Dan’s top tips for creating a low-maintenance garden
There’s really no such thing as a maintenance-free garden, after all a garden is a living thing that continually changes and grows
So, whatever your reasons for wanting your garden to be low-maintenance,
(lack of time, physical difficulty, if you’re renting your home, or you’ve got kids and their fun is your priority),
here are my top tips to make your time in the garden as easy as possible.
Install raised beds: they’re easier to reach if you have trouble bending, and the plants won’t get attacked by slugs and snails quite so easily
For hedges choose slow-growing varieties like Yew or Holly – less clipping!
Plant hardy evergreen shrubs like Euonymus and Azaleas – they require very little care and provide much-needed structure in your garden. ‘Evergreen’ simply means they keep their leaves all year round (so no collecting and sweeping!), but there are plenty of colourful options.
- Avoid bedding plants such as Lobelia, Verbena and Begonia at all costs. These are the ones that survive for one season only and then poof – they’re gone forever. All that effort to get them in the ground and you have to do it all over again next year! Garden centres are full of them in spring – spend your money on a cup of tea instead!
Perennials: If you want plenty of colour, and shrubs aren’t doing it for you, plant only perennials – they pop up year after year. Sedum, Grasses (Stipa is one of my favourites) and Ferns all require minimal input. Avoid anything that mentions ‘tender’ on the label!
Lawns: tricky one this. Some people advocate artificial turf and although I accept that there’s a place for it in our modern, super-busy lives, (and in fact there are some very realistic products out there), it’ll never quite cut it for me, even though we have supplied it for several clients and they love it! Personally, I’d prefer to use turf that is described as ‘amenity’, ‘multi-purpose’, or
‘hard wearing’. It’ll need less general lawn care – less scarifying, less feeding, less aerating and even less mowing. It won’t look like one of those perfect lawns you see in fine country mansions, but you haven’t got an army of gardeners to keep it in tip-top have you? Avoid fussy shapes and awkward corners. Make it simple and square – easier to mow! Or have you considered a CLOVER LAWN? Slow growing, needs no fertiliser and can survive drought – what’s not to like?
Water features: Avoid artificial water feature – there aren’t many that don’t require a fair bit of looking after (especially those with fish).
Decking: Use composite materials for decking, fencing and even sheds. They require no painting, staining or protection and there are some amazingly natural looking products out there these days.
Pots: Don’t fill your space with dozens of plants in pots. It might seem like a good idea at first but in fact plants in pots take a lot of looking after: they dry out in hot weather so need lots of watering; they don’t have much soil so they need regular feeding; they’ll soon outgrow their pot and need to be moved to a bigger (more expensive) one.
So in conclusion, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a lovely, colourful garden without having to devote every waking moment to its upkeep – select plants carefully, work with what you’ve got, and think long-term.