10 Low-Maintenance Garden Design Strategies
While there’s no such thing as a no-maintenance garden, it is possible to achieve a low-maintenance garden. Here are a few strategies for cutting down those garden chores — weeding, mowing and mulching — so that you can spend more time enjoying the space itself.
1. Designate Outdoor Living Areas
Increase your living and entertainment space in warm weather by creating outdoor lounges, dining areas, and sitting areas around fire pits. Patios, terraces and decks not only encourage more outdoor time, they cut down on lawn and planting space to maintain. Overall, outdoor living areas require less maintenance than garden beds.
2. Reduce the Lawn Size
The fewer grassy areas you have, the less time it takes to mow, fertilize, weed and reseed. While getting rid of your lawn completely is an option, just reducing its size can effectively save a lot of time and energy. Instead of lawn, consider carving out space for outdoor dining or recreation.
3. Limited Planting Space
While wall-to-wall hardscape is probably not an option for the majority of homeowners, it’s definitely true that it would cut down on mowing, mulching and garden bed maintenance time. A more reasonable solution is to look at the ratio of planting space to patio space or other hardscape choices. Create a design based on the ratio that best fits your particular set of needs.
4. Choose Easy-to-Grow Plants
It may take some effort at the start, but getting the right plants in the right places is a huge time and money saver in the long run. Choose plants that grow naturally in your area or climate, and that thrive with little care. For instance, you wouldn’t want to grow citrus in boggy, slow-draining soil, or rhododendrons in a dry, parched climate. Also, if you lack time for pruning plants, take a pass on climbing ficus, wisteria or roses, which require proper maintenance or else they get out of control.
5. Opt for a Shrub Border Over Flowers
While you may not want to eliminate seasonal flower beds entirely, consider swapping out some of the planting space with low-maintenance shrubs. Seasonal flower beds tend to be time-consuming, as they require planting, staking, watering and deadheading for their brief display of blooms. Believe it or not, when done right, a garden made up of a large portion of shrubs, without all the blooms, can actually be quite beautiful.
6. Embrace the Wild
If you’re able to take a step back and give up order in some areas of the garden, you’ll be surprised how rewarding it can be to allow nature to take over. It may be difficult to let go of the areas closer to the house, but shady spaces under trees or your property’s back border are great options to let go wild. Just sit back and enjoy as fallen leaves create a natural mulch on the ground, wild birds come to feed and native plants take root.
7. Use Perennials for Color
Instead of using annual bedding plants that only last a season, consider turning to hardy perennials for color year after year. Low-maintenance stalwarts like English lavender and spurge only require an annual trim, but bloom for months. In addition, most perennials are more pollinator friendly when it comes to pollen and nectar than bedding plants, which are bred primarily for color.
9. Simplify Your Water Feature
Maintaining large water features in your yard can be messy, difficult and unpleasant. If you would like to get the benefits of a water element without all the hassle, try choosing a simple design that is easy to clean. For example, instead of a pond, consider filling a stone basin with water and watching the birds gather to bathe in it. Another option is investing in a basic recirculating fountain. This will give you that relaxing sound of splashing water so many enjoy.
10. Mulch Your Beds
One of the best garden maintenance timesavers, mulch not only suppresses weed growth and reduces water loss, it also breaks down naturally and helps improve soil texture. Spreading a few bags of bark or wood-chip mulch over your planting beds provides an instant pick-me-up, leaving your gardens with a well-maintained look with hardly any effort at all.