Your Home, Your Investment: Low Maintenance Gardening
So you want a nice garden or yard where you can relax and entertain your family and friends but you don’t want to be a slave to keeping it looking up. While there is no such thing as a no maintenance garden, you can look at a low maintenance landscaping plan that requires minimal effort to maintain.
What is low maintenance landscaping?
A low maintenance landscape reduces the amount and frequency gardening activities. The type and number of features and plants will determine the amount and frequency of watering, weeding, pruning, deadheading and dividing you will need to invest. The best plan will move the frequency of maintenance activities from daily or weekly to monthly or seasonally. As you plan a low maintenance garden, you will want to consider landscaping design features, plant selection and ongoing maintenance requirements.
Landscaping Design Features
What design features will reduce the gardening activities I need to do weekly or daily? As you plan and continuously improve your garden, consider the following design features:
1) Outdoor Living Areas: Add outdoor living areas such as patios and porches, to reduce the amount of green space that needs to be maintained. It is critical that patios and walkways be built on a solid foundation and in a proper manner. Otherwise, you will have unwanted weeds and ultimately increase your maintenance.2) Plant Areas/Flowerbeds: Establish plant areas or flowerbeds with edging, landscape fabric and mulch or river stone. Avoid over-planting flowerbeds. Plan for the mature width and height of plants. Over-crowding can negatively impact the appearance of your garden.3) Ground Cover: Do not overlook a grass lawn as part of your design as ground cover. It takes a lot of plants to cover the same space as a grass lawn. Gardens without grasses tend to be warmer.
As you establish your garden, it will be important to understand the lot conditions and select plants are compatible with those conditions and easy to maintain. Study the information on specific plants online or on labels attached to plants. Consider the following points.
1) Light and Soil Conditions: Consider what areas are shady, sunny or partially shady or sunny and select plants accordingly. Know whether your soil is sandy or clay-like and select plants accordingly.2) Drought-Resistant Plants: Select drought-resistant plants to reduce the need to water. Here are some to consider: Grasses, Marigolds, Portulaca, Sedum, Cricks & Hens, Daylilies, Lavender, etc. Please note that new plants will require more water until they are established.3) Slow-Growing Foundation Plants: Select slow-growing foundation plants to reduce the need to prune and trim plants. Limit pruning to 1-2 times per year. Here are some plants to consider: Green Mountain Boxwood, Peonies, Draft Norway Spruce, Blue Fescue Grass, etc.4) Perennials: Select more perennials than annuals. Perennials are planted once and come back year after year. Perennials, once established, will have roots deep into the soil, reducing the need to water and the need to deadhead. Annuals need to be planted each year and will require more watering.
Ongoing Maintenance Requirements
Once you have designed your garden to fit your taste and burden level, you will want to look at preventative maintenance as a key part of your plan. Here are some suggestions to help make the garden maintenance so much easier.
1) Interlocking Stone: Apply polymer sand to the crevices of interlocking patios and walkway blocks to reduce the growth of weeds.2) Flowerbed Mulch or Stone: Replenish flowerbed mulch or stone annually, as needed. This will prevent the growth of weeds and improve moisture retention of the soil.3) Pruning: Plan to prune or trim your slow-growing foundation plants in the spring and/or fall according to their specific care.4) Weeds and Moss: Spray weeds and moss with vinegar. This will not only look after the menace but also prevent future issues.5) Gardening Tools: Invest in the proper gardening tools to do the minimal work you need to do. There is an L-shaped weeding tool you could not live without.