How can I make my garden low maintenance?
We live in a rather incredible but hectic world. And with such busy family, professional and social lives to manage one type of garden is more appealing than ever. That’s the low maintenance garden. And by low maintenence we don’t mean uninspiring. Far from it. You might prefer a low maintenance garden area, or it might just be that you have no other option because you are a non gardener, you’re renting, raising a family or just enjoying your retirement too much to have time to allocate to the garden. Whatever the reason it’s easy to get something that looks fantastic and works for you by planning and designing the outdoor space you have with that in mind. Something David Andersen garden designs knows exactly how to do. No need to become a slave to your garden. If you are short on time, ability or enthusiasm then here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Low Maintenance Garden Do’s:
Design and plan
What do you like and how much time have you got? Do you enjoy growing herbs and a few vegetables, but don’t want to prune flower beds? If you begin by asking yourself what you enjoy doing in the garden then you’ve already decided on the level of maintenance and can focus on keeping everything else as low management as possible.
Choose the right plants
The definition of a weed is a plant in the wrong place, and the beauty of using a garden designer is that he or she will know what to do. A good choice of plants means not having to come back in three years time to take something out or seriously cut it back because it quickly outgrew its space.
Most shrubs are a lot easier to maintain than herbaceous perennials for example. There are many shrubs that require almost no maintenance for example camellias, small and medium sized rhododendrons, and azaleas.
There are many shrubs that will need cutting back every two or three years. This is not such an onerous process but does require some plant knowledge. I can recommend an excellent RHS book entitled “Pruning” to help with this chore.
It would be a folly to suggest that when planning your garden you only choose those shrubs that grow to a max of 1 to 2 metres. You would lose too many exciting possibilities in your garden. So some pruning will be inevitable and finding someone to help with this may not be easy since there are many maintenance gardeners around without the necessary skills for pruning. They may attack your garden aggressively with the nearest power tool (most likely a hedge trimmer)!
Where possible seek out a knowledgeable plant person to come once or twice a year to get your plants back into shape.
In my own garden this spring I noticed when planting annuals in pots I subconsciously choose plants that are draught tolerant such as geranium, begonia rex, cistus, and salvias. I love petunias, but sometimes even with constant watering, midway through summer they can appear tired and stressed. So choosing plants carefully from a draught tolerant list can mean less watering (and less expense on water bills).
Keep the Hedge
Yes you’ll need to trim it every year, but it’s often less work than fencing.
It’s important to choose the right variety of hedge, one that will not take over your life. Examples to avoid are lleylandii, and some of the big laurels. It’s better to go with the slower growing types, such as escallonia, barberry, and yew.
Without a doubt the greatest way of keeping down your garden maintenance chores is to use mulch. If done correctly you can spend more weekends sitting and enjoying your garden and less time weeding it.
Mulching consists of some material such as gravel, bark, coconut shells, or slate that is used to cover the bare soil. It’s a good idea to use these over some sort of geotextile (Terram or Weedtex), this will keep weeds to an absolute minimum and will keep the soil warm and keep evaporation to a minimum.
A low maintenance garden need not be bland or uninspired. It just requires extra thought to create a design for your space that is efficient and beautiful, that meets your needs without adding extra work.