6 main rules of a low-maintenance garden from a landscape designer
I have been engaged in landscape design for more than ten years. When people ask, “make me a maintenance-free garden,” they primarily mean the presence of plants that do not require any worries. But you need to understand that the term "low maintenance" does not imply the abandonment of watering, fertilizing, pruning and other actions. There are no plants that do not require care at all. Our task is to make these works as comfortable as possible. In addition, staying in the garden is not only caring for plants, but also many other things and concerns. Therefore, I propose to consider the concept of low-maintenance in a broader sense.
1. Site functionality
The first thing we must take care of when creating a low-maintenance garden is the functionality of the site. You need to think through everything to the smallest detail, because household inconveniences cause so many troubles that all the pleasure of staying in the country, in the garden will be spoiled by these very troubles.
I will list the points, the importance of which for some reason is underestimated by the owners of the sites:
- The presence of composter. And if the plot is large in area, then composters should be arranged in different parts of the garden. It is extremely inconvenient and time-consuming to dispose of plant debris if there is nowhere to compost them.
- A water tank, in my opinion, is a must. Another thing is how it will look and where it is located, but this is a topic for a separate article.
- Economic entry will save you nerves and money, although it will take away some area from the garden. But when you need to bring sand, boards or something else, you will appreciate this convenience.
- Inventory storage should be organized so that tools are easy to take and quickly find.
- And even a place for drying clothes - think in advance where it is better to place it.
2. Road-path network
The second thing you need to pay attention to is a convenient road-path network. Everyone knows that after building a house and other buildings, you need to make paths on the site and make them qualitatively. But in practice, it is precisely the ill-conceived paths that lead to the fact that movement in the garden becomes uncomfortable and complicates the care of it.
- You can not save on the width of the tracks, especially in the garden area. If it is impossible to use a garden wheelbarrow, or calmly walk with a bucket in your hands, then what is the convenience?
- Docking and crossing tracks should be without sharp corners - this is a must! If you do not broaden the site at the intersection of paths, then the lawn will be trampled there or flowers will be broken, because a person will step into this place, because we always round corners when moving.
- The layout of the tiles - without cruciform intersections, this is especially important on heaving soils.
- Choose a tile without a bevel, such a track is difficult to keep clean, and this, you know, does not help minimize maintenance.
3. Irrigation system
The third is watering. A properly organized irrigation system will free 30-50 percent of the time from all garden care. By the way, you need to water a beautiful lawn every day if there is no rain.
- Ideally, you need to do autowatering on the site.
- If the autowatering device is not financially justified, then you need to make the correct and convenient pipe routing around the site.
- In the area of the garden, it is desirable to make drip irrigation, these costs will pay off handsomely, believe me.
4. Plant selection
So we got to the most interesting thing - the selection of an assortment of plants for planting. I will list them as the complexity of care increases:
- Coniferous trees;
- Deciduous trees;
- Coniferous shrubs;
- Deciduous shrubs;
- Plants with inappropriate winter hardiness and exotics.
Within each of these points, several more plant species can be considered.
It must be understood that species plants are always more stable, which means they require less maintenance. Varietal plants should be selected for the winter hardiness zone and, importantly, for the microclimate of your site. If you go to the garden center and buy everything that you like on the principle of “oh, how pretty,” then with a high probability low-maintenance plants will not be added to your garden. I advise you first to make a list of plants that you want to have, using directories, the Internet and other materials. And then study their characteristics.
What to look for:
Frost resistance of plants
If you live in an area where in winter the temperature drops to -25 ... -35 ° C, then the plant should correspond to 4 winter hardiness zones, this is a temperature range from -29 to -35 ° C. Then the plant does not have to be covered for the winter, and you will certainly admire the flowering of shrubs that bloom on the shoots of last year. it tamarix (comb), stefanander, Forsythia, mocker, some types of spirai (mainly early flowering - spirea Wangutta, Thunberg, spiky, nippon, oak-leaved) and others.
Read more about winter hardiness of plants in the article Zones of frost resistance of plants - what are and why should they be known?
If the plant as a whole is winter-hardy, but more capricious in agricultural technology, you will have to look for a place in the garden where the plant will be comfortable, or create such conditions on purpose.
For example, many varieties of barberry Tunberg they freeze above the snow cover and then recover for a long time, and if you select a place that is bright, but protected from the wind, we will help the shrub winter more successfully.
Hydrangeas panicled and tree-like shrubs are generally very unpretentious shrubs and can grow both in partial shade and in the sun, but if you plant hydrangea in a sunny place, you will have to water it more abundantly.
Large-leaved hydrangeas in Western Siberia do not winter in open ground. Therefore, if you want to have a chic flowering specimen, then this is possible only in a pot culture with annual transshipment, enhanced dressing and wintering in a greenhouse or basement at a temperature of 0 ... + 5 ° C.
The right choice of conifers
When choosing conifers and shrubs, prefer varieties that will not “burn” in your area. To understand what kind of varieties it is, you will have to collect information: talk with neighbors, sellers in local markets, search social networks for enthusiastic gardeners, ask them questions. This way you can significantly reduce the risk of acquiring unstable plants, which means saving your time and money.
For example, so beloved by us thuja columnar (all varieties) are prone to spring burns, so I highly recommend planting them on the shady side. But thuja spherical with green needles, such as Danica, do not burn even with a solar exposure, although they feel good in the shade.
Colon-shaped needles are more resistant to burns junipers, but among junipers of medium and creeping, there are many varieties prone to this problem. Varieties with prickly, stiff needles are especially burnt.
Plants for vertical gardening
If you choose a plant for vertical gardening, then you need to know that girl's grape, which has a lot of advantages (unpretentiousness, rapid growth, foliage reddening in autumn, affordable price) has the property to grow so uncontrollably that it will have to be cut several times a season to keep it in the right frame.
If there are few places for planting creeper, then it is better to choose clematis, there are a lot of them and very different. If you want large-flowered clematis, then buy a variety of the third pruning group, such clematis bloom on the shoots of the current year, and you do not need to worry about preserving last year's lashes. Before winter, the plant is simply cut off, leaving hemp 7-10cm.
Plants for flower beds
When choosing plants for flower beds, give preference to stably decorative. Such perennials are always beautiful, even in a non-blooming state: they have healthy foliage, they do not fall apart from rain and wind, and are not susceptible to diseases and pests. it bergenia, hellebores, backache, buzulniki, hosts, peonies, astrantia, window sills, veronicoastrum, Volzhanka, loosestrums, aconites, autumn flowering anemones, visible stonecrops, Siberian irises, daylilies.
Of the perennials I have listed, only daylilies need abundant top dressing for lush flowering, all the rest can be satisfied with the nutrition that will be laid in the landing pit for a very long time.
Of course, if you feed and water, then any plants will be thanked for their good growth and flowering appearance. We are talking about those perennials that do well without much care and, in addition, grow for a long time in one place, without requiring frequent divisions and transplants.
There should be no bare land on the site. Earth does not tolerate emptiness, and weed control is not part of our plans. All areas under decorative plantings and flower beds need to be mulched. It is better to mulch, having previously covered the soil with geotextiles.
This also applies to the garden.
Read more about mulching in article 4 of the type of mulch on my site - the pros and cons of use.
6. The size and shape of the lawn
Another important point - the size and shape of the lawn must be carefully thought out and calculated. Designed for the width of the lawn mower and without sharp corners. Then you don’t have to go with the lawn mower once again or cut off the “inconvenience” additionally using scissors. A lawn mower is better than a gas mower and, of course, with a grass catcher.
And do not put lights on the lawn! They are very inconvenient to mow.
Dear readers! I hope that my advice gained from my own experience will be useful to you. And even if you don’t make any part of the mistakes when creating your garden, it means that I wrote this article for good reason.