18 secrets to planning a low-maintenance garden

When it comes to having a lovely garden, who doesn't enjoy the idea of all those wonderful flowers minus the hard work caring for them. You can save yourself lots of time and money in the long-run by carefully planning a low-maintenance garden. Here are some tips to help you get started.

18 secrets to planning a low-maintenance garden

1. Make a plan

Whether you're starting from scratch or making over an existing landscape, start with a plan. Think about how you want to use your space, how much money you want to spend, and how much time you want to devote to creating and maintaining a landscape. Then stick with your plan to keep your workload to a minimum.

2. Keep it small

Despite the appeal of a large yard with expansive beds, your maintenance obligations increase with your landscape's size. Reducing the scale of your project translates into less work.

3. Choose low-maintenance plants

Keep your landscape plans manageable. Don't let yourself be tempted into taking on a bigger project than you have time for. And, no matter how appealing, avoid plants that need lots of attention, outgrow their space or become invasive.

4. Find long-term solutions

Identify the ongoing maintenance headaches that require your attention year after year and commit to finding long-term solutions. Crossing known problems off your maintenance list will lighten your workload all season long.

5. Install a sprinkler system

For precise and consistent watering without lifting a finger, install an automatic irrigation system. You can buy do-it-yourself systems at home-and-garden centres or hire a professional to do the job.

6. Plant near water access

Make sure you have easy access to water all around your property, including outdoor spigots, sprinklers and hoses. This helps to keep your plants watered with minimal effort throughout the growing season.

7. Get organized

Save time by organizing your landscape according to care requirements. Some plants suffer in summer's heat and need frequent watering, while others thrive on neglect.

8. Choose easy-to-maintain grass

A traditional lawn requires frequent mowing and watering to retain its lush appearance. Cut your workload by choosing a grass that thrives in your area, or by converting some of your lawn to ground covers.

9. Separate with a barrier

A clean edge that separates your lawn, paths and beds gives your landscape a professional look. Many gardeners find that separation zone is easier to maintain if they use a vinyl, metal or brick edging material to keep mulch or gravel from spilling onto the lawn. It also prevents grass from growing into the flower beds.

10. Choose low-maintenance surroundings

When considering landscape construction options and materials, keep ongoing maintenance in mind, as it can add to the initial cost. Paved and gravel-covered areas, such as patios and walkways, are generally low-maintenance.

11. Think strategically

Handling a lawn mower on a steep slope is hard work and potentially dangerous. Consider modifying the grade by terracing it. Or replace a hillside of grass with ground cover.

12. Maximize shrubs

Trees and shrubs anchor a landscape for the long term. Avoid those that drop fruit or are susceptible to disease or pests. And keep their mature sizes in mind when planting, so they won't have to be moved or need frequent pruning.

13. Organize your tools

Find a convenient place to keep your gardening tools and supplies accessible and organized. Whether you build a freestanding shed or simply take over a corner of your garage, you'll save time when you can easily keep track of your tools.

14. Consider ground covers

Ground covers are practical, low-maintenance choices for challenging landscape areas. Before you plant, kill the grass and weeds in the desired bed and double-check to make sure the plant you select is not invasive.

15. Buy durable goods

Having the right tools – and keeping them in good condition – makes all your maintenance tasks easier. Buy products that are durable, comfortable to use, and appropriate for your property's size and specific needs.

16. Keep containers close

Container gardens are a favourite for outdoor decor, but they often require daily watering and frequent fertilizing to look their best. To reduce the workload, cluster your containers for convenient watering, use large pots to prevent the soil from drying out quickly, incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into the soil and try self-watering pots.

17. Choose fertilizer wisely

When it comes to fertilizers, slow-release products require fewer applications than fast-release ones, and in general, less is better than more. For overall soil improvement, consider using compost, which you can make right in your yard.

18. Use mulch

If you do only one thing to shorten your landscaping to-do list, put down a layer of mulch on all your garden beds. A 5- to 10-centimetre (two- to four-inch) layer of leaves, evergreen needles or wood chips reduces the soil's need for water and keeps the weeds under control. As a bonus, the mulch improves the soil as it breaks down.

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