'This planting is so low-maintenance, we can ignore it forever' – according to John Gidding

The HGTV designer says we can elevate our yard with this planting – and it's almost too unbelievably easy to care for

John Gidding
(Image credit: ScottsMiracle-Gro Greenprints x John Gidding)

John Gidding, the star of HGTV's Curb Appeal, is an expert in exactly that: curb appeal. The designer has shaped how our exteriors look for more than a decade, in which time he's learned which planting requires the most care – and the ones we can ignore. It's the latter of these we were particularly interested in discussing. 

While we all want to improve our curb appeal, finding the time to maintain our front yard landscaping is not always easy – but as John explains, there is a solution in the shape of native planting. 

'If you want to elevate your yard but keep things low-maintenance, I recommend native plants. Specifically, look for drought-tolerant plants that don't mind being left alone for a very long time: their root systems typically reach so deep into the ground that they can pull up the water that they need. They're happy with the natural precipitation that might show up in your area,' he says in an interview with H&G.

'Even if you ignore your plants forever, natives are the way to go because they will thrive with the natural precipitation of your area.'

drought-tolerant plants in front yard

(Image credit: Saxon Holt / Alamy Stock Photo)

No matter our lifestyle, we can leave native plants to grow and enjoy their aesthetic and sustainable benefits without a thought. However, they're not the only low-maintenance solution. John also recommends succulents, but it's worth noting that these do require some care, even if it is only occasionally. 

'Typically, succulents are non-native to most people who use them, but yet they store water inside, and they thrive when being left alone,' John says.

'If you're an infrequent waterer, go with succulents. And, for easy ground cover, get rid of grass. If you're willing to make the big jump – and it is a big jump for a lot of people to get rid of grass – it's a great thing to do. It makes gardening much easier.'

John Gidding-designed front door
John Gidding

Turkish-American designer and Harvard graduate John Gidding is best known as a presenter on Curb Appeal, in which he and his team spend $20,000 on improvements to a front yard. He was also one of the expert judges on the Fox TV show Home Free and has recently relaunched the Curb Appeal Xtreme on HGTV. 

front yard with plants and path

(Image credit: Yardzen)

In smaller yards, especially those in the city, John also recommends container gardening, which, too, requires occasional care but little enough that it can likely work for many people. 

'Container gardening is approachable, especially for urban dwellers, because you can get self-watering containers [such as these from Amazon] that keep a little reservoir of water at the bottom,' he recommends. 'This keeps the soil moist enough to allow you to ignore the plants for a little while.' Meanwhile, however, native plants keep going forever.

 'Choosing the right native plant can be difficult, but this website is a good resource,' John adds.'There are also lots of communities out there to help people pick the right plant for the right plant, but having a conversation with your local nursery is also super helpful.' We're also taking more tips from his book.

Whether we opt for native planting or some easy-to-care-for succulents, these solutions will set the right first impression we want from our yard – and we won't ever need to think twice. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.