If you are anything like me, the idea of having a beautiful garden appeals to you, but the actual execution and upkeep doesn’t come so easy. Sure, I would love to win a Trillium award for having the greenest of thumbs, but if I’m being realistic with myself, it’s never going to happen. I would start with the best of intentions only to have everything slowly die while I stand there thinking, ‘wait, I was supposed to water this how often?’. So, the solution to having a nice looking yard and not having to spend the majority of my evenings weeding, watering and wallowing in my poor decision to attempt it in the first place? Jumping on the low maintenance team. Still effort, but considerably less so. I’ve rounded up some tips, so that my non-green thumbed brethren can still enjoy the beauty of a nice yard, without the fear of it reaching “a witch lives next door” proportion. While there is no such thing as a no-maintenance lawn, there are definitely ways to decrease the workload.
When you begin to plan your garden, decide what elements are the most important to you, and put the majority of your efforts towards that, making the rest of the area easy to deal with. If you heart lies with your veggie patch, put that high on your priority list and minimize the effort involved in everything else.
Sometimes the prep for a low maintenance garden is quite a bit of work up front in terms of coming up with a plan and executing it, but it’s worth it in the long run. When choosing plants, you want to make sure you are choosing ones that grow well in your area (check the plant hardiness zones in Canada at planthardiness.gc.ca), and by doing so, you’ll have won half the battle.
You can reduce the size of your lawn by increasing the amount of bushes and shrubs you have around the perimeter.
If you only have a small lawn, consider getting rid of it completely. Cover the ground with paths or stones that are interspersing with plants and scrubs, rocks, benches or birdbaths.
If you have hedges, consider replacing them with wooden fencing. You can then attach lattice to the fencing, get a flowering wine and train it to cover the lattice. Once it’s trained, there is minimal maintenance.
Many annuals, perennials and scrubs need to be deadheaded fairly often during the season. If you choose flowering shrubs, pick ones that don’t require you to do this. Some of these include Potentilla, Dwarf Lilac and St. John’s Wort.
You can also choose larger shrubs that basically take care of themselves: Weigela, Burningbush, Winterberry (and others)
If you put down a weed suppressing fabric, it’s easy to grow shrubs through. You can cover the fabric with bark or mulch, and you likely won’t need to weed very often at all.
Things you’ll want to avoid because they tend to be very high maintenance include: containers, tender plants, large specimen plants, fast growing hedges.
Perennials to plant that are fairly low maintenance: Siberian iris, old-fashioned bleeding heart, winter glow bergenia, Jack Frost brunnera, candy daylily, prairie splendor purple coneflower, may night salvia, black eyed Susan, garden phlox, hostas, blazing star, hibiscus, bellflower.
Written By: Megan Pasche