If you have a garden, it can be a mixed blessing. It is wonderful to be able to access outside space whenever you want to, especially during the summer months. You have somewhere to sit and relax, read or listen to music with your favourite drink, or share food and fun times with family and friends. And it’s great to have that open space for children to play and animals to cool off.
However, having a garden does bring with it the responsibility of looking after it. For some people that is a delight: something they enjoy doing and are good at. But for many others, it is just another chore on the To Do list. And the problem with gardens is that the more you put off garden maintenance the worse they look and the more you will have to do to get back on track again.
So in this article we look at 10 tips to make your garden more low maintenance. Whether you have a garden that is pretty sparse to start with, and you just want to freshen it up a bit, or you have a more established garden that you want to simplify, see if any of the following will help.
First and foremost, you need to think carefully about what you want from your garden. What are you going to use it for? If it’s primarily for relaxing and entertaining then you need to devote as much space as possible to that. If you love your flowers and plants, you need to make sure there is plenty of opportunity for them to flourish. Or if you are on a mission to grow your own vegetables, make this a major priority in your garden.
Once you have worked out the priorities for your garden, start thinking about what should go where. If you have the flexibility to move things around, make sure that the things you will use most and need most are the most accessible. So, coming back to our vegetable growing example, if this is what is going to be occupying most of your garden time, try to position your vegetable patch or trug in a convenient place where you can get to it easily for watering and nurturing without having to trudge and carry stuff back and forth to do so.
One of the highest-maintenance aspects of most gardens is the lawn. So one major decision to make is whether you want to keep all or part of your lawn. Alternatives could be artificial grass, paving, decking, gravel or bark. Any of these options could be easier to maintain than lawn, and make your garden look better.
If you do decide to keep an area of lawn, there are various ways that you can also make this more low maintenance. For example, you could keep the most visible areas of lawn short, but also have areas of longer grass to reduce the amount of cutting needed. You could take this one step further by adding some wildflower plants for a meadow-type effect.
Another way to decrease lawn maintenance is to gradually introduce a more durable grass seed or turf mix into your lawn. This will need less mowing and maintenance than finer turf. Some durable mixes also include micro clovers which will help to reduce the need to water and feed your lawn.
Avoid the temptation to fill your garden with containers and pots, in the hope that this will lead to less maintenance. Containers and pots actually need lots of maintenance! As well as watering and feeding, the plants often need tidying up and perhaps repotting. So you could be unwittingly taking on a whole lot more maintenance if you start adding lots of pots to your garden.
A good compromise solution is that if you decide you do want containers and pots, go for larger ones as these have more space for plants to grow, and tend to dry out more slowly due to the greater volume of compost contained.
If you have beds in the garden, you will have less maintenance to do if you choose evergreen plants and shrubs. Evergreens keep their leaves all year round, even in winter, so are important to stop your garden looking bare. And not all evergreens are actually green; their foliage can be in a range of colours, and many also have flowers – see next section.
Once established, evergreens need little care, though may need pruning if they grow larger than the space you have allocated. Other than this, they need very little attention and look good throughout the year. Win-win!
Another tip when choosing what to plant is that if you go for flowering shrubs rather than plants this will reduce the amount of weeding you have to do. Examples of flowering shrubs include azaleas, camellias, ceanothus, rhododendrons, lavender, dogwood, hydrangeas, viburnum, hebe, berberis, heather and many others.
Weeding can be further reduced if you plant them through a weed-suppressing membrane and cover it with a layer of mulch, such as bark or gravel. Once your shrubs are established, they will probably only need an occasional prune, and also the mulch topping up now and again. There should not be a major problem with weeds any more.
We’ve just mentioned mulch, and this is a must for all your garden beds. Mulch will make the beds look good, will also suppress weeds, and reduce the need for weeding and digging.
Mulch can consist of a variety of organic materials, such as bark, garden compost, leaves, grass clippings, wood chips or manure. Applying mulch regularly to garden beds keeps your plants in top condition by conserving moisture and providing them with organic plant food, and also suppresses weeds.
Neat edges to your garden beds can make a big difference to the look of your garden. But keeping them immaculately cut takes a lot of time and effort, so you need to decide whether or not it is worth it. One option is to give them a quick tidy up with a strimmer when you mow the lawn, leaving a bit of space between the edge and the plants so that it looks neat.
However, another option to consider would be to install some kind of permanent edging such as stone, rock, brick, or more contemporary solutions such as metal or rubber. Permanent edging will keep your garden looking good even if the lawn or beds need a bit of attention.
If you have lots of flowering plants and containers, watering your garden can be a time-consuming task. If this is the case, it may be worth considering an automatic watering system. You can set up sprinklers and hoses of various sizes in different locations around the garden, and have the system on a timer to water the garden on a regular basis.
Not only can an automatic watering system take a lot of time and stress out of watering your garden, it can also be more economical on water usage, by delivering more accurate watering directly to the roots of your plants. So an added benefit of an automatic watering system is that it could save you money on your water bills.
So, if you want to make your garden more low maintenance, we hope that this article has given you a few ideas on how to go about that. And if you need a bit of a financial boost to get your garden into shape, remember that Minty offers 24 month loans that may be able to help.
Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Minty Loans.