Low Maintenance Garden
People often write to Don asking for his advice on setting up easy care gardens. They explain that they love gardens, but they lead busy lives and don’t have much time to spend on maintenance. Over the years many experts have claimed that Australian native plants are very low maintenance, but Don does not agree. He explained that some plants are easy to look after and others are not, and it makes no difference where the plants come from. However, there are some simple things you can do if you don’t want to spend every weekend pruning or pulling up weeds.
High maintenance garden elements
Lawn is the most work intensive part of any garden. It regularly needs mowing, edging, fertilising and spraying for weeds like bindii. Don recommends excluding the lawn and going to paving, particularly if you have a small garden. If you want to keep the lawn, make sure that you put in solid edging to make mowing easier and prevent grass from growing into the garden beds.
Hedges, topiarised plants and standards need constant trimming. If you like shapely plants but don’t have time to spend pruning, think about planting conifers such as Spartan juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Spartan’). Conifers are very neat, they don’t drop leaves and they don’t need to be trimmed. Messy trees such as jacarandas (Jacaranda mimosifolia) or silky oaks (Grevillea robusta) are not suitable for low maintenance gardens.
Gravel looks wonderful on garden beds and driveways, but it’s often spread onto nearby areas by people or animals. Pebbles get caught in shoes with rippled soles and you’ll be forever sweeping it up. If you want a low maintenance garden you’re probably best to avoid it.
Mulch garden beds to help prevent weed growth, keep the soil temperature constant, and cut down on watering.
Pot plants have to be watered. It is a good idea to install a watering system for your pots, as well as for garden beds. However, keep in mind that any automatic or electronic system may fail and need to be repaired.
Water features need regular maintenance. Pumps need servicing, filters need to be cleaned and spouts and pipes may block. Consider avoiding these features.
For a practical, functional garden without too much work, choose paving over lawn and plant shrubs that don’t need to be pruned. Install a watering system for your pot plants as well as in the garden beds, and use a mulch to discourage weeds.