Creating Low Maintenance Gardens
While no garden is maintenance free, it is possible to create a garden with relatively few demands. Careful planning, proper plant selection and thoughtful design are essential to creating a low maintenance landscape which retains a garden’s aesthetic qualities. Go to Gardening Info for plant and design inspiration.
Analyze your site thoroughly. Observe the sun and shade conditions and test your soil for Ph level and composition. Through site analysis you’ll be more informed as to what plants are appropriate for your garden. Gardens planned with forethought will require less maintenance as your plants will thrive and experience less stress.
Group new shrubs into planting beds; they’re generally easier to maintain in the garden than several sporadic individual plants. Though flowers are higher upkeep than other types of plants, few would want to banish them from the garden completely. Perennials require some work, such as deadheading, though the season but they return and flower year after year. After the initial investment and planting, perennials are easy to maintain. Annuals on the other hand, require deadheading, frequent watering and need to be replanted every year. If you decide to plant flowers in your garden, use only a few and place them where they’ll have the highest impact.
When designing your garden, remember, planting beds which are slightly curved or straight will be easier to mow around than those which are more complex. Edging planting beds will help keep weeds out of the lawn and grass out of the bed, reducing the need for weeding. There are many materials which work well as an edging. Plastic and metal edging are found at most nurseries and can be curved to follow the shape of the bed. Be sure to mulch the shrub beds after planting, this will help reduce the growth of weeds as well as help the soil retain moisture.
Reintroduce nature into your garden to create landscapes which are self-sustaining. A woodland garden is a great low maintenance landscape which utilizes many native species of trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants native to particular area will generally require less maintenance than those plants which are introduced. Native plants have proven their ability to survive in your local climate and site conditions. They’ll also be less likely to succumb to disease and extreme conditions. Native species will create more diversity in the garden as well as a habitat for native wildlife.
Wildflower meadows are another type of landscape which requires very little maintenance. Meadows are noted for their stability and wide diversity of plants resulting in vibrant colors and textures. Like the woodland garden a meadow will require very little maintenance after some initial work. Once a year, preferably in the fall after the seeds have dropped from the plants, mow the field with the blades at a high setting. This will allow the plants to get an early start in the spring. It also removes any tree and shrub saplings from taking over the site.
Aside from recreating native landscapes in your garden, proper plant selection is important when planning a low maintenance garden. For example, consider replacing some lawn areas with groundcover. Groundcover can greatly reduce the upkeep in the garden while adding a variety of textures and colors. Though groundcovers vary in the amount of required maintenance all groundcovers should be considered low maintenance. Only occasional pruning is necessary to keep groundcovers from creeping into the lawn or garden beds.
Pruning shrubs is one of gardening’s most important and laborious tasks. Some shrubs are fast growers which need pruning at least few times each season. Selecting slow growing shrubs will greatly reduce or eliminate the need for pruning. During the plant selection process, be sure to choose shrubs which will not outgrow their allotted space so there’ll be no need for transplanting in the future.
Evaluate your needs before you begin planning your garden. Consider the amount of time you’ll be able to devote to the garden. With proper planning and some initial investment of time and labor you’ll be able to enjoy and carefree garden for years.