Low Maintenance Gardens
Gardening can be a big task sometimes. If your gardens are becoming too overwhelming, here are a few ideas on how to make your residential landscaping a more pleasant, less labor-intensive activity. We've thought of a few ways for you to cut back on the maintenance and still have gorgeous residential landscaping that the neighbors will envy.
- Control your gardens size–especially the perennial gardens. The Chinese praise large gardens, but advise on planting smaller ones. Wise words indeed! Planting more and more can be a temptation when you have perennial divisions to put somewhere, or when you see all those bright displays at the garden center. Our advice is to take a firm stand. Plan wisely how much garden space would be enjoyable for you to maintain and stick to it. Don’t over-plant your gardens because this may become more of a burden than a pleasure. And keep in mind, that if you like the look of larger gardens, then go for more shrubs. Shrubs can be a lot less work than perennials.
- Avoid fussy, high maintenance plants. Plants that require frequent divisions and timely deadheading, or are inherently weak, spread too quickly, or aren’t long lived and require frequent replacement are plants to avoid.
- Don’t leave bare soil exposed on the garden bed surface. A 3” layer of mulch in the perennial gardens will help to keep in moisture and help prohibit weeds. Consider putting down ‘Preen’ preemergent herbicide granules on the bed surface in the spring to help prevent weed seeds from germinating. In the shrub beds, an even lower maintenance option is putting down fabric covered with landscaping rock. This will only require an occasional leaf blower. You can’t grow many perennials in this type of bed surface, but it makes shrub bed maintenance easier.
- Choose plants that are long-lived. Some perennials don’t live very long and you end up replacing them every so often. Choose long-lived perennials such as Astilbe, Old fashioned Bleeding Heart, Coralbells, Cranesbill, Daylily, Phlox, and Salvia.
- Avoid over-hybridized perennials. Certain perennials have been hybridized to obtain desirable features such as brighter colors, larger blooms and more fragrance, but this comes with a price. These plants sometimes have sacrificed their hardiness and vigor. Try looking around first at places like your local parks, and the neighborhood landscaping to see what does well in your area. Sometimes, tried and true varieties are your best bet.
- Choose trees that don’t make a lot of litter. There’s no getting around cleaning up after trees, but some trees are a little easier than others. Choose crabapple trees that have either no fruit or fruit that hangs on well. The large fruit that drops on the ground is a big hassle to clean up after. Oak trees have those acorns to deal with. Here’s a few low maintenance residential landscaping tree and shrub choices for our climate: River Birch, Japanese Maple, Fir, Spruce, Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and Serviceberry.
- Install something such as Aluminum Edging at the edge of the bed. There are many products available, but having a bed edger installed will prevent you from having to ‘cut’ a fresh bed edge by hand every so often. If you don’t have an edging then grass will eventually creep into the bed. There are many types of edging: Aluminum, concrete, sectional paver type units, and plastic (although plastic isn’t the ideal choice in our opinion due to it’s tendency to push up and get damaged by the lawn mower). Make sure you purchase quality products when it comes to bed edging.