10 Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for South Texas

Working outdoors can be brutal during the searing Texas summers. So if you find yourself melting one afternoon while pushing a mower around the lawn, you might begin to wonder if there’s an easier way to get a nice yard.

There is. 

While all yards require some level of care, it’s possible to cut down on your time, effort and expense by adopting low-maintenance landscaping ideas for your South Texas yard that minimize the required amount of watering, fertilizing, mowing, and weeding. Let’s take a look at some of the best ideas.

In this article:

  1. Grow Native Plants
  2. Grow Succulents
  3. Ground Covers Instead of Grass
  4. Use Artificial Turf Instead
  5. Go Evergreen
  6. Plant Long-Lasting Perennials
  7. Try Xeriscaping
  8. Use Hardscapes
  9. Mulch Your Plant Beds
  10. Get an Automatic Sprinkler System

1. Grow Native Texas Plants

Purple color beauty berry on brance of tree with leaves

Photo Credit: Eric Hunt / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Go native and plant some indigenous Texas plants in your garden and landscape. It only makes sense that plants that thrive in the Texas wilderness will also grow well in your yard. So if you’re searching for low-maintenance landscaping ideas, a good place to start is by adding native plants. 

Native Texas plants already know how to survive in the wild without extra special care, so they won’t require much watering, fertilizing, or pest control. They are also more resistant to local pests and diseases. Planting a mixture of native wildflowers, trees, and shrubs means less maintenance for your yard. 

Here are a few to start with:

Advantages of growing native plants:

  • Provides a home for native wildlife
  • Adapted to the Texas climate
  • Resistant to local pests and diseases
  • Eco-friendly since they don’t require many chemicals like pesticides or herbicides

Estimated Cost: The price tag of a native plant depends on the size and type of plant. Here’s a general price range for different types of plants:

Plant TypePrice
Shrub$15 to $50
Vine$5 to $50
Tree$200 to $1,500

If you are planning a more intensive project, installing a flower bed costs $585 to $3,300

2. Grow Succulents

It’s not just native plants that thrive in the Texas heat – succulents are hardy, drought-resistant plants that thrive in hot climates, too. 

Succulents don’t require much maintenance or care, as they are perfectly content on their own, without outside help. Unlike most plants, succulents prefer arid conditions. In fact, they sometimes die if they are overwatered. 

From cacti to agaves, there are many varieties of succulents to choose from, and homeowners can add a desert-like flare to their yard while simultaneously reducing the amount of effort required for lawn upkeep. 

Advantages of succulents:

  • Succulents thrive in droughts and hot conditions
  • Come in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Unique desert aesthetic
  • Adaptable

Estimated Cost: As with any plant, the price depends on the type and size of the succulent. Usually, you can expect to pay about $10 to $75 per plant

3. Use Ground Covers Instead of Grass

Photo Credit: I.Sáček, senior / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Want a natural growing lawn without having to mow weekly? Then ground covers may be just the thing you’re looking for. Ground covers are low-growing plants that usually grow no more than a few inches tall. 

Ground covers are decorative, require little maintenance, and spread over your yard the way a lawn would. Some groundcovers bloom with flowers during the year, adding a touch of floral color to your yard. 

Look for groundcovers that grow well in South Texas’ USDA hardiness zone, which ranges from 9a to 10a. Some groundcovers that flourish in 9a zones include:

  • Bugleweed
  • Mondo grass
  • Periwinkle

Advantages of ground covers:

  • No mowing
  • No fertilizing
  • Attract fewer pests and weeds than regular grass lawns
  • Keeps a natural green look

Estimated Cost: Installing ground covers usually costs around $4.50 to $26 per square foot, although prices vary depending on the type of ground cover. If you have to remove your old grass lawn first, that job will be an additional cost that will depend on the scope of the project. 

4. Use Artificial Turf Instead

One easy way to keep an evergreen lawn year-round without ever having to take care of it is to replace your traditional grass lawn with artificial turf.

With artificial turf, you never have to water or mow your yard. You won’t have to worry about the scorching heat burning your grass to a brown crisp or remember to fertilize it at the right time. Even without maintenance, your lawn will look the same all year long. 

Artificial turf can look very realistic, and most people won’t know the difference between a real grass lawn and a synthetic lawn. Artificial grass is available in several different varieties, so you can find the right grass type to fit your landscape design.

Advantages of artificial turf:

  • Endures a lot of foot traffic
  • Doesn’t require mowing or watering
  • Stays green all year round
  • Conserves water resources
  • Won’t be ruined by too much heat or water
  • Eco-friendly since it reduces the need for chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers

Estimated Cost: Different types of artificial turf are priced differently, but in general professional artificial turf installation costs $5 to $20 per square foot

5. Go Evergreen

Homeowners who want their yards to stay as green as possible all year long should consider planting evergreens. 

Evergreen shrubs and trees stay green all year, meaning they don’t shed their leaves in the fall. Think about it. No raking.

Try some of these evergreens:

Advantages of using evergreen plants:

  • Keeps your yard green all year round
  • Doesn’t require leaves to be raked up during the fall

Estimated Cost: Evergreens usually cost $20 to $60 per shrub and  $150 to $3,000 per tree. 

6. Garden with Long-Lasting Perennials

Yellow color carolina jessamine flowers

Photo Credit: KENPEI / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Replanting new plants in your flower beds every year is a costly endeavor that takes a lot of time. Instead of buying annuals, switch to perennial plants. 

Annuals last only a single year and biennials only last 2 years, but perennials keep returning year after year. If you’re tired of all the planning and physical labor it takes to replant your flower beds every year, then redo your landscape with perennials. This approach also spares you the time and effort of nurturing new annuals as they adjust to their new home. 

Try out some of these perennials:

Advantages of gardening with perennials:

  • Doesn’t need to be replanted every year
  • Deeper root systems are better for the soil
  • Saves money on plant purchases
  • Plants last several years

Estimated Cost: Usually it costs $10 to $60 per plant, although costs vary widely across the board depending on what kind of perennial you get. If you hire a professional to plant your perennials for you, that will affect the cost of the project as well.

7. Try Out Xeriscaping

Recently, xeriscaping has become a hot new landscaping trend, as it reduces the amount of time and effort that needs to be spent on yard maintenance. 

Xeriscaping is drought-resistant landscaping that requires little water, which makes it perfect for weathering Texas heat. Natural rainfall should be the only water that xeriscaping needs.

Some xeriscaping methods you can try include:

  • Replacing flower beds with rock gardens or decorative rocks
  • Utilizing hardscapes to take up space
  • Planting only succulents or drought-tolerant plants
  • Creating a container garden with potted plants instead of using a traditional flower bed.
  • Hydrozoning by grouping together plants with similar water requirements
  • Use mulch to help your soil retain moisture
  • Seed your lawn with a drought-tolerant grass
  • Avoid turfgrass
  • Use efficient irrigation systems such as a drip irrigation or sprinklers with built-in rain sensors

Try one or several of these ideas to reduce the amount of yard work. Every little bit helps, so even if you can’t afford to redo your whole landscape at once, you can slowly add one succulent at a time until, eventually, your yard requires little to no water. 

Advantages of xeriscaping:

  • Needs little to no watering
  • Conserves valuable water resources
  • Less mowing
  • Prevents weed growth
  • Doesn’t need fertilizer or pesticide applications

Estimated Cost: Depending on the nature and scope of the project, xeriscaping projects usually cost $8,737 to $22,226. The upfront cost is expensive, but xeriscaping saves a lot of money on landscaping maintenance in the long run since it reduces both monetary and time costs for watering, fertilizing, and mowing. 

8. Use Hardscapes in Your Yard

A picture showing patio of a house alongwith backyard lawn

Photo Credit: Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Some homeowners don’t want to deal with a lawn at all, so instead of dealing with a vegetative lawn, you could add more hardscapes to your lawn. Hardscapes take up space that your grass lawn would normally occupy, reducing the area where grass or other plants can grow. And with less lawn comes less mowing. 

Hardscapes generally require little maintenance other than occasional cleaning, which is much less intensive than the regular upkeep of grass lawns.

Some ideas for hardscapes include:

  • Decorative rocks
  • Rock gardens
  • Stone pavers
  • Garden walkways
  • Retaining walls
  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Pergolas
  • Gazebos
  • Decks
  • Fire pits

Advantages of using hardscapes:

  • Decreases the amount of the yard that needs to be mowed, watered, fertilized, trimmed, or weeded
  • Hardscapes are home improvements that increase the value and curb appeal of your home
  • Conserves water resources
  • Many hardscapes have recreational or practical uses

Estimated Cost: The cost of a hardscape depends on the type and scope of the hardscaping project. If you’re looking for a hardscape project that fits your budget, here is a list of price ranges for different hardscape projects:

Decorative rock$460 – $1,000
Rock garden$460 – $1,000
Stone paver$8 – $22 per square foot
Pergola $2,000 – $9,000
Gazebo$4,828 – $9,930
Patio$2,000 – $6,500
Deck$4,000 – $11,000
Fire pit $500 – $3,000
Retaining wall$3,622 – $9582

9. Mulch Your Plant Beds

Mulch is as useful as it is simple. Applying mulch to your yard is a simple matter of buying a bag of mulch and spreading a layer of mulch over your flower bed. After that, it’s just a matter of leaving mulch to do its thing.

Mulch acts as a protective layer over the dirt of your plant bed by keeping moisture in and weeds out. There are two different categories of mulch to choose from: 

  • Organic mulch is made from the natural plant material and can be made from tree bark, grass clippings, or pine needles. Organic mulch decomposes quickly and has to be replaced every so often.
  • Inorganic mulch is made of stone, rubber, or plastic. They don’t break down and so don’t need to be replaced as frequently as organic mulches. 

Advantages of mulching:

  • Reduces the number of weeds in your plant beds
  • Retains moisture in your plant beds
  • Inexpensive; some organic mulches can be made from materials found around your yard
  • Conserves water resources
  • Saves on water bills
  • Easy DIY job
  • Slows down the deterioration of soil
  • Regulates soil temperature
  • Improves home curb appeal

Estimated Cost: The price is dependent upon the type of mulch, as each mulch type has a different price tag. 

  • Wood mulch:  $3 to $5 per 2-cubic-foot bag
  • Rubber mulch: $7 to $10 per 0.8-cubic-foot bag
  • Landscape gravel: $4 to $30 per 0.5-cubic-foot bag
  • Bark mulch: $65 per cubic yard
  • Wood chips: $70 per cubic yard

10. Get an Automatic Sprinkler System

water coming out of automatic sprinklers

Photo Credit: Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

An automatic irrigation system can save you a lot of time and energy spent on watering. Instead of watering your yard by hand, an automatic irrigation system allows you to pre-program your sprinklers for when and how long you want them to water your lawn.

Sprinklers can even be installed with a sensor that allows them to automatically adjust according to the local water levels. 

Installing an automatic underground irrigation system might be an expensive investment, but it will save you a lot of time and make things easier for you and your lawn in the long term. 

Advantages of an automatic irrigation system:

  • Conserves water
  • Reduces water bill costs
  • Distributes water evenly around the yard
  • Automatically waters the lawn when water levels are too low
  • More eco-friendly than watering with a hose

Estimated Cost: On average, installing an automatic irrigation system will cost between $2,400 and $4,200. Above-ground sprinkler head attachments are much cheaper: between $9 and $36. However, they are not as convenient, as they can’t be automatically programmed like an in-ground sprinkler system

FAQs About Low-Maintenance Texas Landscapes

Is it better to use rocks or mulch?

Whether you surround your landscaping plants with mulch or rocks is a matter of personal preference, as both stone and mulch offer benefits for your landscaping. 

• Both are customizable and come in a variety of colors, textures, types, and shapes.
• Organic mulch requires more maintenance since it has to be replaced every so often.
• As it breaks down, mulch provides nutrients for the plants and soil.
• Rock mulch has more expensive up-front costs but the long-term costs are cheaper than wood mulch
• Gravel is better for high-traffic areas
• Wood mulch is better at retaining water while rock mulch tends to dry out the soil
• Rocks are fireproof, making them good for dry areas in Texas that are prone to wildfires

What is the most drought-tolerant grass for South Texas?

Bermudagrass, buffalograss, and Zoysiagrass are the best drought-tolerant lawn grasses for South Texas. They can endure long dry spells and high amounts of foot traffic, making them good low-maintenance grasses for your lawn. 

How do I make my own mulch?

For homeowners who don’t want to spend money on mulch, it is possible to make your own, as several different things found around your yard can be used for mulch:

Compost from your compost bin. 
Grass clippings from when you mow your lawn. 
Leaves can be raked and then run over with a lawnmower to break them down into mulch-sized pieces for your plant beds. 
Pine needles can be chopped up in a wood chipper to cut them into mulch-size pieces. 
Tree branches in your yard can be run through a wood chipper and converted to mulch for your plant beds. 

If you don’t own a wood chipper – most people don’t – rent one from a hardware store or home improvement center like Home Depot or Lowes. Organic mulch has to be replenished more frequently than inorganic mulch, but it can act as fertilizer for your plants as well by providing nutrients to your soil and plants. 

Escape the Heat This Summer

Redoing your yard’s infrastructure can reduce or eliminate lawn care maintenance. The more you minimize the yard work that needs to be done, the more you can enjoy the air-conditioned indoors and kick back with a cool glass of lemonade. 
If the job seems too daunting to tackle on your own, consider using a lawn care pro near you? We have trusted pros in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Pflugerville, San Antonio, and many more cities across the Lone Star State.

Main Image Credit: Victoria, Texas / Surely Shirly / Flickr / CC0 1.0

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!