Maintenance-free landscaping is a goal for many of our customers living busy lifestyles, and the solutions we share at Terrapin Landscapes go way beyond planting perennials instead of annuals. To see how we turn our deep knowledge of the Maine ecosystem and timeless landscape design trends into easy-care outdoor planting and landscaping plans, read on!
Less lawn, more meadow
Here is a hard truth: there are few things on your property that take as much time and effort to maintain as a uniform, green grass lawn. For all its popularity, plush and inviting turf is awfully time-consuming and resource-intensive to keep up. Regular watering in the warmer months. Weekly mowing and trimming. Pulling out dandelions, seeding patchy spots, keeping the kids or your pets from burning spots in the grass or digging divots … if you are looking for a plant-it-and-leave-it landscaping solution, a lawn just isn’t it.
Terrapin Landscapes knows how much Mainers love their lawns. (We love playing catch and croquet and running barefoot through sprinklers in the summer, too!) And most of our clients want some kind of lawn expanse on their property. If you have the available space and enough sun, however, we often recommend scaling down your lawn and turning more of your property into natural meadow—particularly around the perimeter of your land, where it can create a lovely buffer against forests or provide a gentle border with adjoining properties.
Meadows don’t have to look messy! We specialize in meadows that grow naturally, wonderfully, abundantly wild in colors and textures complementary to your home and garden. Artfully planted with easy-care outdoor plants able to flourish unattended, our meadows are rich in colors, textures, and aromas across the entire growing season. And a meadow has all kinds of natural ecological benefits over a green grass lawn, from preventing water runoff and waste to nourishing butterflies, birds, and bees.
Want to make a natural Maine meadow on your property? Talk to the Terrapin Landscapes experts. We know how to select the right mix of plantings, resist ticks, and encourage wildlife.
Hardscaping can help
All common landscaping plants require a little bit of regular maintenance, even if it is only watering and the occasional weeding or thinning. Hardscaping, however, requires even less. Much like a natural meadow, incorporating even a little bit of hardscaping can reduce the amount of effort it takes to keep your front and backyards looking brilliant. When you transform a patch of lawn into a terrace or stone bench, you have less to water, weed, and worry about—and a fun new feature for your family to enjoy!
Flagstone patios are both livable and luxurious. Stone or boulder retaining walls can sculpt your property, channel water runoff, and offer charming vantage points. Chunks of granite ledge or other distinctive stone formed into cairns creates natural drama in the landscape and can have the presence of sculpture or art. And rock and Zen gardens—sometimes referred to as “dry landscapes”—are beautiful, contemplative, low-chore additions to any front or backyard. Terrapin Landscape designers integrate shrubbery around many of these hardscape additions to ease transitions, cool down temperatures, and add visual texture.
Low-maintenance plants that thrive in Maine
Still want to fill in parts of your property with landscaping plants? Cutting gardens, flowering borders, and other planted attractions do infuse front and backyards with inviting colors and fragrances across the seasons. Especially in a state like Maine where winter can last so long, it’s hard to give up the abundance of our short but sweet growing season.
The good news? Many of the most popular perennial landscaping plants need very little gardening to grow in Maine’s microclimate. The skilled landscape professionals at Terrapin can help you create attractive plantings of common landscaping plants that will thrive more or less unattended in various parts of your property. The resiliency of any given landscaping plant depends a great deal on your soil PH, the amount of sun or shade that plant receives, and the level of water (rain or runoff) it can expect to get, so not all plants in the guide below will work for everyone. Talk to the Terrapin team to find out which of your favorite low-maintenance landscaping plants will work best for you!
Native to Maine, these delightful perennials with sparkling, star-shaped blooms can reach great heights (from 8 inches to 8 feet!) and continue to add pops of bright color late in the season when other flowers have faded.
Another bold and showy perennial, Black-Eyed Susans bring the butterflies (but also deer and rabbits), so the Terrapin team usually pairs them with a more pest-resistant plant like lavender. Black-Eyed Susans resist drought and disease and return each year—with very little help from you!
A broad spectrum of colors, clusters of beautiful blooms, true butterfly-attracting abilities, and tough as heck. What’s not to like about the butterfly bush? Their potentially invasive properties. To save your lawn (and your neighbors) from a hostile takeover, the Terrapin team selects only sterile, non-invasive varieties of butterfly bushes.
Another low-maintenance plant that comes in a paintbox of colors, Coral Bells take hold quickly and need very little light or care to bring tall blooms to your garden.
An edible, perennial ground cover that needs a little watering and not much else, Creeping Thyme carpets the ground with tiny, pretty foliage and clusters of miniature aromatic flowers that butterflies can’t resist.
A native Maine tree capable of putting on a four-season show, Dogwoods have the texture and tenacity of shrubbery in the graceful form of a flowering tree.
Walk into any Maine forest and you’ll find ferns. (Our famous fiddleheads are simply baby ferns yet to unfurl.) Large, delicate fronds, cinnamon spikes, and more differentiate varieties of ferns but all are perennial, flourish in low light and poor soil, and resist drought.
Ribbon grass, Fountain grass, and other ornamental grasses bring texture (from feathery to fronds), tolerate drought, some flower,
Hostas are the underappreciated, hard-working heroes of so many Maine gardens. Hostas come in a wide variety of colors and styles, thrive across planting zones and can tolerate partial shade to full sun. They need just enough water not to burn or curl their leaves and they will come back every year to add rich texture and glossy verdant color to your garden’s understory!
Summer has truly arrived in Maine when the daylilies bloom. Hardy sentries clustered by garden gates, along split-rail fences, and up against old brick walls, these orange and yellow beauties bask in the sun, can bloom into autumn, and return year after year with little encouragement. (Remember to thin your lilies every few years to spread the low-maintenance loveliness around.)
MOUNTAIN HOLLY AND WINTERBERRY
Both Maine natives, Mountain Holly and Winterberry are strong shrubs with four-season appeal. You can enjoy glossy berries against the snow and dark green leaves year-round with hardly any effort.
As showy as roses but as stubborn as weeds, peonies are one of our most popular perennials. This gorgeous shrub is deer- and drought-resistant and, if given plenty of sun and room to spread out, it will only need to have its lovely, heavy blooms plucked regularly to avoid bending the stems.
These aromatic plants cluster quickly to create a fresh and edible ground cover Mainers have enjoyed for generations.
Sometimes called “winterbloom,” witch hazel is a perennial flowering plant with powerful medicinal properties. This hardy blooming shrub is capable of creating bright spots of color in your landscape as early as March—with no real cultivation at all.
Looking for easy plants for backyard landscaping? Any list of low-maintenance landscaping plants you find online will probably include plants that do a little too well in Maine lawns and gardens. If you plant or encourage invasive plants like barberry, bittersweet, and Japanese knotweed, it will take a lot of hard work and maintenance to keep them from taking over. Terrapin Landscapes helps our clients avoid invasive plantings and preserve Maine’s natural beauty for all.
If prepping your property this spring has you thinking of ways to cut down on yard work, talk to Terrapin. We can help you clear chores from your calendar without giving up a gorgeous front or backyard!