Benefits of a low-maintenance garden

Posted on: 01 June 2015 by Gareth Hargreaves

Create an easy-care garden and maintain it in next to no time.

low maintenance garden

With adjustments to your existing plot, or strategic planning when building from scratch, you can enjoy a beautiful garden even if you have little time or energy to look after it. Most high-maintenance plants and schemes have low-maintenance alternatives, and many routine jobs can be omitted altogether.

Who needs a low-maintenance garden?

We simply do not have as much time as we used to, and yet the garden is increasingly seen as a sanctuary and an antidote to modern living. Whether you are pursuing a career, working odd shifts, spending hours commuting, or looking after a young family, you will need to find a way to manage your garden more easily.

New gardeners may lack confidence in their abilities and want to start simply, and some homeowners are not particularly interested in the practical side of gardening, yet still appreciate and desire an attractive outdoor space. Older gardeners may find they no longer have the physical strength and energy to cultivate in the way they used to or, adopting a more carefree lifestyle, might be too busy travelling to garden regularly! And, if you are one of the increasing number of buy-to-let landlords, you may only be able to visit your properties a few times a year.

Creative design and planting will ensure that ultra easy-care gardens like the urban plot pictured are attractive, practical, and never boring.

How much time do you have?

When designing your garden, first think about how often you will have time to maintain it.

Weekends If you have a few hours at the weekend, you may only have time to mow the lawn, do a little deadheading and tidying, and perhaps some hand-weeding, hoeing or hedge-trimming. Drought-tolerant shrubs and flowers in pots will tolerate weekly watering.

Once a month Lawns are not a good idea if you can only tackle gardening tasks once a month. Instead, replace them with paving, decking, or gravel. Reduce deadheading and pruning with a selection of easy-care plants, and install an automatic watering system.

A few times a year Gardening only once in a while restricts your options, so choose a combination of low-maintenance plants and hard landscaping. You can then limit jobs to tidying borders, cutting back old growth on perennials in late winter, and occasionally pruning overgrowth trees and shrubs.

With easy-care gardening strategies in place, you can cut down on regular or seasonal chores like raking leaves and lawn maintenance.

Time-saving tips

Watering Select drought-tolerant specimens, and plant in autumn or spring to cut down the need to water whilst the roots are establishing. Fit pots with automatic irrigation.

Feeding Mulch with manure in late winter to keep the soil fertile. Once or twice a year, feed flowering plants, including those in containers, using a slow-release fertilizer.

Deadheading Choose plants with ornamental seedheads and avoid any that need deadheading to keep them blooming. Tidy ground-cover perennials and lavenders with shears.

Weeding Cover the ground with a weed-suppressing fabric camouflaged with gravel. Spray weeds with systemic weedkiller to kill the roots. Avoid soil disturbance and self-seeding plants.

Mowing Choose an easy-care grass seed mix. Reduce the lawn size and buy an efficient mower. Install a brick mowing strip next to borders and walls to cut the need for edging.

Pruning Choose evergreens, as they rarely need pruning, and plants that only need one cut a year, such as Buddleja davidii. Avoid over-vigorous shrubs and allow plants room to grow.

Easy Care Garden - Dorkling KindersleyThis extract is taken from DK Royal Horticultural Society Easy-care Garden - simple steps to success, by Jenny Hendy, which you can purchase at all good book shops or online from Amazon.

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