How to Create a Low Maintenance Garden

Posted by admin on Nov 11, 2019 under Backyard
Photo credit: Hannamariah / Shutterstock

Unfortunately, no garden will ever be “zero maintenance”. But when it comes to creating a low maintenance garden, planning is key. By identifying high maintenance areas of the garden that take up the most time and can be tiring, it can help you to make smart choices about which features to alter or get rid of completely in order to create the perfect low maintenance garden design.

But, creating a low maintenance garden isn’t about sacrificing what makes a garden special – it’s about getting smart with your layout and carefully choosing what you grow. This reduces the amount of time spent in the garden tending to your plants, without it overgrowing or becoming a place to avoid altogether.

Take a read of this guide to find out how to create a low maintenance garden that requires minimal effort and ensures gardening is as pain-free as can be.

Table of contents:

When is it a good idea to consider low maintenance gardening?

At certain times in your life, you may not have time to dedicate to your garden. It is, in these instances, that you may want to consider creating a low maintenance garden space. More often than not, a low maintenance garden is ideal for:

  • Elderly people
  • People with a disability
  • New gardeners
  • Young families
  • Rental properties
  • Holiday homes

Tips for planning a low maintenance garden:

When creating a low maintenance garden, there are a number of things to think of, including which shrubs to plant, whether to get rid of your lawn and how to reduce the number of weeds.

– Low maintenance grass alternatives

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Let’s be honest, it’s no lie that lawns are one of the most intensive features in a garden – big or small. We all know that when it comes to grass, a lot can go wrong. It needs to be watered, mowed and fed far more regularly than any other grass alternatives, in order for it to survive.

Therefore, for most people, the best way to create a low maintenance garden is to get rid of the lawn altogether. There are a wide range of low maintenance alternatives to grass, including the following:

  • Gravel
  • Paving
  • Decking
  • Bark

Despite this, it is important to bear in mind that this may be more difficult if you have young family, as gravel and paving slabs may not be ideal for toddlers and young children who are prone to accidents. If this is the case, you may want to consider sticking to grass, but making it as low maintenance as possible by doing the following:

  • Replace fine turf

It’s a good idea to remove fine or high-quality turf and replace with planting low maintenance grass types, such as a harder-wearing seed or turf mix. When buying, look for seed or turf that is described as “amenity”, “multi-purpose”, “hard wearing” or even “low maintenance”.

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  • Introducing borders to make mowing easier

Small, awkward-shaped lawn can take longer to mow, so it is a good idea to simplify things by straightening or smoothing out the edges. Lawns with paved edges are much easier to mow too, making the job less of a chore.

  • Just let it grow

Be more relaxed when it comes to weeding, feeding and moss control. Your garden may not be as visually appealing as you would like, but it is perfectly acceptable and is more likely to attract a wide variety of wildlife.

  • Don’t collect grass clippings

By allowing the clippings to drop back onto the grass, less time and effort is needed to empty the box. The lawn will also need feeding less as some of the nutrients will return in the fallen grass.

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  • Use a mower with a wider cut

By using a lawn mower with a wider cut and larger power unit, your grass will be cut faster and more successfully. You may even want to buy a robot mower, that mow unattended – this can be costly though.

  • Consider a lawn maintenance company

If you simply don’t have time and you have enough money for it, you may want to get the professionals in to keep on top of your lawn for you.

  • Consider artificial turf

If you want to create a modern low maintenance garden, you may want to give artificial grass a go. This type of grass has a plethora of benefits, including very low maintenance, it’s safe for children, dogs love it and it lasts for a long time!

– Low maintenance garden plants

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Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “no maintenance plant”, but when planting a low maintenance garden space, it is a good idea to opt for trees and shrubs, particularly hardy evergreens. Once planted, they require very little care and last all year round. Be sure to check that your plants are suited to your garden’s soil and climate, and they will be more likely to thrive in your garden.

RELATED: How to Prepare Soil for Planting

Furthermore, other low maintenance garden shrubs include euonymus, berberis, magnolia and hardy herbs, such as lavender. Other options include grasses (such as miscanthus or carex), which only require being cut back once a year, and ground-covering perennials (such as bergenia, geranium and periwinkle) will leave little room for weeds.

You may also want to consider bulbs, as once planted, they will look after themselves and come back year-on-year during spring time.

If you don’t mind planting flowers at various points of the year to keep your soil bedding bursting with life and colour, take a look at our trusty flower calendar to find out which season you should be planting your flowers.

– Reduce weeds

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Weeds are a real nuisance and can take up a lot of your spare time removing – the last thing if you’re looking for a low maintenance garden. As a result, one way to keep on top of weeds is to introduce thick mulches of organic matter into your soil to release nutrients plants need to thrive and creates a food foundation for them to grow successfully in.

It is wise to add a layer of mulch twice yearly, from mid- to late spring and autumn when the soil is moist and warm. It is best to avoid applying mulches in winter and early spring as the soil is too cold and it will be a waste of time. The addition of mulch can help to conserve moisture, balance temperature shifts and supress any weeds.

Different types of mulch:

  • Biodegradable mulch – Breaks down gradually to release nutrients into the soil. Some of the best materials include leaf mould, garden compost, wood chippings, processed conifer bark, well-rotted manure, straw for strawberries etc.
  • Non-biodegradable mulch – Doesn’t help fertility or structure of the soil but does help to suppress weeds. Common materials used across beds include slate, shingle, pebbles, gravel, stone chippings etc.

– Opt for low maintenance garden furniture

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It’s easy to purchase garden furniture and assume that it will last because it’s for outside, however this isn’t always the case. Thus, before making a purchase, you must consider which garden furniture is the most “low maintenance” and requires minimum effort – this often boils down to material.

Often, garden furniture is constructed using solid wood (such as teak furniture), wrought iron, painted metal, aluminium, real rattan and faux rattan, and each material has varying durability and maintenance levels.

Be sure to read our guide to purchasing no maintenance garden furniture for help.

– Things to avoid when creating a low maintenance garden

When looking for simple ways to tend to your garden, there are some things that you should avoid to make your life ten times easier. Some things include:

  • Lots of containers
  • Temporary plants (such as bedding plants or tender plants)
  • Fast-growing hedges
  • Plants that require regular pruning

You may also like: How to Grow a Fruit and Vegetable Garden

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