How to design a lower maintenance garden
No-one wants to be a slave to their garden, yet modifying an existing landscape to be easier to manage or designing a new, easy-care garden can be a daunting challenge. However, it really is possible to have a beautiful, low maintenance garden that offers year-round interest, seasonal highlights, fragrance, and abundant color from both foliage and flowers.
The first step is to identify those gardening activities that you find to be most time consuming and the least enjoyable, then finding ways to reduce or eliminate them.
Which activities do you consider to be hard work?
- Mowing the lawn?
- Weeds thrive in disturbed, exposed soil. Can you add a mulch in spring to suppress weeds?
- Can you add some easy-care ground-covering shrubs or perennials to crowd out the weeds?
- Select shrubs, perennials, and annuals that will re-bloom or flower for extended periods of time without the need for deadheading.
- Dividing perennials?
- Focus on easy-care perennials that do not need to be divided for vigor or continued bloom and avoid those that need regular division.
- Raking leaves in fall?
- Consider a ratio of evergreens: deciduous trees & shrubs:perennials of 3:2:1 to reduce the need for raking yet still retaining fall color and flowers.
- Cleaning out the pond?
- Self-contained, re-circulating fountains are much less work than ponds or lined waterfalls yet still attract birds and introduce sound.
Do you have suggestions for reducing garden maintenance? Send us your ideas!
Online courses & workshops
Inspirational Stories & Helpful links
My Garden: Working with Nature to Reinvent a Front Yard; An “old school” grassy front yard is transformed into a thriving Zen-like retreat
Water Wisdom: An Eco-Friendly Santa Fe Garden; A garden in Santa Fe honors the native landscape and makes the most of every drop of rain that falls
Global Warming and Gardens; Climate change is not only coming, it's already well underway. What can our gardens expect?
Natural Methods to Get Rid of Common Garden Weeds; 10 ways to control weeds and keep them out of your lawn and garden—including natural weed killers
All these titles are rated 4 stars or higher!
50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants by Tracy DiSabato-Aust (Timber Press, 2009)
Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Pam Penick (Timber Press, 2013)
The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants for a Lush, Low-Water Landscape by Greg Rubin and Lucy Warren (Timber Press, 2016)
The Right-Size Flower Garden: Simplify Your Outdoor Space with Smart Design Solutions and Plant Choices by Kerry Ann Mendez (St. Lynn's Press, 2015)
Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older by Sydney Eddison (Timber Press, 2011)
Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life by Jan Coppola Bills (St. Lynn's Press, 2016)
The Lifelong Gardener: Garden with Ease and Joy at Any Age by Toni Gattone (Timber Press, 2019)