12 Best Low-Maintenance Plants & Trees for Kansas City Landscapes

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    You want a lush, cozy landscape overflowing with gorgeous color, texture, and interest. You might even want to see it from all of the windows of your home so it can be enjoyed any time of day or year.

    Who doesn’t want a home landscape reminiscent of a tidy English garden or sweeping Tuscan villa? We like those, too.

    But what you don’t want is fussy flowers and trees and shrubs that make you realize you don’t have enough time in the day to give them the care and attention they need. Who has the time?

    It’s perfectly OK to want the dream: a beautiful, blooming yard that doesn’t need micromanaged. You’re busy; we understand. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask for any Kansas City homeowner.

    Luckily, help is on the way. With low-maintenance landscaping plants you can have your lovely landscape and less maintenance, too. We promise.

    Try some of our favorite plants that pack a colorful or textural punch, but don’t require all the hassle and headaches.

    Low-Maintenance Landscaping in Kansas City

    First, let’s talk about some low-maintenance tips.

    We have some news to break to you, initially: There is no such thing as a no-maintenance landscape. The reason you love plants is because they are living, ever-changing elements in your yard that require light, water, and nutrients to survive and thrive.

    While you can match plants to their right spaces and requirements from the start to ensure the best outcome, conditions are never perfect for every plant, depending on Mother Nature’s mood. Soil and environment limitations can mean your plants need supplemental nutrients to excel, regardless of how low-maintenance the plant is. Animal browsing can even cause a landscape to require additions like repellents or preventatives.

    Next you want to think about the design elements that amplify low-maintenance plants for landscaping in Kansas City. These tips ensure the fuss-free plants can exhibit their best traits in your landscape.

    Use Layers

    When you admire those lush landscapes on the pages of magazines or scrolling through your Instagram feed, you might notice them mention low-maintenance landscaping plants and wonder how a space that full and vibrant can be fuss-free.

    How do they make the space less time-consuming to tend to and drool-worthy? They layer.

    Landscape layering is the process of using a variety of plant materials and arranging them into a design that places greenery in foreground, middle-ground, and background areas, so they all come together in one cohesive landscape bed.

    This dynamic garden design technique uses repetition, scale, flow, and depth to create an eye-catching area.

    What’s more, lower layers in the front help prevent sunlight from germinating weeds or hides those that do sneak in, as well as masks any surrounding plant shortcomings during certain times of year. This makes for naturally lower-maintenance beds.

    Think Natural

    When you want low-maintenance landscaping plants, you must also factor in the overall way you lay out your garden.

    For instance, a very formal, contemporary garden with meticulously trimmed hedges and intricate garden pathways takes work to consistently look that precise.

    On the contrary, curvy, naturalized designs that take advantage of plants’ natural shapes are easier to maintain.

    Don’t Ignore Plant Water Requirements

    Always consider the water requirements of low-maintenance landscaping plants when choosing them and then grouping them in your yard.

    You want water-lovers to stick together, and those that are more drought-tolerant to have their groups as well. This way, your irrigation system can treat each zone differently, providing only the extra water that’s necessary for those specific plant groups.

    Factor in Wildlife Habits

    When you choose low-maintenance landscaping plants, you also have to think about the likelihood of deer, rabbit, squirrel, and other potential wildlife damage.

    Why? Constant repellant applications can be high maintenance even if the plant you choose is not.

    12 Low Maintenance Plants & Trees for Kansas City

    Low-maintenance landscaping usually incorporates plants that best match an area’s growing conditions.

    While there are many of these plants in Kansas City that can fill the bill, your specific yard will also play a role in determining the best options. For instance, if your landscape doesn’t receive much sunlight, you’ll want to opt for trees and plants that prefer partial to full shade to ensure they are hassle-free in your space.

    These are some of our favorite low-maintenance landscaping plants and easy care trees.

    Best Low-maintenance Plants for Kansas City

    Try some of these low-hassle, high-impact plants if you want some unique, eye-popping results.

    1. Double Play Series of Spirea (‘Candy Corn,’ ‘Big Bang,’ and ‘Artisan’)

    Spirea is a popular flowering shrub because of its long-lasting blooms and multiple landscape uses — from being a mass planter, perennial border, groundcover, or informal hedge. It also offers very colorful new growth as it emerges in the spring, which is why it’s referred to as “double play.” Add to that drought tolerance, deer resistance, partial shade loving, and lack of a need for a lot of pruning, and you have yourself a winning plant.

    2. Golden Pacific Shore Juniper

    his new yellow spin on an old blue favorite provides a low-growing trailing characteristic that gives a color pop all season long when planted in full sun. This beauty works well in mass plantings or as a groundcover. For a bonus, use it along retaining walls to let it cascade over the edges.

    3. Tiny Tuff Stuff Hydrangea

    This hardy, reblooming mountain hydrangea has a petite, neat habit with lace-like blooms. Flowers are so delicate and refined, that calling them tough might seem like an insult, but tough they are, offering shades that range from mauve to blue to pink and even white.

    4. Wine Cups Poppy Mallow

    Want a summer-long display of bright magenta flowers? Look no further than this bright pink perennial groundcover that tolerates intense conditions and reblooms without pruning. This sprawling grower spreads across the ground to create a colorful mat of flowers and foliage. And it’s also drought resistant.

    5. Dazzle Series of Sedum (‘Dazzleberry’ and ‘Plum Dazzled’)

    ‘Dazzleberry’ offers an attractive mound with smoky blue-gray foliage. Then, in late summer, it pops with raspberry pink flower clusters that bloom for more than 7 weeks. They are critter-proof as well. ‘Plum Dazzled’ has deep plum-colored foliage that erupts with magenta blooms in late summer that provide more than 6 weeks of color.

    6. Little Angel Burnet

    This charming dwarf plant offers a dense mat of deep green and creamy white variegated foliage that sparkle with ruby-red flower clusters in summer and fall. This perennial looks great even when it’s not in bloom. And it can be a tough little addition to your low-maintenance landscape.

    Best Low-maintenance Ornamental Grasses for Kansas City

    Grasses blowing in the breeze provide not only cool texture and color, but they also add that lovely fluttering sound that can soothe even the most stressed of us. Try these ornamental grasses to create this effect in your landscape.

    7. Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

    This grass maintains good color throughout the summer with bright green leaves that offer feathery plumes in pink to purple during the summer months.

    8. Flame Grass (Miscanthus)

    This grass is loved for its superior orange-bronze fall color. Before autumn, the leaves are dark green that offer tall spikes of very soft pink flowers and silvery plumes. Compact, upright, and stunning — what’s not to love?

    9. Prairie Dropseed

    For a touch of elegance, try this fine-textured, distinctive bunchgrass with leaves that curl gracefully outward forming large, round tufts. In fall, you get a delicate tan-bronze color.

    Best Easy Maintenance Trees for Kansas City

    Trees add a major impact to any landscape, providing substantial focal points and coveted shade. However, some trees are better than others when it comes to minimizing maintenance.

    10. Autumn Gold Ginkgo

    This tree can grow to 40 to 50 feet tall with a symmetrical habit. Green, fan-shaped leaves turn a golden yellow in fall.

    11. Caddo Maple, such as Autumn Splendor

    This large shade tree is heat, drought, and leaf tatter resistant. Glossy green summer foliage turns yellowish-orange to red in the fall. A Midwest native, the oval crown form is beautiful all year long.

    12. Swamp White Oak

    If you have a wetter landscape, this tree can fit right in. But it is unique because it’s also proven to do just as well in urban or drought conditions. This shade tree can grow 50 to 60 feet tall and offers yellow, bronze and even purplish fall color.

    Low Maintenance Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

    Low-maintenance landscaping plants normally don’t need staking or dividing or excessive watering, yet they pack a powerful punch in your yard all the same. You can always appreciate plants that deliver the color, texture, and positive vibes you’re after without a lot of fuss.

    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 High Prairie’s experts 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 also specialize in offering unique and hard-to-find varieties.

    We can help you add some plants that offer incredible impact without you needing to monitor or watch them all the time. You’ve got other things to do, after all.

    Ready to see how High Prairie can transform your Kansas City home landscape 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 and your neighbors will envy.

    Image sources: spirea, hydrangea, wine cups poppy mallow, little angel burnet, karl foerster feather reed grass, prairie dropseed, autumn gold ginkgo, swamp white oak

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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