Do you want your garden to look beautiful but find the work involved too much? From fuss-free paving to laid-back planting, these easy garden ideas will help you get the most out of your plot with the least effort.
Ditch the lawn and plant a wildflower meadow with hardy perennial flowers instead. You can also opt for shrub beds that won’t need constant pruning and trimming.
Choose Your Plants Wisely
If you are a gardener with little time, or just find gardening an insurmountable chore, then it’s worth trying out some low maintenance techniques. Here’s how:
Start with choosing the right plants. Avoid annual flowers which need constant attention to keep them looking their best, and consider planting a swathe of hardy meadow blooms such as rudbeckias, for an attractive summer display. You could also plant a handful of easy care perennials such as echinacea, sedums and achillea, or scatter a few meadow mix seeds in a wilder patch of your garden for a beautiful (and free) natural flower display that will attract lots of pollinators.
You can replace a lawn with paving or create gravel paths, and then add shrubs that can fill in underneath the trees – just make sure they are not invasive, which will spread across your garden in no time. Mulch with bark or gravel to suppress weeds and keep watering to a minimum.
Plan Your Layout
Keeping a garden looking tip-top can be time consuming. So if you want to reduce the amount of work required on your plot, think about the layout of your garden design ideas.
Ensure that your garden layout includes some open space and avoids dense planting, which can be difficult to maintain. Consider incorporating some hard landscaping, such as paving or decking, which are easier to care for than grass lawns. Opt for a low-absorbency material, such as porcelain or granite, which won’t need constant scrubbing and cleaning.
Try to replace any unnecessary grass areas with easy-care shrubs and perennials instead of requiring the attention of a weekly mower. Also, be sure to choose plants that are native to your local climate and soil. These will require less watering and fertilizer, and they’ll help restore local habitats and food sources for wildlife. Avoid plants that need staking, such as delphiniums, or climbers which need to be tied in (like ivy), as these will quickly take over your garden.
Think About Your Soil
Using the right plants in your low maintenance garden will help reduce the amount of work you have to do. Choose hardy plants and perennials that are well-suited to your soil conditions, such as succulents, herbs, native plants or ornamental grasses (like rudbeckias or sedges).
If you have a small area of annual planting, consider letting it go wild with a mix of easy-care flowers and meadow flowers like achilleas and echinaceas. A jumble of blooms looks beautiful and will attract pollinators, cutting down on the need for spraying and weeding.
To know your soil, have a professional soil test carried out – this will tell you what nutrients are in the ground and how best to amend it. This will help you cut down on the amount of watering you need to do and make your garden more sustainable in the long term.
Don’t Forget About Water
Even the keenest gardener will agree that watering a large area of garden regularly at the height of summer is a major chore. Instead, opt for drought tolerant plants that can thrive without extra watering such as shrubs and herbs, like Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ or lavender, and ornamental grasses including Mexican feathergrass (Stipa) and New Zealand flax (Phormium).
Grouping these kinds of plant together will reduce their competition for water. In addition, removing weeds regularly will further minimise their need for water.
If you are creating new growing areas as part of your low maintenance garden consider sheet mulching, ‘lasagna’ gardening or hugelkultur methods as these tend to require less digging work than regular conventional beds. They also help improve the soil structure over time – another big plus in terms of reducing maintenance effort. Similarly, consider planting fruit trees and vegetables that can be harvested little and often rather than all at once. This will reduce the amount of time you spend working in the garden and will allow you to enjoy it as a place to relax.