How do you create a low maintenance garden? Huge gardens sound great in theory. They also look fantastic outside stately homes, on our screens on ‘Gardeners World’ and on our Pinterest boards. But in reality, very few people have the time to keep them looking their best – the biggest gardens can be a full-time job to maintain.
But with some careful consideration and planning, it is possible for you to have a garden that is easy to maintain but still beautiful to enjoy. Gardening expert Greenhouse Sensation tells you how…
Say goodbye to the grass
A thick, lush lawn is every gardener’s dream, but if you’re short on time and want something that’s easy to maintain you might want to let it go. Deep gravel or stone paths are better for walkways. They drain water easily and don’t require the constant maintenance that a lawn does – sometimes in summer this can escalate to weekly. Stones or gravel can easily support high amounts of traffic, but you could also pave it or build decking instead.
If you simply have to have a lawn, keep it a very simple shape. For example, a small patch of rectangular grass can be cut in 10 minutes, whereas an irregular shape with tricky edges can take far longer.
Still want the look and feel of grass without the maintenance? Opt for artificial grass. The technology has come a long way and many of the options out there closely resemble the real thing.
Bigger is better
Hear us out on this one. If you’re looking for low maintenance then you may be wondering why we’re recommending big. But the truth is that bigger flower beds overflowing with life and colour from a tight mish-mash of plants actually requires a lot less pruning and grooming to control compared with a small and neat flower bed.
Be smart with plants
Obviously the only true way to have a low maintenance garden is to get rid of all plants, but what kind of garden is that? Unfortunately there is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance’ plant, unless you’re going to let the wild reclaim your garden. Instead, simply be smart when it comes to your plants and opt for ones that are as unfussy as possible. Evergreens are a solid option, and cacti and succulents are strong and hardy – they practically look after themselves. And although they may look lovely climbing up the walls, creepers are a rambunctious lot that are difficult to tame.
If you want to add a touch of colour, opt for shrubs that are considered low maintenance such as…
- Choisya ‘Ternata’
- Viburnum Davidii
- Vinca Major
- Pieris ‘Forest Flame’
- Aucuba Japonica
- Skimmia Japonica
Avoid plants that are tender, or at least a large amount of them. Many plants are sensitive to even slightest changes in the weather, let alone when the frost starts to creep in. Steer clear of plants that require seasonal tasks like wrapping for winter, annual propagation, lifting and moving. Your best option are hardy and tough plants that can survive outdoors all year round.
Mulch ado about nothing
You’ve chosen your shrubs, now it’s time to plant them. When you come to adding them to your borders, cover the ground around them in mulch, bark or stone as this will help to suppress weeds (less work for you) and will keep the soil damp (less watering required). Bark chipping and coloured stones are the most natural looking options out there, but if you’d prefer something a little more contemporary you can opt for glass or rubber chippings.
Although they may seem like a good option for keeping things neat and tidy, plants in containers need a great deal of maintenance and looking after. Planting up, feeding, watering, repotting, handling… the list goes on! If these are a must have in your garden, again, bigger is better as the greater volume of compost means it won’t dry out as quick.
Water features and ponds
These can look fantastic but they do need a great deal of care. Fortunately there are few things you can do to cut back on work. To cut back on the need for filters and pumps in your pond, don’t introduce fish as ponds without wildlife and fish settle into their own natural rhythm which means you’ll spend less time removing algae and weeds.
The ‘no dig’ method
Good quality soils often go hand in hand with a solid structure, which means that you can use the ‘no dig’ method to save a great deal of time and energy. This cuts out the need for regular cultivation through the use of mulches that suppress weeds such as the ones we’ve spoken about earlier like bark and manure. Basically, leave the soil alone and it’ll look after itself!