THINK ABOUT THE LONG RUN
More outdoor space means more chances to entertain in warm weather—and less work for you. "Creating outdoor living spaces lends itself to low-maintenance landscaping because you can extend your home while having fewer grassy areas to care for," says Peyton. The couple has a stone patio with a grilling area, dining table, and separate fire pit area in their home. Similarly, a deck is an equally low-maintenance option.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT STONE FOR OUTDOOR LANDSCAPING
Though it can be a pricey option, bluestone has a dense composition that makes it incredibly durable. Despite its name, the versatile stone comes in a variety of colors such as blue, brown, gray, and orange. "It's a natural stone and it feels great when you're walking around barefoot, which I love to do all summer long," says Chris. For a less expensive option, consider crushed stone such as pea stone or white stone.
BUILD A STRONG FOUNDATION
Establish a solid base for stone surfaces to avoid fix-ups later. If you are planning a stone patio, lay a six- to eight-inch layer of compacted pea stones first. "It will prevent weeds and keep your patio level," says Chris. "If you have a good base, it ends up being low-maintenance for decades to come. You won't have to be weeding things, pulling up stones, and re-leveling them."
GO FOR MULCH
Around your outdoor living space, add beds of mulch instead of grass. "It's one of the best investments you can have in your yard because mulch breaks down, fertilizes your plants, and prevents weeds," says Chris. "It's low-maintenance because you don't have to mow or water it. It's also inexpensive and you only have to replace it in the spring." An added perk: Mulch also provides a pleasant aroma for your yard.
For a relaxing aroma and burst of color, plant lavender. "Lavender will come back year after year, and it only needs to be watered once or twice a week if you don't live in a climate with regular rain," says Chris. "I also love planting lavender near the patio because the scent is a bug repellant."
FILL BEDS WITH CRUSHED STONE
It's an alternative to mulch. "A lot of people use crushed stones in beds because it's a really good xeriscaping technique," says Chris. "Stone is also a nice option in beds because you never have to replace it."
PERSONALIZE LANDSCAPING STONES
If you use stone in landscaping beds, consider how much wind your region gets and how the stone will match the aesthetic of your home. "Pea stone comes in different sizes, so you can get a three-quarter inch stone if you're worried about wind," says Chris. "Crushed stone also comes in a variety of colors, so you can change it depending on your style, house color, or area of the country."
For low-maintenance plants, opt for perennials. "You buy them once, and they come back year after year," says Chris. For example, hens-and-chicks are tough plants that grow well in rocky, challenging spaces while just a few yuccas can fill a space with grand, spiky leaves.
CHOOSE YOUR FLOWERS STRATEGICALLY
Add vibrant color to your yard without sweating in the garden. "I like to always have color, so I try to have plants that flower all season," says Chris. "When something's always blooming in the yard, there's a sense of added life." Black-eyed Susans are a good summer choice because they bloom throughout the season. In the autumn, consider Montauk daisies.
PLANT CLIMATE-SPECIFIC GRASS
If you're not ready to nix grass completely, consider which grasses naturally grow in your region. "If you plant a grass that is accustomed to your climate, that makes it low maintenance," says Chris. "You can research which grass grows best in your area, and in turn save money on watering, fertilizing, and other maintenance." For instance: In the Northeast—where the couple lives in their Cape Cod home—fescue and ryegrass grow well. Alternatively, in the Southeast, Bermuda grass is a better option.
MAKE USE OF POTTED PLANTS
Incorporating pots into landscaping not only makes a yard more low-maintenance, but also more versatile. "We love to use pots, especially for clients who want color in different parts of the yard," says Peyton. "Plus, pots are easy to move around. If you're having a party on your patio, you can move them to that area." For an added pop of color, coordinate the flowers to the season—try whites and pinks in the spring and summer, and switch to yellows and reds in the fall.
GROW NATIVE PLANTS
Just like you should plant grass that is specific to your region, choose native plants for less upkeep. "If you pick plants that are native or grow well in a specific zone or area, that will keep water and pruning prices down," says Chris.
CLEAR OUT FALLEN LEAVES
The easiest way to winter-proof your yard:Get rid of the fallen leaves. "Get all the leaves off of your lawn so they don't rot out the grass over the winter," says Chris.
SPRING-PROOF YOUR YARD
Once again, the magic is in the mulch. "In the spring, mulch everything, because it prevents weeds," says Chris. "It helps the water go straight to the plants that need it rather than feeding the weeds."
Collecting water with rain barrels is an extremely easy (and environmentally-friendly) way to water your plants. "We have a rain barrel and it attaches to the downspout, so all the water comes off the roof of your house," says Peyton. "Or it could be as simple as letting a trash can fill up with water."
PICK THE RIGHT BARBECUE
For a low-maintenance outdoor cooking space, invest in appliances that last. "If you want something that's going to stand the test of time, go with a built-in barbecue area with stone veneer on the front," says Peyton. A sturdy granite countertop is also a long-lasting feature, and it's ideal for withstanding varying weather conditions.