Low Maintenance Gardening Tips & Tricks
Low or easy maintenance gardening is what many people would like to embrace, either through necessity or preference. No garden will be zero maintenance but most gardening activities have a lower input solution or alternative to consider.
When to consider low maintenance gardening?
With busy lives, many gardeners are looking to keep gardening tasks to a manageable level. However, there are particular circumstances when easy or low maintenance gardening is most relevant. These might include;
- When gardening in older age
- When gardening with a disability
- When new to gardening
- When renting or renting out a property with a garden
- When managing a garden in a holiday home
- When raising a family
- For non-gardeners who have to look after a garden
How to create a low maintenance garden?
Design & Planning
Start by looking at how much input you can make to the garden and the features or functions that are most important to you. Not everything need be lost. For example, if growing your own vegetables is high on the priority list, keep a veg patch that will meet your needs while minimising activity elsewhere such as replacing lawn with paving or a rose garden with a shrub border.
Also try to position features that are more labour intensive closer to the house or the shed so you’re not wasting a lot of effort walking, carrying or barrowing items up and down the garden. Consider installing a water point close to where you are most likely to need it (e.g. a greenhouse). Equally, it may be that an automatic irrigation system, especially for lots of pots and planters, could take a lot of stress out of watering.
Some design decisions will not be so obvious. A living hedge may require clipping every year but if kept to a manageable height this might in the long run be less onerous than having to paint and replace wooden fencing.
Low Garden Maintenance Advice
Garden Tips and Tricks
There is no such thing as a ‘no maintenance’ plant but many hardy evergreens, once established, will require little care. Ensure you check the expected mature height and spread, otherwise pruning may be necessary if the space is too small for the plant.
Let the grass grow long. Consider keeping a small area of short grass in the most formal area of garden but reduce the amount of cutting in other areas. Experiment with different frequencies of cut; some parts may be acceptable with being mown just once a fortnight, while some ‘wilder’ areas could be left unmown between March and September. Introduce a sense of purpose to long grass by mowing a path through the centre or a strip at the edge. You can even add interest by introducing wildflower plug plants into the sward.
Artificial turf. Something of a taboo subject for many gardeners but artificial turf has a role to play. Modern artificial turf can be reasonably realistic and there is usually a choice of styles on offer.
Use a mower with a wider cut and more capable power unit, or even consider ‘Robot Mowers’, that mow unattended.
Garden Maintenance: Things to Avoid
Most frequent questions and answers
Containers need lots of maintenance, from planting up, repotting and feeding, to watering and handling. If you do opt for planters, try to use larger ones with greater volume of compost as these should dry out less quickly
These require seasonal tasks such as lifting, winter wrapping, moving to a protected environment or annual propagation. Instead, look for plants that are deemed fully hardy which can be left outdoors year round.
Traditional bedding schemes can offer great colour but are very seasonal and can take a lot of work, especially if you are growing your plants from seed or having to grow on plug plants in a greenhouse before planting out. Moving away from bedding to borders with permanent plantings would help eliminate this dependency. Similarly, if you’ve had success with wildflower annuals, for example, why not consider sowing a perennial meadow instead to avoid annual sowing?
Buying and planting semi-mature plantsmay seem like a quick route to an instant garden but aftercare can be more onerous. Younger plants will often establish in half the time and require less attention to watering and staking
This might include trained fruit trees or a wall-trained wisteria. Consider bush forms of fruit or a self-clinging climber such as climbing hydrangea instead.