you do so!
Use Artificial Plants for Instant Privacy
One of the best things about artificial plants is you don’t have to choose between buying small, budget-friendly plants and waiting for them to grow in, or expensive full-size bushes that require trimming just a week or two after you plant them. Instead, you can buy cost-effective artificial plants that give you the privacy you’re looking for instantly and never change. They don’t drop leaves in the winter or grow continuously in summer. You can either densely plant your preferred artificial plant or use an artificial hedge for the screening you’re looking for.
The Best Types of Artificial Plants for Gardens
Here are some of the best artificial plants to use outside – remember to align these ideas with the style of garden you want to create or it may look like a hodge-podge of styles.
- Artificial boxwood and topiary – this is a classic choice for gardens, especially with modern and minimalist designs. Use them to accent paths, doorways, and use them for hedges.
- Artificial bamboo – artificial bamboo is extremely pretty and perfect for screening. If you’re dealing with limited space and want to get the maximum greenery in that space, artificial bamboo may be the answer to your problems!
- Artificial hedging – artificial hedges are another great option for creating privacy. In most cases, this comes in a roll and you can attach it to an existing fence or you can build a box-style wire hedge and cover it in the artificial hedge.
- Artificial ivy – real ivy isn’t necessarily something you want in a small garden as it can take over, and it can also damage trees, structures, and even your home! However, if you love the beautiful way ivy trails over or up things, use artificial ivy and fix it where you want it.
- Artificial ferns – this is a great option if you prefer a wild, woodland look. Plant (or arrange) them densely for the best effect. They look great in planters, arranged around terracotta pots, and surrounded by grey stone.
- Artificial lavender – lavender looks great in slate and terracotta pots, lining pathways, and to fill in empty space. Purple lavender is the classic colour, but you can also find artificial lavender in pink and white if you want to mix it up.
- Artificial bay trees – bay trees are perfect for larger pots to add height to a patio area, but don’t discount them for borders. Three or more with equal distance between in a bed adds height and symmetry in any style of garden.
- Artificial cypress – real cypress can grow to impressive heights, but thankfully, artificial cypress allows you to bring in the feathery foliage. Use this plant to add texture to your garden.
- Artificial cacti and agave – There’s nothing better for a low-maintenance garden than cacti, agave, and succulents! Cover raised beds or sloping ground with weed control membrane, pebbles (somewhat ironically Scottish pebbles work wonders), or even play sand and then plant your cacti, agave, and succulents in spotted groups for a natural look.
- Artificial palms – palm plants work surprisingly well in outside spaces, especially if you’re trying to evoke a tropical vibe. Don’t be afraid to go big when it comes to palms, often the bigger, the better!
- Artificial pansies – Finally, some flowers! Pansies are a great small artificial flower to add to your beds, pots, or baskets because they come in so many colours, and the live version flowers almost year-round, so people won’t necessarily know that they’re artificial at first glance if they visit in the winter or early spring.
- Artificial dracaena – dracaena is typically a houseplant, but it can be used to great effect outside in dense foliage. Dracaena has green and yellow leaves, so it’s a great way to add a splash of colour to a planter or bed of plants.
- Artificial grape hyacinth – grape hyacinth can be mistaken for a strange variety of bluebell, but artificial grape hyacinths are often taller with more foliage, which can make the ideal addition to your low maintenance garden.
- Artificial allium – alliums have tall balls of flowers in the shape of a lollypop, and artificial alliums are versatile and extremely realistic. If you love colour, artificial alliums are a good choice.
- Artificial gardenia – gardenias have thick, waxy foliage and white flowers that look a little like a cross between a rose and a carnation. Use a large artificial gardenia or multiple stems surrounded by bark, other plants, or stones.
- Artificial azalea – azaleas are another good choice if you want to infuse your low-maintenance garden with colour. Use them at the back of flower beds or fix them to trellis.
- Artificial rose – artificial rose plants are typically much smaller than real roses, and also much less thorny! This makes them the ideal flower for patio areas, flower beds, and plant pots.
- Artificial geraniums – artificial geraniums are much more appealing than real geraniums because they don’t have that strange smell, they aren’t as fragile, and many artificial geraniums have a trailing quality which helps them take up a much bigger footprint.
- Artificial hydrangeas – real hydrangeas are huge plants, and most artificial hydrangeas you find are just the stems with the flower, but you can use artificial foliage with the flower in planters for a bright pop of colour for your patio areas.
- Artificial grasses – we’re not talking turf here, though artificial turf is definitely something to consider. Artificial grass plants are another great addition you can use in your garden, and you can find a wide range of styles.
- Artificial wisteria – wisteria is a beautiful climbing plant with purple flowers that hang down. You often see it climbing the fronts of Victorian and Edwardian homes, and artificial wisteria is the perfect addition if you’re looking for something to hang over a window, to attach to some trellis, or hang over a gazebo.
Is there anything I should avoid when using artificial plants for my garden?
If you use plants that are typically house plants, like a fiddle leaf fig tree, be intentional about how you use the plant. You can make house plants work in your garden, but if you just pick random plants, it will look artificial. Artificial plants have the benefit of looking natural until you get up close, so if you use random plants (especially if they’re made from different materials and bought at wildly different price points) it will look artificial.
Artificial plants in the garden is a growing trend as people look for ways to maintain a beautiful outside space easily, so why not give it a go? Browse our range of artificial plants to get some inspiration here.