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5 things you can do in your garden to make it more easily maintainable

For those of us lucky enough to have one, gardens are there to be enjoyed. Gardening can be a perfect way to relax on a Sunday afternoon. It offers great exercise, an outlet for creativity, and enables you to join the home-grown revolution by starting a vegetable patch or growing your own fruits. Time, however, is precious. We can’t all afford to dedicate too much of it into turning our back yards into the Garden of Eden.

Here’re my 5 top tips for creating a low-maintenance garden that (almost) looks after itself:

1) Wipe out the weeds.

By Mariegriffiths at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
By Mariegriffiths at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
Gardening may seem like “Weeds, weeds, weeds…”, but there are things you can do to lighten your weeding load. First things first, remove all the weeds and stray grass from the areas you wish to start planting in. Ensure you remove the whole weeds, roots and all. There are plenty of tools available to make the job easier on your back, such as hoes and specially-designed tools for weeding.

You may choose to lay down a special anti-weed fabric or mesh underneath your topsoil which stops weeds pushing through, whilst retaining soil moisture and drainage. Placing mulch (which comes in a variety of natural materials) on top of the earth is also a proven technique for preventing weeds, plus it adds nutrients to the soil and looks great too.

With these measures in place, weeding will be an occasional task instead of a constant struggle.

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2) Get the right tools for the job.

There are literally hundreds of different types of gardening tools (have you seen the size of garden centres?), all specialised for specific jobs. Gardening CAN be done on your hands and knees with a trusty trowel but it might take its toll on the results, the time taken, and your health. By owning the correct tools you will save a lot of time in the maintenance of your garden. A good landscape gardener will always make sure that he/she has the most appropriate tools to work on the garden with utmost ease and efficiency.

Before heading off to the garden shop for a spending spree, first take a look at your garden and think about what tools you are going to need throughout the year. Research what’s available online and compare prices. Be warned: the cheapest tools are often prone to breaking and may hamper instead of helping you.

3) Plant in raised beds and containers.

Sprawling and unplanned gardens can be very difficult to maintain and may leave you reaching for the machete instead of the secateurs.

Planting in raised beds and containers not only looks attractive, it also makes those areas easier to maintain. Firstly, you achieve an environment that allows the plants to thrive on their own, secondly, weeds find it even harder to get in, and thirdly, they offer easier access to the plants, enabling you to tend to them without overstretching or causing yourself some other kind of mischief.

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4) Choose low-maintenance plants.

There are many types of plants which manage to still look beautiful whilst growing perfectly on their own. These are the top choice for gardeners with little time on their hands. Low-maintenance plant types include shrubs, conifers, grasses and perennials. You could always ask a local landscaping professional advice on which plants need little care and attention and choose the ones you like.

5) Don’t push yourself too hard.

Gardening should be a pleasure and something you look forward to, not a chore. Overexerting yourself with heavy duty work, or putting your back out from hours of hovering over flower beds, can not only damage your health, but also make your enthusiasm for gardening wain and make you more reluctant to pick up the trowel the next time your garden calls.

Instead, pace yourself and try not to take on all the big jobs at once. Also, remember to stay hydrated, take breaks, keep energy levels high by eating, and use suntan lotion on sunny days.

Caution: Following these gardening and landscaping tips may cause you to become green-fingered.