(A "Low – Care” Landscape for the "Absentee Gardener”)
Many of the projects that we undertake in the Lakes Region of NH are vacation homes for people that do not spend all their time at that home. When you come to your vacation home for the weekend or for a couple of weeks at a time, who wants to spend their vacation time doing maintenance? Not me! For the "Absentee Gardener”, low maintenance designs are really important. Before you install anything or plant anything, keep in mind how much maintenance it will require. Low maintenance is the most common request we run across when talking about "Landscape Solutions”.
The goal on a "Low – Care” Landscape is to do less trimming, weeding, mowing, and fertilizing and use less water, energy, and chemicals. The main ideas to incorporate into the landscaping in order to achieve these goals, is to include ideas for plant selection and organization as well as hardscape selection and design that will best be suited for low maintenance.
First of all, consider the "bones” in the landscape design. These are the hardscape elements such as Retaining walls, patios, and paths. Choose surfaces that are easy to maintain. If the patio and paths, for example, have smooth surfaces for easy snow removal, and shallow curves for easy lawn cutting, then maintenance is automatically reduced just by the design. Do not create tight little spaces with grass in them where the riding mower can’t easily reach. Also, you’ll want to create terraces in a more sloped situation where there will be grass so that mowing will be easier. Another thought for a steep slope instead of terracing and grass would be to plant a low-care plant on the entire slope, thereby eliminating any walls or grass! When you plan a retaining wall, a good way to help reduce your maintenance is to install a "maintenance-strip” of something such as a foot-wide area of mulch along the wall so that no weed-whacking will be required.
When choosing plant material, there are a lot of plants that require lower maintenance than others. First of all, always choose a plant that is suited to its particular location. Do not choose a shrub that wants to grow to 8’ tall when your space dictates that it should only mature at 5’-6’ tall. If you choose that taller shrub, you’ll have to do a lot of trimming to try and force it to stay shorter. Second, choose plants that require little to no ‘deadheading’. Many perennials need regular deadheading to look their best, and many will require regular dividing. Choose perennials that aren’t so fussy. Ornamental grasses are a great low-care plant. When it comes to trees and shrubs, make sure that you pick the right plant for the spot. Do not put a sun-loving plant in the shade. Make sure that if you have a wet soil area that you choose a plant that likes the wet soil. By doing these simple, common sense things, you will avoid many plant diseases, and the maintenance that will occur because of it. If you are not going to have an irrigation system, it is essential to choose plants that are drought tolerant.
If you are an "Absentee Gardener” be sure to ask us to design your garden with low maintenance in mind. This is the best "Landscape Solution” for many of our Lakes Region vacation homeowners.