Tuesday, July 26
A Couch Potatoes Guide to Maintenance Free Landscaping
For busy people, maintaining a landscape is a time consuming chore. Short of hiring a professional, it may seem impossible to have a beautiful garden. While no landscape is completely maintenance free, it is possible to have a glorious garden and still keep your day job.
Plan In Advance
A maintenance free landscape will do many things. It needs to look pretty throughout the changing seasons, it needs to be fairly hardy, and it should take minimal effort to keep it up. Although it sounds like a tall order, it can be a very simple thing to do.
Hardscape wherever it is possible to do so. Concrete, stone pavers or tile in place of grass will cut down on the amount of yard work that needs to be done. The goal is not to cover everything, but rather to create functional space around the plantings. Install a patio, sidewalk, or parking area in place of grass.
Choose plants that are easy to care for. Evergreens look nice all year round. Stay away from plants that require a lot of trimming or watering. Native species are adapted to do quite well in their own environment, so those should be at the top of the list.
Cut down on the weeding requirement. Flowerbeds and gardens that have cloth weed barriers are the best. Although the stray weed may pop through, it requires far less work than would otherwise be called for. Caution must be used when selecting plants because the only openings in a weed barrier are the ones that are cut when the plant is put into the ground.
Automatic Irrigation systems take the guesswork out of watering. Depending on the size of the space, they can be very reasonably priced. Do-it-yourselfers may be able to install these themselves. This also serves to conserve water, so it is good for drought areas.
Rock gardens can be very showy and incorporate just a few plants. While typically seen in desert communities, they also work well in areas that are more humid. Ferns and begonias are excellent substitutes for the old standby cactuses.
Hillsides and slopes can also be made to look nice. Erosion control blankets are available at most nurseries. Add a few evergreen shrubs and mulch to create an instant and maintenance free hillscape.
Plan for dogs and small children. In areas where there will be grass, choose types that withstand heavy foot traffic. Clover, Bermuda, and Kentucky Bluegrass are tough varieties. Wireless containment fences work wonders at keeping dogs out of flowerbeds. Research plants that are non-toxic and incorporate those as well.