7 tips for Creating the Low Maintenance Garden

Low Maintenance Garden, it’s the perfect fit for a busy life.

“Plan before you dive right in,” advises landscape architect John Sabol of Hatch Mott MacDonald in New Jersey. “That’s the most important thing to do.”

He offered these seven tips for creating the high in beauty, light on work garden of your dreams:

Should I test my soil before planting?

It’s important to have your soil tested at your local agriculture school or cooperative extension service because its acidity will determine which plants will grow well in it. Call first for specific instructions on digging the sample. Then, bring it in or mail it to be tested. Once you know your soil type, check out the native plants that thrive in that environment. That will spare you work adjusting the acidity, adding nutrients to the soil, and monitoring moisture. Test in early March so you will have time to adjust the soil before spring planting.

Native Plants

Low maintenance gardening all boils down to plant choice. By choosing native plants that already like local soil, rainfall, and temperature, you won’t have to water or fertilize as much. Ask your local cooperative extension service for a list of native plants.

Color in Your Garden

If you want a pop of color in your garden but don’t want to invest time and money in large plots of annuals, limit the annuals to one-third of the total number of plants in the garden. You will still have color but you won’t have to spend as much time and effort planting, watering, and fertilizing.

Mature Size

Select a plant or shrub according to its mature size, not its size at the time of purchase. By doing so you can avoid or reduce the amount of pruning to keep it from blocking sunlight to smaller plants. A good plant for a low-maintenance garden is liriope. It’s evergreen, low growing, flowering, and won’t spread on its own. Other choices include daylilies, hosta, and coreopsis (“moonbeam”). If you want each plant to stay in its designated spot, avoid self-sowing plants like mint, as they’ll take over your garden.

How to Keep Soil Moist and Get Rid of Weeds?

For most people, weeding a garden is a miserable chore, especially during the dog days of summer. The good news is you can virtually get rid of weeds if you add four to six inches of mulch to your garden. Fewer weeds mean less work for you. Mulch also keeps moisture in the soil, thus conserving water and time spent watering.

Garden Watering Devices

Unless you are growing cactus, you will need to water your garden every day. Save yourself the time and work of watering with a hose by using a watering device such as those listed below. Lighten your work even more by attaching a timer like Melnor Digital Water Timer to them. Set them up once and you will water your garden all year without lifting a finger.

Drip hoses: Sabol’s choice for efficiency and water conservation, drip hoses remain in place around each plant, weeping water slowly through the sides of the hose onto the roots of plants.

Overhead or in-ground sprinkler systems: These are designed to target specific areas of a garden, conserving water and time.

Oscillating sprinklers: Although not as efficient in conserving water as drip hoses, sprinklers such as Melnor’s Deluxe Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler are more time-efficient than watering by hand. Plus, they cost less than the above-listed devices.

Container Gardening

If you want a garden but don’t have a yard, or if you’re physically unable to kneel and pull weeds, consider a container garden. It may not be as large as an in-ground garden, but look on the bright side — it will be easier to maintain and it will have far fewer weeds. Choose containers with openings on the bottom for draining, and use quality potting soil like Miracle-Gro. Because container plants have only so much soil to extract nutrients from, daily watering and regular fertilizing are important. Follow these low-maintenance garden tips and you’ll have your own piece of Eden right on your patio.

Image via Housebeautiful.com


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