While we all appreciate some outdoor space, not everyone has the time or inclination for looking after a garden. Lawns need constant edging and mowing, beds need weeding, plants need pruning, watering, fertilising or staking up. Some people like nothing better than to get out there with a pair of gardening gloves and a copy of the RHS Plant Finder, but if that’s not your cup of tea then think about designing a garden you can enjoy without the work.
Planning a low maintenance garden
The first thing to think about is how much work you want to do in your garden, and how you’re going to use the space.
For example, if you only have an hour spare every fortnight or so, you might like to concentrate your efforts on growing a single, spectacular bed of flowers or vegetables and using an ‘easy care’ design for the rest. You might never really go into your garden, but appreciate the view it makes from the living room. You might like eating out there every summer night, but never have time to mow the lawn.
Be honest about how much time you’ll have for maintenance on an on-going basis – it’s best not to be too ambitious!
What to plant for a low maintenance garden
A low maintenance garden doesn’t have to be one empty of plants. There are lots of plants you can choose which will look after themselves and require no or very little maintenance. Exactly what you choose will depend on your soil type and the amount of sun your garden gets. Take a look at the RHS plant finder guide for specific suggestions (remember to tick the ‘low maintenance’ box on the form!) but plants to consider include:
- Azaleas – very hardy, don’t need watering once they’ve established and will provide weeks of glorious colour.
- Lavender – lavender is surprisingly hardy, and once established doesn’t need watering even in the driest conditions. The only maintenance it needs is a good prune once it’s flowered.
- Most types of bulb – including daffodils, crocuses, bluebells and snowdrops. Once they’re planted, bulbs will continue to flower year after year with no more input from you.
- Ornamental grasses – if you like a more contemporary, architectural look, then ornamental grasses look great in raised beds and planters. They are pretty much maintenance-free, but don’t flower so won’t add any colour to the garden.
- Hardy geraniums – the problem with these isn’t to grow them but to stop them growing! There are various varieties and colours available, and they’ll quickly spread around the garden adding colour to every area. The only maintenance you have to do is digging up clumps of them if they’ve grown where you don’t want them.
Planning the layout of your garden
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to use your outdoor space, you can get down to planning the nitty gritty.
If you’ve decided against a lawn, consider gravel, paving, decking or artificial grass. If you only have a small patch of lawn, you could leave it alone and sow some meadow flowers to create a wildlife garden. Gravel is low maintenance but will need raking occasionally, decking will need regular sweeping, washing and occasional re-staining.
Paving stones will need sweeping, and possibly occasional pressure washing or treating with moss killer. Artificial grass is the lowest maintenance option, and has evolved hugely in recent years, but isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
If you have flower beds or planters, think about how you’re going to get water to them – it could be worth installing an automatic system.
Then, all you need to do is sit back and relax and enjoy your outdoor space.
Image credits: Pixabay