It is increasingly the Holy Grail of garden designs: making a landscape low maintenance. For many reasons, reducing the work load of our outdoor spaces has become a priority.
- We are busy with many activities
- We are aging
- Viewing flowers rather than weeding flowerbeds is preferable
That is not the definitive list, by any means, but it does hit the highlights of why this style of landscaping is increasing in desirability.
What are the Characteristics of Easy Care Yardspaces?
- Perennial Plantings. The more permanent the planting, the less work it involves annually. Chores of caring for the plants are still present, but the larger larger spaces that are taken up by the individuals and groups of trees, shrubs, and long lived herbaceous flowers will cut down on weeding and replanting.
- Larger Groups. This is basic to good design, too. using a larger number of the same kind reduces work in two ways: symbiotic health of the plants is increased and the required care is given to the whole grouping.
- Like-minded Plants. Culturally harmonious in moisture fertility, and light requirements means they stay happy together and the gardener doesn’t have to cater to one or two unhappy plants in the group.
- Hardy and Tolerant. Under your garden conditions, the plants should be varieties that are easier to care for to begin with… persnickety ones demand more cultivation, attention, and replacement.
- Mowing Ease. In your design, tailor the shape of beds and tree wells, as well as the position of low hanging branches to aid in ease of lawn maintenance (if you have a lawn).
Those are my top 5 tips for creating a more low maintenance space.
More Gardening Tips
A formal, manicured style is much more work than a naturalistic design.
There are other refinements like using mulch to suppress weeds and conserve moisture.
Increasing the amount of shrubbery for fragrance, flowers, and foliage interest is another improvement to be made in most landscapes. Don’t overlook the value of well-behaved shrubs.
One consideration related to suggestion #5 is whether a plant is a thug, having invasive traits. Think, before introducing it to the garden. Sometimes it is a fine line of definition that divides the ground covers from the invasives. Find out “what is considered what” in your own area of the country.
Soil building is foundational to better gardens with less care.
1 Starting over from scratch in designing the yard might be the quickest way to ensure that it adheres to all the best practices in lowering the workload. Use hardscaping to control and access portions of the garden. Plant only easy to grow, healthy trees, shrubs, and flowers.
2 Most of us are in the second group, however. We inherited a garden, and important large trees, or we have a love of growing a wide number of things, both easy and more challenging. Yet, the need to have a less demanding landscape is imperative for us.
For gardeners in the second group, some hard decisions need to be made: removing certain plants and even woody specimens. Forgoing types of plantings or styles that are labor intensive is another choice sometimes made, sometimes forced upon us.
Both efforts -whether starting from the beginning or taking over an established landscape- benefit from improving the soils with compost and amendments.
Perennial Plant Examples to Use
Take a look at any public planted spaces and you will quickly find an array of what landscapers choose:
- Russian Sage
- Ornamental grasses
Those backbone species don’t need to be the entire composition of your own place, but can start out your short list of easy care plants. Use choices planted in berms and along roadways to give you ideas for what works well in your climate and/or urban conditions.
The Most Important Consideration
The garden should serve the home and the people in it. At the same time, recognizing that it fits in the greater ecology of the planet, the use of the earth surrounding our houses should be healthy for plants, animals, and humans alike.
Lower maintenance goals work alongside this greater one, since designing in tandem with nature means the garden will require less to look good. The plants are healthy when they have the soil, light, and moisture that is best for their needs. They will then need little to no interference of chemical support.