What is a low-maintenance garden?
It’s just a garden that minimises those chores YOU don’t like doing.
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Low-maintenance garden design
Your idea of a low-maintenance garden will not be the same as someone else’s. There is no formula that can be applied to your garden to create one, so if you would love to spend less time on garden chores, how do you go about doing that?
First, let’s debunk a misnomer, low maintenance does not mean NO maintenance. In fact, the only way to ensure you don’t spend time gardening is if you hire a gardener.
So if you have a garden, you are going to have to get dirty and do some gardening, it’s just a question of how much and how often.
This article contains lots of advice to help reduce the time you spend gardening.
You need to understand what you like and more importantly dislike about gardening. Make a list of all those elements, then you will know what to include and what to avoid!
- Prioritise the dislikes
What part of gardening do you hate the most? It could be raking leaves or fiddly weeding. If you know what your worst jobs are; the new garden design created needs to ensure you won’t be doing them.
- Focus on the parts of gardening you like
If the garden work you have to do is ‘stuff’ you don’t mind doing, then by definition it won’t feel like a chore!
- Lastly – Work WITH your environment and weather
Keeping unwanted chores to a minimum is all about making sure the materials and plants used work with your garden.
Planning how to reduce those unwanted chores
We all dream of spending lazy summer afternoons sitting in the garden and watching the world go by. Sadly, most of the sunny afternoons end up being spent weeding, watering and mowing. But with a little planning, reducing the time you spend on unwanted garden chores is possible. So how do you go about it?
The aim is to reduce the time you spend doing stuff you don’t like doing. So take a look at your garden, and jot down how much time and effort you spend on certain tasks.
Aim for 80% of your garden requiring only annual attention or a few minutes a week spent tidying it up.
This house owner is a garden lover, there are lots of plants that require regular attention, which is fine if you love gardening.
Once you have seen which elements of the garden require regular bursts of activity, you also need to consider how long each activity takes. In the image below, there are large hedges and a box parterre. The hedging may only require clipping twice a year, but if it takes several hours each time, you can decide if really sharply clipped hedges are your thing!
Size is not the key determinant of the amount of time you spend gardening, although it obviously is still relevant, the types of plants you have are also crucial.
The main workload in the image below comes from keeping the grass cut and the border edges neat. The rest can be tackled pretty much with one day’s gardening a year and a few little trips in between to deadhead the roses.
So you have identified those elements of the garden that are either regular chores or take up an inordinate amount of time that you would prefer doing something much more enjoyable!
The best tip of all
Reevaluate HOW and WHY you do what you do.
This is very simply a cost-benefit analysis for the garden, and it starts with you asking yourself some questions.
- Why is it important for the grass to be free of all weeds?
- How much better will our use of the garden be IF the lawn is perfect, green and lush and has no moss or weeds?
- If there are aphids on some plants how is that going to personally cause you a problem?
- What bad things would happen if you didn’t cut the grass
- How would your life change if you decided not to have plants that needed gardening attention like Roses for example
- What is it about a totally weed-free border or blemish-free plant that improves your life significantly?
OK, so I know these questions are a bit loaded, but the point is this; Challenge why you garden the way you do. If there isn’t a personal benefit gained – why work at it?
Gardens that are good at looking after themselves are by definition low maintenance.
Low maintenance garden ideas – what did I do in my garden?
and how it can help you lessen garden maintenance.
This year I decided on a garden experiment, to see how I could reduce the volume of gardening chores I had been doing. I, like you, aspire to get the most from my garden – but with the least garden effort!
Now, there are lots of articles purporting to offer the best low-maintenance garden ideas for you to try. But before you make any changes; you need to decide what low-maintenance garden ideas will work for you! And that means you need to identify those activities you regard as a chore, not a pleasure and concentrate on reducing the time taken doing them.
I used to spend a lot of time and gardening effort mowing and keeping the weeds at bay. These were garden chores that (for me) created a lot of work, for very little benefit.
As soon as the grass was mown, it began to grow again. So off we went around the cycle of garden maintenance again.
I decided to try two things. Firstly, I would stop mowing the grass and secondly, I would allow Nature to underplant and fill the garden borders.