The green-fingered guide to low-maintenance gardens
Posted 5 September 2013 by Keith Osborne
Cooking, cleaning, decorating, ironing - where can I possibly find time for gardening you cry? You may be short of time, but an attractive, neat and tidy garden can still be yours through careful planningof your space, working in harmony with the right choice of seasonal greenery. It cannot be denied that gardens can be notoriously difficult to keep on top off with things quickly turning from floral fantastic to ridiculously rugged in the blink of an eye lid. This is where low-maintenance, high-impact gardens come into play, giving you less time wearing your marigolds and more leisure time out there enjoying your handiwork.
Follow these green-fingered commandments to prevent your weeds getting taller than your shrubs, and the amount of work invested staying minimal not monumental.
Limit your lawn
Beautiful, green and glossy yet perfectly manicured lawns as seen in magazines, on television and on your favourite football pitch are all down to a team of highly skilled professionals. Unless you have this amount of time to commit, chances are your lawn will never reach these high standards. Although the smell of freshly cut grass is hard to beat on a summer's day, regularly mowing the lawn is one of your garden's top time consumers. Consider whether the effort you are putting into maintaining your grass is worth the output; after all the British summer is limited.
It may be worth reducing the size of your lawn and consequently reducing the amount of hours dedicated to its upkeep. Paving slabs, gravel and decking are all practical alternatives. If mowing is a chore you'd rather cross off your list altogether, a fully landscaped area entirely paved may be your best option. Hard surfaces rather than compost or chippings will suppress weeds decreasing your time further.
Perfect your plants
According to the green-fingered queen of the garden Charlie Dimmock, when choosing plants try to avoid herbaceous plants (peony, ferns and grasses) where entirely possible and although colourful additions, try to keep the number of perennials used to a minimum (dahlia, foxglove, lavender) - these are two types of plants which demand attention.
More practical and easy-going options are flowering shrubs, mixed with a variety of evergreens and deciduous plants to add some variety and life into your garden. Although they take longer to establish than other more attention seeking garden alternatives, shrubs have something to offer all year round with beautiful flowers, leaves, barks, berries and scents.
Keep weeds at bay
Pulling your weeds as often as you can may sound like more work, but it actually works better in the long run. A few small weeds here and there are easier to tackle than a jungle of larger, more established weeds. Limit the paths that the weeds can take, either with a purpose-bought weed barrier or be more inventive and use newspaper, hay or straw to prevent weeds from spreading into your flowerbeds.
Round up the troops
The more hands in the garden, the less work for everyone involved. Gardening can be a great family activity creating a healthy hobby for children their entire lives. The great outdoors will also seem more appealing than a pile of ironing or washing up, so rounding up volunteers for the gardening should be relatively easy. Any garden, simple or elaborate, will require watering, something the little ones will jump to get involved with. What we can't guarantee is that everyone stays dry!
What are you waiting for?
Follow these labour-saving garden solutions to create a hassle-free garden to be proud of.