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Best Plants for the Top Chicago Gardens

What to Plant to Have the Best Garden in Chicago

Chicago is known for having beautiful gardens. The city even made it their motto: “urbs in horto” or “city in a garden”. One of the hardest parts of gardening is deciding what to plant. Some plants are invasive and others can only survive under specific conditions. If you aren’t sure what to plant in your Chicago garden, keep reading. We’ll discuss some of the best plants to keep your garden healthy and beautiful. 

When choosing plants for your garden, start by considering what you’re looking for. Are you interested in something pretty but low maintenance? Or are you more concerned with the cost? Many gardeners are also looking for something beautiful that doesn’t break the bank. Others are looking for easy outdoor plants. As we discuss the best plants for your garden, we’ll consider cost, care, and appearance. 

Gardening has amazing benefits. Many people use gardening as a way to stay active. Gardening uses many muscles that might not otherwise get exercise. Bending, moving, and stretching can keep your body active and healthy. Gardening can even help you fight disease. All that vitamin D from being outside is shown to help improve your immune system. 

Not only does gardening help your body, it even strengthens your mind. Gardening keeps your mind engaged and active. Some studies have shown that gardening improves dementia symptoms. Gardening is a relaxing yet engaging activity that sharpens your mind while also relaxing you. Spending time outside among nature can have a serious impact on your mood, making you feel calm and happy. As you garden, remember all of the benefits gardening has on your mind and body. 


Front Yard Plants

When deciding what to plant in your front yard, consider native plants. Native plants are very cost-effective since you won’t have to spend as much money caring for them. Native plants can thrive in Chicago’s climate without the need for expensive fertilizer, constant watering, or special soil treatments. Additionally, native plants help the environment around them. They attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Flowers make some of the best plants to place in your front yard. 



If you want to add some color to your garden while attracting pollinators, try planting oakleaf hydrangeas. Oakleaf hydrangea is a shrub that grows very well in Chicago weather. The perennial plant is very hardy, but does require pretty moist soil. It produces beautiful pink or red flowers that will entice butterflies and hummingbirds to visit your garden.  

Pale purple coneflower is another perennial plant that would look amazing in your front yard. As the name implies, this plant has pale purple flowers that almost resemble daisies. These flowers are very rich in nectar which means that they’re sure to attract a lot of pollinators to your yard. 

If your yard has fences, try planting climbing roses. These beautiful flowers grow along structures, making them a great opportunity to beautify a boring fence. Unfortunately, they do require a little more work than some other plants. Because they don’t cling to any surfaces on their own, they’ll need to grow along trellises. Any work you put into maintaining these plants is definitely going to pay off once you see how wonderful they look flowering along your fences. 

Best Plants for Front of House 

While flowers are a staple in any garden, you want to balance them out with other plants. Your yard simply isn’t complete without gorgeous trees, shrubs, and bushes. 

When deciding what trees would look best in your yard, there are a few things to consider. One of these is space. If you’re limited in the amount of space you have, but still want to plant a tree, consider planting a crabapple tree. Some crabapple trees only grow to 10 feet tall, making them ideal for small yards. They produce pink or white flowers. The fruit they produce is also sure to attract stunning birds to your yard. Crabapple trees add some shade and privacy to your home while also being easy to maintain. 

If you have a little more space in your yard, you may want to plant an oak tree. There are several different types of oak trees that can thrive in Chicago’s climate. White oak, swamp oak, and shingle oak are just some of the oak trees that are native to Illinois. 

After you’ve planted your trees, you can plant beautiful bushes to grow right alongside them. The elderberry bush grows black, edible berries that support immune health. Or, if you want a bush that will stand out, pick the bridal wreath spirea. When it flowers, this bush will be covered in adorable white flowers. Similarly unique, the ninebark bush has beautiful red, rusty tones that would beautifully stand out in a garden. 


Easy Outdoor Plants

The easiest outdoor plants are typically ones native to the area. Since they’re native, they won’t require much care to thrive in their conditions. While not every native species is going to be easy to care for, they’re usually pretty low maintenance. Even among native plants, there are some that are easier to take care of. These will be the plants we discuss: the absolutely easiest plants for Chicago gardens. 

If you’re looking to easily add beautiful flowers to your Chicago garden, plant butterfly weed. Butterfly weed isn’t actually a weed. It’s a bush that produces bright orange flowers that attract pollinators. They require sun, but not much water. They’re very low maintenance and don’t require much water which makes them very drought resistant. They can survive in areas with a lot of drainage. In fact, too much water or fertilizer can hurt the plant. Butterfly weed is very easy to take care of while attracting butterflies to your garden. 

Weigela is another easy outdoor plant. This plant can grow in most sun or shade. It’s a resilient plant that produces pink flowers. While they will require more watering when they’re first planted, once they’re adjusted they will be very low maintenance. 

Lastly, daylilies are some of the easiest plants to care for. Daylilies can tolerate wet and dry conditions. They’re pretty resistant to bugs as well. In general, daylilies are very easy to take care of because of how resistant they are. There’s even a variety called the “Chicago Apache”.


Gardening in Chicago

When trying to find the best plants to add to your Chicago garden, it’s usually best to stick with plants native to the area. It’s hard to go wrong with beautiful hydrangeas or strong oak trees. If you’re looking for plants that are easy to care for, consider planting butterfly weed, weigela, or daylilies. You can’t go wrong with any of these plants. Plant just some of them and you’re sure to have the best garden in Chicago. When you aren’t sure how to maintain the best garden in Chicago, check out Arbeen Landscaping. 

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