Many people have limited time for their gardens. Plan carefully; choose the right plants, and then your garden that will require very little maintenance after the first couple of years. Plants that can look after themselves are essential: if planted closely weeds will find it much harder to grow between them.
– It may be worth replacing your lawn with paving or gravel. You can still get the effect of greenery from low maintenance evergreen shrubs or grasses. If you keep it, let the grass grow a little longer and plant some wild flowers to give the feel of a meadow.
– If you prefer shorter grass, tougher grass types, for example, mixtures based on perennial rye grass, will need cutting less often. Features like island beds, sharp corners to the lawn and overhanging trees are all time consuming to mow around.
Other tips include:– In a children’s play area you could substitute grass with bark as a surface.
– Divide your garden into a series of rooms using hedges, trellis and climbers and then only garden intensively in one or two.
– Natural ponds require more maintenance than artificial pools or fountains.
– Mulch bare soil to prevent weeds.
– Avoid bedding plants because they need to be changed twice yearly, but scatter seed, such as nasturtiums and poppies, randomly in the garden and some of it will germinate quite quickly. Choose perennials like peonies that will look after themselves if put in the right soil and place.
– Make sure you choose the right plants for your soil, water and light levels and position – they’ll take far less effort.
– Grasses can look interesting, especially in paved areas or gravel, and may only need to be cut back in spring.
Water is a scarce resource and if metered an expensive one.
– Avoid sprays and sprinklers and use trickle irrigation systems.
– Raised beds (but set on soil to ensure good drainage) offer alternatives to containers.
– Locate taps in the right position for hoses.
– As hosepipe bans become more frequent, water butts, raised up high enough to allow a can underneath a tap at the base, will save you a lot of effort.
When planting your garden, consider how to give it some style as well as keeping it simple to look after. Choose the vertical elements carefully since they make such a strong impact on your garden but can vary hugely in cost and maintenance requirements.
Walls virtually look after themselves but they are expensive to build; fences and trellis need to be treated with preservative, but bamboo screens last without any treatment. Pierced concrete block is cheap, maintenance-free and its outlines can be softened with climbers. Hedges can be an easy option if you choose plants that don’t need too much trimming.
You need to think about flat surfaces too, because they are difficult to alter once they are in place. Paving slabs with well-mortared joints are probably the most straightforward option, although brick and concrete are easy to look after. Decking must be well preserved and needs regular treatment. Gravel can be used instead of paving, even on quite large areas. Firstly, lay a geo-textile membrane down to stop weeds growing through. For ease of walking, the depth of gravel should not exceed 2.5 cm/1 in and the pebble size is best kept to between 5-12 mm/2-5 in approximately.