Having a low maintenance garden can conjure up visions of vast areas of uninspired paved areas and stone devoid of greenery but low maintenance doesn’t have to be sparce or boring. There are many ways to create a functional yet beautiful outdoor space that doesn’t require hours of upkeep on maintenance, weeding, mowing and the rest!
Planning is something that can often get overlooked but to achieve the garden that suits your needs, time available for upkeep and personal taste, it is a stage that shouldn’t be missed. First of all, you need to decide what you want from your outside space. For example, do you want to entertain in it and if so, only in summer or all year round? Perhaps you would like to ‘rewild’ your garden and create a space to get back to nature? Once you have decided your theme, you can get down to planning the features and hard landscaping choices.
Hard landscaping (the use of paths, walls or structures) within a garden is a great way to sculpt your outdoor space by creating definition between areas that will require minimal upkeep and maintenance whilst also being aesthetically pleasing. There are numerous colours, textures and grades of stone, paving and gravel to choose from to suit your needs. If you require a firmer surface underfoot but don’t want paving, then Cotswold Self-Binding Gravel is a great alternative ideal for pathways or parking areas. The use of weed control membranes under gravelled and planted areas will not only keep them looking great but save time and effort if you don’t have to weed. Whether you are after a sleek paved contemporary entertaining space for year-round use, or a cosy cottage style garden with a gravel path and raised beds, the use of hard landscaping shouldn’t be overlooked.
The use of clever lighting on paths, patios or permanent structures is a simple way of changing the feel of an area with just the flick of a switch! If redesigning your outdoor space seems like a daunting task than the use of a landscaping company such as Queen Thorne Landscapes can help from initial garden design and planning to completion.
Raised Beds and Container Planting
Raised beds and container planting are both firm favourites for low maintenance gardens. Not only are they easily accessible to maintain but they are also fairly easy to create either from stone or from wooden sleepers with the added bonus of adding height and texture. Filled with a premium compost your plants will be set to thrive! However, it is still important that you choose the right plants for the space and maintenance level you are able to provide. The RHS website or your local plant nursery will be able to help advise what plants to opt for depending on the space you have available. Vegetable and salad plants are popular choices for raised beds with lots of easy to grow options.
Container planting is a great way of introducing bursts of colour to hard landscaped areas such as decking, patios and any areas that may be lacking greenery but they will need regular watering (the same as raised beds) as can dry out quickly. A couple of ways to reduce the frequency of watering required is to use a moisture retaining granule such as ZEBA which retains water and nutrients, steadily releasing it as the plant needs (you can read more about ZEBA in last month’s blog). Planting larger containers will take longer to dry out and covering the top exposed soil with bark chippings or gravel will help to retain moisture in the soil.
Lawns can be considered the most time-consuming element of a garden but it doesn’t have to be! Over recent years, the development of colour and textures of artificial grass means that synthetic alternatives can be just as aesthetically pleasing as the real deal without the upkeep.
However, sometimes the synthetic alternates just aren’t the same and it’s worth the upkeep of having locally grown, quality turf. Now, there’s no denying that lawns do need an element of upkeep but low maintenance gardens should not be confused with no maintenance gardens. There will always be things to maintain in any garden but here are a few ways to reduce the time that having a natural lawn would need:
- Reduce the size of the lawn and keep the shape simple with crisp straight lines. The less curves, awkward bends and changes of direction you have to negotiate whilst mowing the more time you’ll save! The use of lawn edging can be really beneficial as it will keep the edges crisp without having to manually edge your lawn.
- Choose the right mower for your needs as the right mower will pay dividends in the long run. If you’re looking for the ultimate (time and effort saving) way of mowing your lawn then take a look at the Ambrogio range of robotic mowers. Once set up, these helpful little robots automatically cut your lawn and return themselves back to their charging base without you needing to lift a finger! If you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Ambrogio mowers mulch the clippings back into your lawn which returns valuable nutrients back into the soil with every cut.
- Rewilding with a wildflower mix or creating your own wildflower meadow can be a great way to include greenery and colour with very little maintenance required, all of which helps provide habitats for native wildlife and insects. You don’t need to have acres of paddocks to have your very own wildflower meadow as the John Chambers Wildflower Seed have seeds for all types of soil and growing conditions whether you have a shady corner you’d like to brighten or dense clay soil, there will be something for you.