What is a Low Maintenance Garden?

What is a Low Maintenance Garden-blog-post-fi

How to get a low maintenance garden

Creating a low maintenance garden simply means creating a garden that does not require you to do the chores YOU don’t like doing!


Your idea of a low maintenance garden will not be the same as someone else’s ideas – so it’s all about making the garden work – FOR YOU.

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What is a Low Maintenance Garden and how can I have one?

We would all love to have a beautiful but low maintenance garden, but what do we really mean by the phrase ‘low maintenance garden’?


Reducing the amount of time spent on unwanted chores in the garden is always desirable, but really low maintenance gardens take a lot of planning to get right, so if you would love a low maintenance garden how do you go about achieving one?


First let’s debunk a misnomer, low maintenance does not mean no maintenance – the only option for you not having to maintain your garden is to hire someone else to do it for you.


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.

To start with, you need a piece of paper and a pen, list down all the jobs you loathe doing in the garden, all the bits of the garden you like and lastly what you enjoy doing most in the garden.


This gives you a good starting point to work out how and what you need to change.


What you are really saying is not that you want a low maintenance garden, but you want to create a garden that minimises the stuff you don’t like to do but does have stuff you do like doing!


That’s the easy bit though, working out what you like and dislike, but how do you change what you have and actually get a garden that doesn’t require constant attention.


A good place to start is to know what bits of the garden take the most time and effort to maintain, of course, the level of neatness is up to you, but to achieve perfectly preened gardens all these are pretty labour intensive!




High maintenance stuff!

Lawns – especially those who love weed free, bowling green flat stripy ones

Vegetable Gardens – require constant attention all year

Pots – unless you have automatic watering systems, pots need a lot of feeding, watering and preening

Pergolas – look gorgeous but you will regularly be tying up those climbing plants

Topiary – only looks good if you regularly clip and neaten your ‘artwork’

Plant Divas – plants that require a lot of attention to look good!

Fruit Trees – all fruit trees create work, falling fruit and a constant battle with hungry birds

Large Trees – leaf fall, twig fall, seed drop, dry and deep shade all creates extra work

Ponds – It’s you vs the green algae and duck weed trying to take over

Shingle – a cheap and ‘covers a multitude of sins’ paving solution, but under deciduous trees or even worse, conifer or pines trees it’s a raking nightmare

Stone Mulches – these may seem an easy, cover all decorative fix to hiding bare soil and weeding, but beware, once down, weeding, clearing, cleaning and raking becomes a right royal pain in the proverbials. Especially white stone it goes green and if you don’t put them on a membrane, they gradually all sink into the ground.


Learn from others mistakes and garden bloopers!

Friends and neighbours can be valuable sources of useful advice, prevention is always better than cure. This is especially true if you are about to spend money on hard landscaping.


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Patios and Paving

Paving is expensive to put down and even more expensive to put right.

Drainage – where will the rainwater run off to and can it handle it, does the paving drain water away quickly or are you left with puddles.

Shade – will the paving become slippery when wet or get covered in slippery green algae from being shaded.

Sunshine – will the slabs get too hot to walk on?

Trees & Birds – apologies for being crude, but droppings! Fruit droppings, bird droppings even fruit coloured bird droppings. Is paving the right surface for here?

Joins/Mortar – what to have; sand is cheaper but prone to weed seedlings popping up, concrete costs more but also costs more to repair if it cracks

Roots – there is nothing worse than roots that get under the patios, they are so difficult to get rid of. Have you really dug out any unwanted invaders before you lay any slabs?

Lastly, think about the planting around patios, especially if you use sand as a base, you don’t want lots of self seed experts upwind of the patio!


nightime-patio-1419782 - Copy




Shingle or Decorative Stones

Shingle covers a multitude of sins and is quick and easy to use, but there are pitfalls to shingle.

Trees – trees always drop lots of stuff, twigs, seeds, leaves. You can rake
shingle easily, but wet leaves and small seeds are more difficult to
rake and pines needles are impossible to remove from shingle!

Membranes – if you don’t want weeds growing up through the shingle, you can put down a weed membrane. This is great if you don’t want to plant anything else in that area, but is not a good idea if you want to plant bulbs for example!

If you add shingle on top of bare soil, then over time, the shingle will sink
into the soil, so regular top ups of shingle will be needed.

Paths – shingle paths are not nice to walk on in bare feet. If you have them near your doors, be prepared for shingle to appear in the house too.

Decorative Stones – look fantastic, but are a devil to keep looking fantastic especially in the shade or under deciduous shrubs and plants. White pebbles will also quickly go green.


Is this really low maintenance, pebbles are hard to weed between and keep looking pristine like this garden.



Some years ago, decking was everywhere, a wooden deck is admittedly, lovely to walk
on barefoot. If you are considering decking, then do consider the following before you start.

Shade – decking is great in full sun, but extremely slippery in shaded areas.

Vermin – rats can move in under the raised deck, they are attracted to leftover BBQ food, so ensure you can access under the deck if it becomes necessary.

Weeds – you must make sure the ground under the deck is properly weeded before you build the decking.  It is so annoying for perennial weeds to keep growing through the gaps.

Creating the right garden for you starts with understanding what you want it to do for you. It may be you love lots of flowers but hate mowing, in which case large areas of lawn in the garden would not create the low maintenance garden you are after.

You know what you want, use these ideas to change your garden around so that you can minimise the impact of the negatives but maximise the positive. You may need to be a bit radical, but if you really hate mowing lawns, why have one?

Gardens are spaces that should be enjoyed, not places for you to do even more chores.


We have created lots of garden border design ideas that will work for even the most inexperienced of gardeners.

Our designs are created for smaller modern gardens and people who would love a gorgeous garden – but aren’t sure how to go about it.

As far as we know – there’s nothing quite like us on the Internet….(yet!).


Gardening is only ever a pain in the proverbials if you have to do ‘stuff’ you don’t like doing. If all the work in the garden is stuff you don’t mind doing, the garden won’t feel as though it is a lot of work!

No two low maintenance gardens then will ever be exactly the same.

In order to create the best garden for you; start by working out what you don’t like doing and find ways to minimise that.


Garden needs a Makeover?

When your garden needs a change but where do you begin?

Read more

What work does a garden actually create then?

Take this border for example, it may have been planted with a number of ‘easy care’ and low maintenance shrubs, but collectively it will cause an awful lot of work to keep it looking manicured.


 In the garden, most of your time will be taken up with:

  • Clipping and Pruning
  • Tying things in or stopping the flopping
  • Weeding
  • Watering
  • Deadheading
  • Stopping one plant taking oover the border
  • Mowing the lawn

How to keep a low maintenance garden:

As with anything, first you need to work out the problem, before you can find the right solution – which sometimes will mean 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 actual that small. 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.

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!

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!

The left hand garden will keep you busy.... but so will the right hand image too!

How to get Low Maintenance Garden Borders

Now clearly we could write a book on garden design that will help you plan your  garden better – and we have. There IS a book to help you

I Want to Like my Garden by Rachel McCartain available at Amazon and other online bookstores in eBook and Paperback

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