There are many reasons that people prefer a low maintenance garden:
- Lack of time – especially for those who commute or work away from home
- Lack of ability to garden (mobility or health issues)
- Competing time constraints – young children or grandchildren, a demanding career or an all-consuming hobby
- Lack of interest – not everybody loves to garden!
Regardless of the reason for seeking a low maintenance garden, we have some tips to help you design an easy to maintain garden that is also beautiful, productive and rewarding.
Create the garden frame
A low maintenance garden is built from the outside in, which is the opposite of a high maintenance garden which generally starts from the inside (plants) and works outwards to the framing structures.
The elements that frame a garden are:
- Fences or hedges
- Entrances and exits (gates etc)
- Structures (sheds, summerhouses, pergolas, hot tubs, patios etc)
Essentially, if you imagine what you would see in a garden on a bleak winter’s day when the plants are dormant, that’s the frame.
can be a dominant feature, and if you choose a ColourFence, you are looking at a stunning frame that is also virtually maintenance free, which immediately makes your garden a much less demanding prospect – no painting, repairing or even inspecting, just the pleasure of a sturdy, elegantly-coloured boundary fence that requires nothing of you but admiration and the occasional hose down which will keep it looking as good as new.
Paths should be simple to maintain – concrete, natural stone, paving or brick paths require the least maintenance, whilst gravel tends to need levelling and raking. Decking paths are popular but will need repainting and may need to be scrubbed in winter to remove algae which is a slip hazard. Other forms of paving, like mulch or grass paths require regular maintenance that is both time-consuming and costly.
Entrances and exits
Entrances & Exits to the garden can be features as well as necessary access points. A beautiful garden gate can offer interest winter and summer, and we’d recommend Colourail gates maintenance free gates which are manufactured and powder coated to exacting standards to ensure they stand up to constant use – these gates also come with loop, loop and spear, spear, or flat top finish to fit with your garden theme. A gate is the most used garden structure after a path, so it’s vital that it be maintenance free. Wrought iron gates are as durable as Colourrail, but expensive and require maintenance in the form of painting, whilst wooden gates require wood preserving or painting on a regular basis and will rot or warp over time.
Structures can make wonderful garden features if used appropriately. If you have a garden shed, why not turn it into a feature? With ColourShed’s modern design our newly launched sheds are ideal for any garden and because of it’s unique time-saving, storage and low maintenance properties, it’s more than likely to become a positive talking point during social events.
Now for something that’s the opposite of low maintenance but makes for an excellent showpiece is… a jacuzzi! A jacuzzi with outdoor decking can be an excellent feature that encourages engagement with the garden both day and night!
Many low maintenance gardens also feature paving and patios, and these, if combined with an arch or pergola, can add interest in both the horizontal and vertical planes.
Planting for low maintenance gardens
The two most time-consuming garden features are:
- A lawn
- Rose bushes.
Lawns require planting, mowing, weeding, watering and aerating. You can’t walk on them in winter or you create bald patches and you have to dispose of the cuttings. Roses require planting, pruning, deadheading and feeding, are prone to disease, and only flower for, at most, two months of the year.
Replace a lawn with paving, or with gravel areas to reduce garden maintenance. If you really must have a ‘lawn’ consider a chamomile lawn or a perennial meadow, as these both require much less upkeep and offer more interest throughout the year, not least because both support more wildlife than a lawn. Another alternative is artificial turf (although that still needs to be vacuumed!)
You can break up areas of paving and gravel with mulch, to provide interesting textures and colours with little or no maintenance.
Roses are beautiful, there’s no doubt about that, but as garden plants they are amongst the most expensive, when you measure their initial cost, their high maintenance requirements and their short season of interest.
Replace roses with stunning shrubs that have more than one season of interest.
- Hamamelis (witch hazel) which has yellow or orange flowers in January or February, as well as offering beautiful autumn leaf colour
- Pyracantha which is a great climber if you grow it against a ColourFence but can also be a stand-alone shrub. It has neat green leaves and stunning red or orange berries right through the winter
- For a spring shrub that flowers from as early as January for several months, try Chaenomeles (Japanese quince). With bright coral flowers in spring, it also bears decorative golden fruit throughout the autumn/winter months, giving it one of the longest seasons of interest of all plants and it can be trained along a fence and/or grown up a trellis and needs little or no maintenance.