Make Peace With the Trees: Low-Maintenance Landscape Trees

Tired of cleaning up after your trees? Here are some ideas to reduce your tree maintenance.


The whisper of the wind through the trees and the graceful arc of a falling leaf: who doesn’t like that? While landscaping trees are lovely to look at, for retirees and those with busy jobs, cleaning fall leaves can be a big chore. What landscaping trees are lowest in maintenance needs, and where should you plant them to ensure that they’re easy to care for?

Petals, Leaves, and Fruit

When you’re looking for a landscaping tree that is very low maintenance, look at the annual cycle of the tree, from flowers and leaves to fruit. Flowering tees such as the magnolia are beautiful, but they have many, many petals to clean. Fruit trees such as an old apple tree provide many years of tasty fruit, but only if you want to use it. Evergreen trees shed needles throughout the year but require less fall maintenance. If you’d like a more broadleafed plant that doesn’t drop its leaves, look to large evergreen shrubs such as a rhododendron or a camellia.

Know Your Tree’s Needs

While trees in nature tend to prune themselves and may or may not fall to disease, you want your tree to stay strong and healthy. Many high-maintenance trees are simply trees that are planted in the wrong place. If your tree suffers from constant disease and frequently drops its leaves during a dry period, you likely have the wrong tree for your space.

Dealing With Drought

If you live in a drought-prone environment, you’ll need to choose tough, drought-tolerant trees or your trees may suffer from disease. The male gingko is a hardy tree, as is the red maple, the American elm, the hawthorn, and the American cypress. If you’re trying to establish a new tree and want to avoid watering a lot in drought conditions, go for a drought tolerant variety.


If you dislike pruning, choose slow-growing trees or ones that require little pruning.


Drop Those Pruning Shears

If you’re tired of pruning, choose a slow-growing tree such as a yew. Most evergreen trees require less pruning than deciduous trees. If you don’t mind pruning but dislike ladders and tough branches, choose a large, easy to prune shrub. The honeysuckle, mock orange, and lilac are all larger shrubs with thin, easy access branches that tolerate heavy pruning. If you’re installing a deciduous tree, choose a variety that is naturally small or on dwarf rootstock. When you choose a tree that naturally stays small, you won’t have a constant fight to keep it that way.

Location, Location

When you’re installing a new tree, think about its location in relation to your home. Do you want it near your house, where it will provide shade but may drop leaves and branches into your gutters and onto your roof? If so, install low-maintenance gutter guards so that the leaves are not a problem. Can you place a shade and swing tree somewhere where its leaves will drop in a place where they can stay there and enrich the soil? If you’re going to rake or blow the leaves, make sure your tree is easy to access with your equipment.

When you’re designing landscaping for your home and want to incorporate a tree, talk to Harry Helmet. Our gutter systems will help you reduce your landscape maintenance. You can enjoy your trees without the need to clean your gutters. Contact us today.

Written by Del Thebaud

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