Even the keenest gardeners will admit that tending a garden can be a time consuming task. But what if it didn’t have to be?
Using plants that are adapted to your local climate and soil types can significantly reduce the amount of watering and care required.
Grouping plants by their water and light requirements can also help reduce maintenance. And incorporating hardscaping like pathways and patios can reduce the need for weeding and pruning.
Keep it simple
Garden maintenance is much easier when plants are planted in the right place and tended with good cultural practices. Avoid planting overly ambitious plants that will quickly outgrow their space and require a lot of work to keep looking good.
Choose native species that are adapted to your climate and soil. These tough, drought-resistant plants can withstand your local conditions and thrive with minimal watering or fertilizers. Plus, they benefit pollinators and other native wildlife!
Consider replacing lawns with a low-maintenance hardscape, such as gravel or slate. This will reduce the amount of time spent mowing and weeding.
Aim for a naturalistic look in the flower beds, rather than manicured English or French gardens. Billowing borders filled with a jumble of easy-care perennials, such as echinaceas and salvias, are beautiful and attract pollinators. Or try scattering handfuls of meadow-mix annuals for a wilder touch that will only need cutting back after the first flush of bloom.
Don’t overdo it
For a low maintenance garden, you want to keep plants as self-sufficient as possible. Choose self-clinging climbers like ivy or Virginia creeper to attach themselves to walls and fences, rather than using wires or trellis which require frequent maintenance. Paint and stain woodwork as opposed to painting and varnishing it, which means you’ll have less work to do every few years to refresh the finish.
If you’re looking to reduce your garden work, mulch regularly with a layer of organic matter such as bark chippings or gravel. This will stop weeds growing and keep moisture in the soil.
If you really want a low maintenance garden, limit the number of plant varieties in your design. This will make it easier to care for the ones you have. Mass plantings of a few carefully chosen species are much more appealing than a garden full of 20 different kinds of plants. And it will mean you have more time to enjoy the garden.
Keep it natural
A garden that looks lush without requiring lots of maintenance is a winner with many busy homeowners. While it’s a tall order to give your garden a naturalistic look, there are plenty of strategies that can make this easier for you. Make sure that your gardens complement your summer houses. You can look at this guide for more information about it.
For starters, limit the number of different plant varieties – this will reduce your maintenance load significantly. Try mass plantings of a few types like a swathe of rudbeckias or sedums or lines of bamboo or Japanese forest grasses. This makes them look more impactful than a scattering of individual plants and means you won’t need to keep looking for individual weeds.
Another strategy is to replace lawns with paving or gravel and swap needy plants for shrub borders. This makes your garden much easier to work in and gives it a pared back look that suits many modern interior design schemes. You could also try attracting wildlife to your garden as it will eat pests for you, taking the pressure off you.
Garden maintenance can be a lot of work. You need to know how to reduce garden chores so you can spend more time enjoying your outdoor space.
Some great low-maintenance garden ideas include adding a thick layer of mulch to your garden beds to keep out weeds and maintain soil moisture. Also, consider using an irrigation system that automatically waters your plants on a set schedule to reduce the chance of forgetting and overwatering.
You can also reduce garden maintenance by choosing plants that are native to your area. Native plants are adapted to the local climate, soil, and geography which means they’ll require less watering and fertilizer than other plants. Plus, they help restore local wildlife habitats which is a win-win for everyone! You can also plant flowers in containers or window boxes instead of in the ground to avoid weeds and overwatering. These gardening tricks will help you create a beautiful outdoor space without the headaches!
The key to a low-maintenance garden is to have an efficient irrigation system. This will save you a lot of time from having to water your garden on a regular basis, especially during the Summer months.
Instead, opt for a more drought-tolerant plant palette such as succulents, sedums and low growing evergreen shrubs that won’t require frequent watering. These plants are often native to areas with less rain and have become adapted to the environment, making them very low maintenance.
Don’t forget to use mulch to help with drainage and to keep soil moisture at an optimum level. Opt for organic if possible as this will add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. Avoid using wood chippings as these can harbour pests and are a fire risk.
A garden that’s constantly reseeding is one that requires constant attention to stop it getting out of control. Consider choosing a plant that reseeds very rarely, such as rudbeckias or hydrangeas (or the new fashion of swathes of bamboo and tall grasses).
A thick layer of mulch such as bark or shredded leaves can help suppress weed growth and reduce watering needs by retaining soil moisture. A drip irrigation system on a timer will also help to cut down on the need for a lot of watering.
There’s no such thing as a completely low maintenance garden – even the keenest of gardens need work to look tip-top! But if you’re looking for ways to cut down on the gardening jobs that you just don’t enjoy doing, from fuss-free paving to garden furniture made from natural materials, you can have a low-maintenance garden that looks beautiful. Just choose the right plants.
The fewer plants in your garden, the less work it will take to maintain. Opt for perennials that come back year after season, and for low-maintenance color opt for no-fuss full sun or part shade annuals. If you have a dry climate, add drought-tolerant plants like pampas grass (Cymbopogon) and yarrow. And for a dramatic accent, add ornamental grasses such as Mexican feathergrass (Stipa) and New Zealand flax (Phormium).
Reduce the number of lawn areas by replacing them with gravel paths 4 to 8 feet wide. These will prevent weeds from growing and help excess water drain faster.
In a low maintenance garden you should avoid the use of annual plants and tender plants, instead opt for perennials or shrubs like Santa Barbara daisies (Erigeron) and lavenders (Lavandula). Choose shrubs that don’t need staking or require frequent pruning. Look for drought tolerant plants, or even native shrubs that are adapted to your local climate and soil type.
Plants that are native to your area will need less water, and fertilizer. It is also recommended to only fertilize twice a year: once in fall, and once in spring. This ensures that the plants are getting the nutrients they need when they are dormant over winter and ready to grow in the spring.
A low maintenance garden doesn’t have to mean boring, try adding a seating area to your design with repurposed bricks or second-hand outdoor furniture. This will reduce weeding, and allow you to spend more time enjoying your garden rather than working in it.
It may seem counterintuitive, but over-pruning your garden can actually make it more work to maintain. This is because you can end up removing flowers, leaves, and branches that would have naturally grown to produce valuable nutrients that help the plant thrive.
Rather than lawn, replace grass with gravel paths 4 to 8 feet wide to reduce weeding and allow excess water to drain faster. If you do have a small garden with bare soil, cover it with mulch to keep the area weed free and add texture.
Mass plantings of just a few varieties will look great and also cut down on maintenance. For example, an azalea and three Japanese forest grasses will be a much easier combination to manage than 12 different plants.
Avoid annuals and tender plants, which will need to be replanted each year, and consider avoiding climbers too as they can be very high maintenance. Instead opt for long-living shrubs and evergreens like lavender, holly, and euonymus.