Auto Carousel jQuery by v2.9

Low Maintenance Gardens

“Low maintenance” is a term thrown around the landscaping industry with reckless abandon.  It has become, as much as anything, a marketing term - much like the designation “healthy” on food products.  The definition of “healthy” is relative, and so is the definition of “low maintenance”.  We are often asked to create low maintenance gardens, and this article is intended to provide a brief overview of just what a low maintenance garden is, and how best to create one.

First, what is low maintenance?  It certainly isn’t a garden that requires no tending.  The only way to avoid any maintenance in your garden is to hire a gardener to do it for you (which we will gladly do ;).  Otherwise, you will be stuck with some work - the key is in minimizing the effort.  Garden maintenance generally includes: deadheading, dividing, removing suckers, litter cleanup, soil amendment, dealing with pests, cutting back overgrown plants, protecting for winter, and watering.   A low maintenance garden is designed with the reduction of these tasks in mind.  Some or all of these tasks will remain no matter what the design, but with careful planing and plant selection they can be reduced.

1.  Design the space to make maintenance easier.  Since some maintenance will always remain, gardens should be designed to make that maintenance less difficult.  You can create raised beds, making weeding and deadheading etc... less effort and easier on the back/legs.    Designing your front-yard gardens to be near your usual route in and out of the house means you are more likely to stop for a minute and pick a few weeds or deadhead a few plants - integrate your garden into your daily space rather than pushing them to the periphery.  

2.  Choose the right plants for your space. Integrating native plants into a low maintenance garden is a good idea. Native plants are self selected to do well in our climate, and the healthier the plants the lower the maintenance. Some plants require a lot of cleanup and maintenance inherently. Delphiniums generally require staking (which is rarely a one and done chore). Roses require regular care and are often sensitive to soil health. Choosing plants that are hardy to our zone (although the tags can't always be trusted), shade plants for shady areas and sun plants for sunny areas are simple, but effective rules to ensure garden health.

3.  Be proactive.  With gardens, a little work now saves a lot of work later.  Regular weeding, pest control, soil amendment, mulching and plant care can take just a few hours a month and will result in a beautiful, healthy garden for the entire season.  On the other hand, just as with your car, differed maintenance can lead to a whole host of trouble while reducing your enjoyment of your space in the meantime.  When you put off caring for your garden, particularly your fall and spring cleanup, you allow problems with weeds and pests to ‘take root’.  Before long it is hard to tell the weeds from the specimens, you have weed roots invading your entire yard, and it all becomes too much bother.  Eventually you have to resign yourself to grabbing the shovel and devoting several weekends to starting over, or paying someone else to do it (likely at a cost higher than several years of maintenance would have been).  As a company that provides maintenance we can attest that some of our customers spend as little as $100/month to keep their garden maintained and looking its best.