You want a lovely landscape full of color and texture. Who doesn’t? But what you don’t want is the maintenance -- lots of pruning and TLC. You just don’t have the time.
That’s OK. We don’t judge. You’re busy. But you want a nice landscape, too. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask for as a homeowner in the Greater Chicago area.
Luckily, with low maintenance landscape plants you can have your lovely landscape and less maintenance, too.
Try some of our favorite plants that pack a colorful or textural punch, but don’t require a ton of hassle.
Best Landscaping Plants for Illinois
When selecting low maintenance landscape plants, the initial step is to follow the rule of “right plant, right place.”
This means for any species you want to match the plant’s ideal conditions. For instance, plant sun-loving plants in areas that receive 6-plus hours of sun and shade-loving plants in those that receive less than 4 hours of direct sunlight. There are similar rules for each plant on soil moisture and type.
This ensures your plants thrive and showcase the best flowers and color.
Even the best low-maintenance varieties need the right planting environments to represent this low-hassle nature.
Here are some of our favorites.
Boxwoods are great best landscaping plants for Illinois because they are evergreen and you can use them as reliable backdrops or to provide structure in your garden spaces without a lot of work.
They can be kept to a 30-inch height with selective pruning and shaping, but they can also get to 4 feet without a lot of work. Smaller leaf varieties are nice; try ‘Green Gem,’ ‘Chicagoland Green,’ or ‘Northern Charm.’
If you’re not a fan of boxwood, you can try inkberry holly; the ‘Shamrock’ variety is similar in size and texture to boxwoods.
2. ‘Fire Chief’ Globe Arborvitae
We’ve used ‘Fire Chief’ globe arborvitae in some Naperville, Elmhurst, and Hinsdale landscapes to incorporate a high-contrast evergreen, and it does the trick.
This low-maintenance landscape plant brings orange to red foliage at a 3- to 4-foot height. It’s not what you’d expect from an arborvitae, and that’s what makes it so special.
Hydrangea varieties seem to multiply every year … and for good reason. They have great, large flower heads that persist all summer long, which is exactly when we want to enjoy our outdoor spaces.
Hydrangea ‘Annabell’ has lovely white flowers. It’s adaptable to both sun and shade and even wetter conditions. It also offers a 3- to 4-foot height. ‘Incrediball’ is a bigger version if you enjoy some floppy flowers after a rainstorm. Another great low-maintenance landscape plant is ‘Invincibelle Ruby,’ which promises some red color and does best in sun.
Being creative is part of the fun with incorporating low-maintenance plants.
For instance, there are some fun ways you can pair low-maintenance plants for suburban Chicago homes together for maximum impact.
We like to pair red-leaf plants with chartreuse-leaf plants for contrast, and then we add something blue in the foreground or background to bring another element to the space.
For instance, if you have a 6-foot to 8-foot wide sun to part shade corner, try ‘Tiger Eye’ sumac for big impact paired with ‘Spilled Wine’ weigela in front or a ‘Diablo’ or “Little Devil’ ninebark with it’s darker burgundy leaves on the side. Then add an ornamental grass with blue tones like blue oatgrass for another contrasting texture and color.
Being Low Maintenance Doesn’t Have to Be Boring
Low-maintenance landscape plants normally don’t need staking or dividing or excessive watering, yet they pack a powerful punch in your yard all the same.
Whether you have a home in Naperville, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, or another Chicago suburb, you can always appreciate plants that deliver the color, texture, and positive vibes without a lot of fuss.
We hope these tips help you realize there are some great options that can give you the look you’re after without taking up a lot of your time and energy.
If you’re still uncertain whether your landscape has conditions that make low maintenance more challenging, or if you haven’t been able to understand which plants truly have lower care needs, let KD Landscape help. We have years of experience working with a multitude of plants and know which ones have proven to work well in home landscapes and which ones haven’t.
We can help you add some plants that add incredible impact without you needing to monitor or watch them all the time.
Ready to see how KD Landscape can transform your suburban Chicago estate with low-maintenance plants? We’d love to share our design and installation expertise with you. Get started today with a free consultation. Together, we can prepare a design that you will love.