Tag Archives: garden border ideas

How to get a Low Maintenance Border in your Garden

A Low Maintenance Border in the garden that looks great all year…yes please!

So can you get something that looks fantastic without spending hours tending to the garden? Well the answer has to be yes, otherwise there’s no point in reading the rest of this article!

If you haven’t time to read on, download our free 11 page guide to making your garden easier to look after.

 

 

 

 

What actually does ‘low maintenance’ mean?

Well, low maintenance is all about not having unwanted garden chores or at least minimising these as much as possible. So one person’s low maintenance garden may not be the same as someone else’s.

not a low maintnenance border

In the garden border, most time is taken up with:

  • Clipping and Pruningdesign-garden-sidebar
  • Tying things in or stopping plants flopping
  • Weeding
  • Deadheading
  • Stopping one plant taking over the border
  • Digging up unwanted seedlings
  • Planting plants only to have to lift them up at the end of the year
  • Daily inspections for the signs of bugs and diseases

There’s lots of advice further down this page to reduce your garden maintenance burden.

However if you just want to know what plants to put in that won’t take over the garden….

 

We have loads of border designs available to download. Our designs are created to  minimise the amount of unwanted maintenance.

We understand that although most of us would love to have a beautiful garden – many of us simply don’t have enough time to garden.

Our designs use ‘well-behaved’ plants that not only look good, they do good too; so bees and butterflies will love to visit too.

Why not have a browse through some of our lower maintenance designs…

lower-maintenance

 

If you are going to plant and you want to minimise maintenance, then follow these tips:

Shrubs:

  • Use evergreen shrubs
  • Avoid thorns…!
  • Check the size in 5, if it will be 10ft tall in 5 years, then it grows pretty fast and will need constant trimming.
  • If it says the diameter of the plant will be 80cm for example, then plant it at least 40 cm away from a wall or fence.
  • Don’t squash shrubs into tight spaces, like a skirt that’s too small – you’ll end up with a ‘muffin-top’!

mini-makeovers

Climbers:

  • Use self clinging ones – so you don’t have to constantly tie in tendrils.
  • Make sure the trellis is big and sturdy enough. A plant won’t get to the end of your trellis and stop – it will keep on growing and flop!
  • Hang the trellis onto a bracket attached to the wall. This leaves space for growth and you can lift the trellis off the wall if you need to.
  • Don’t mix different climbers on the same trellis – unless 1 is an annual that will die after 1 season.
  • Plant a climber in a space that fits the ultimate size. Montana Clematis for example will swamp most garden trellis or arches in a very short time.

 

Plants:

  • Keep bedding and annual plants to a minimumplants to avoid 1
  • Avoid overbred flowers or overly large flowers – they require lots of food and water to keep performing.
  • Use bulbs rather than bedding plants to fill up spaces
  • Look for a AGM medal on the plant label – it will be a good performer and have better disease resistance.
  • Avoid tender perennials – these will need winter protection to stay alive in winter.

Pots:

  • Use larger pots – small ones dry out too easilygood garden plants
  • In sunny spots use water retaining granules in the soil.
  • Use a mixture of topsoil and compost, plants grow better in soil.
  • Raise the pots off the ground to help with drainage.
  • Have a pot collection in one place, watering is quicker.
  • Mix slow release fertiliser into the soil mix before you plant, then it’s done and you won’t have to remember to liquid feed every week.

 

The Ground:

  • Weed it properly, yanking off the weed leaves will not kill the weed, you need to dig them out. And it’s easier to do this before you plant anything else.
  • If the soil is really poor and you don’t want to add lots of compost or manure, then choose plants that thrive in tough places or those that have shallow root systems like grasses that won’t need much extra food.
  • Bare soil around plants is fine, if you pack too much in, then all the plants compete for light, space and food and only the toughest (normally weeds) win. So give your plants space to get going. Any weed seeds are easy to see and quick to remove.
  • Don’t let anything set seed unless you want more of them. 1 plant can set thousands of seeds, weeds throw out millions, so snip off seed heads before they ripen.

 

How to make an existing border lower maintenance:

As with anything, first you need to work out the problem, before you can find the right solution – which sometimes means starting again!

Here for example, the border does not look it’s best.

 

not a low maintenance border

 

Clearly every plant here is fighting for space, there is just too much and it has grown too big. The strappy leaves of the Crocosmia (the orange one), flop on the path ready to trip you up and the Perovskia (the blue plant) looks a bit like it’s been all night clubbing and needs a lie down!

 

You need to make a decision as to whether the border can be rejigged, or whether it’s best to lift everything and start again.

In this case…start again!

 

low maintenance border - start again

 

I’ll bet you didn’t think the border was triangular though. Aside from that, we now have a starting point. So what’s next?

What’s above & what’s below?:

You must match the plant to the position of the border and the type of soil you have.

 

Otherwise known as right plant, right place. Remember this is all about reducing garden maintenance. Read more

 

Download our free Right Plant – Wrong Place planting guides

 

Plants grow best if they are happy with the conditions. So sun lovers will be limp and feeble if stuffed in a shady corner and similarly plants that love a rich moist soil will look decidedly hungover if planted in a sun trap. All of which mean you have to tend to them more often or they die and you have to spend more money and time sorting it out.

 

Having said that, some plants will go on the rampage if you plant them in perfect conditions and so are best avoided. These tough plants do have a place, but generally you only plant them where weeds are currently thriving and then they are brilliant!

 

 

The upshot is this – if you get the conditions right for the plant, it will grow more strongly, it will grow into the shape it’s supposed to be and at the right speed. The stems will be less floppy and it will produce better flowers.

The plants will tend to look after themselves, so you don’t have to!

butterfly taste 12

Don’t create extra work unintentionally

You need a plan before you plant, the ‘stuff it in and see what happens approach’, very rarely works and can quickly become a tangled mess that needs sorting out.

 

You must look at the size a plant will become not the size it is now. Filling up the border with the small plants you have bought is not a good approach.

 

If the border is only 2m square, then you need to select plants that over time will fill up that 2m sq. Use bulbs for infills, especially small plants like crocus, snowdrops, alliums and narcissus. These are narrow plants that don’t fill ground space too much, but do fill the air above with colour!

 

cottage-with-planned-garden-1224357

 

You know a garden like the one above will keep you really busy, but so will a garden that looks like this…

 

not a low maintnenance border

 

Now you may have got to the end of this article (thank you by the way) and thought, ‘OK right, I get that, but what do I actually plant, what do I put with what and how many should I fit into the space I have. That’s what I really need to know about the low maintenance bit!’

Visit our Shop now to see our range of Low Maintenance Designs that would be just perfect for your garden.

beginners

Next Week: Pots – if you like plants in pots, but wished they kept looking good, then tune in and we’ll show you how to ‘pot plant’ better!

 

back to home

How to get Low Maintenance Hedges

As part of our series on creating a low maintenance garden we thought it a good idea to see how you can grow a low maintenance hedge!

Ah hedges, us Brits love hedges!

 

There are millions of miles of hedging in our gardens, some more lovingly maintained than others and some are works of art in their own right.

yew-hedge-maze-1341290-1600x1200

We trim them, straighten them, pleach and prune them to create boundaries and cocoon ourselves in these great green walls. Let’s face it hedges are fantastic in many ways. They are natural boundaries, really useful wildlife habitats the most effective windbreaks and are much prettier than fence panels.

 

FF Hedges 1 FF Hedges 2 FF Hedges 3 FF Hedges 4

We should all try and plant more hedges. Unlike fencing however, hedges have this annoying tendency to grow or drop leaves – which invariably causes more work in the garden.

How do you get low maintenance hedges then?

Hedges will never be no maintenance, but you can prevent them being high maintenance;

The ‘rules’ are as follows:

 

  • Hedges should be wider at the base than at the top.
  • Limit the height of the hedge to 6 ft – which is tall enough!
  • As a general rule, trim only a little off the side growth but you can take more from the top.
  • Make sure you have decent tools – an old pair of blunt shears will make a hard job 10 times worse
  • Don’t plant thorny climbers into your hedge – unless you are a real sucker for punishment.
  • Evergreen Hedging is pruned in the Spring and trimmed in the summer, so early flowering climbers are best avoided in case you chop off the flower buds.
  • Deciduous Hedging is pruned in Winter and trimmed again in Summer. Climbers that flower on new growth are good to use, if they get chopped in the winter prune, they’ll grow lots of new flowers for later in the year.
  • If you use annual climbers, then plant these away from the base of the hedge or in large pots, so they don’t compete with the hedge for water and food can and get a good start.
  • If at all possible, ‘flop’ the climber on the surface of the hedge, you can then move it off the hedge more easily to trim in the summer.

 

As we have said in previous posts, low maintenance really means reducing the number jobs you don’t like doing in the garden. If you have a hedge then you need to decide which part of it’s maintenance annoys you the most and look to change that.

design-my-garden

The Annual Trim!

You will not avoid pruning if you have a hedge, but you can make it easier with a little thought and a bit of planning.

Railway-train-garden-hedge-design-ideas

Tall hedges:

These are a real pain to keep in check, if you can’t easily trim the hedge you may have to hire specialists in, which is expensive. Decide, if the hedge really needs to be 7 feet high? If the hedge only needs to be 5ft tall to screen out next door’s windows, then why grow it to a height where you need steps and ladders to trim it?

Wide hedges:

Any hedge can to become too wide, which uses up valuable garden space and you can’t easily reach across the top. Most hedges are generally pruned harder on top and less on the sides. If you can see little shoots appearing on the woody stems of the hedge, it may well regrow from the base.

If the width does need to be reduced then it is best to tackle it over a couple of years. Cut back just one side of the hedge to the desired width, lightly trim the other side. If the hedge regrows from the pruned side, wait until this has sufficiently thickened before you prune the other side back.

By the way, this won’t work with any conifers or Leylandii hedge.

Bad pruning

Fast growing shrubs:

It sounds tempting when you need a hedge to screen something ugly fairly quickly, to plant something that will grow fast. But remember, FAST growing mean just that – for ever. If necessary, put up a temporary screen until the hedge grows but slow is definitely better here.

mini-makeovers

Transform your garden today – we’ve lot’s of designs to choose form

We could list lots of shrubs and stuff that would be good, but the RHS have a pretty good list, so why duplicate something? The key point here is that you look for shrubs and plants that are slower to grow and try to avoid leylandii!

Precisely clipped hedges: 

If you do like nice sharp hedge edges, they will need regular clipping. Keep these hedges lower, waist height is a good height for faster easier strimming.

Leaves.

Why do leaves make a difference to whether the hedge is low maintenance or not, well

you can use hedge trimmers on small leaved hedges…

but you have to use these on any plants with large sized leaves…

because a hedge trimmer will cut a large leaf in bits and the hedge starts to look rather scraggy. However, all is not too bad, manual trimming may not be particularly low maintenance but you do get great looking arms!

Be Self Supporting

This may sound blindingly obvious, but if you have a hedge or you want to grow something to screen an ugly view – then it is much lower maintenance if you have plants that don’t need constant tying in, staking or supporting.

Growing flowering plants through hedging

This is often written about as a way to make hedges more interesting and ‘pretty’ and indeed it does, the problem arises if you don’t match the annual trim of the hedge with the flowering time of the climber.

The RHS have a good guide to when and how much various plants need pruning.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, do you really need to have a precisely clipped and geometrically rigid hedge?

Cutting ‘straight and true’ with either a strimmer or shears is actually more time consuming than you think.

Maybe your hedge can ‘go with the flow’ a little more?

miscanthus sinensis close up

View our alternative hedge designs

Next week: It’s Low Maintenance Lawns…bet you can’t wait!

wrong-place