how to create a low maintenance garden

 How to Create a Low Maintenance Garden

Gardens are alive, growing with each passing year and begging more and more input from their owners. That hedge grows a little wider, your vegetable patch grows a little longer, and your trees a little taller. And so it goes that many homeowners start to feel that achieving, and more importantly, maintaining, a beautiful garden is an impossible feat within their limited time and budget.


But it doesn’t have to be that way. No garden can ever be a zero maintenance space, but it can be transformed into a low-maintenance space, giving you the freedom to focus on the areas that you find most enjoyable.


Here we’ll explore ideas to help you create a garden that doesn’t bust the bank or break your back.


lose the lawn


No other part of your garden needs to be watered, fed, and mowed as often as your lawn. So think about it – does it really need to be there? A well-kept lawn looks stunning, but more often than not maintaining one can prove to be too much work, leaving you with a patchy, tired area of green that could be used for so much more, with much less effort.


So what are the alternatives?


BarkEasy to lay, available in different sizes and colours, and a lot less hassle than a traditional lawn (they suppress unwanted weeds!), bark is a suitable alternative for most homes. What’s more, its soft surface makes it ideal for those with children.


To lay, it’s best to first create a border around your lawn. This should stop the bark from finding its way into other areas of your garden once it has been laid down. When the lawn has been removed, lay a plastic woven weed matting down and start laying your bark. As a rough guide, you will want around 50 litres of bark chippings every per meter squared for a 5cm depth.


How much maintenance?


You may want to top the bark up once every year or so as, even with a border, bark still manages to leak out.


Decorative gravelThe beauty of gravel is that it’s available in all shapes, sizes, and colours guaranteeing that you can find a style that will match your garden. Like bark, decorative gravel is easy to lay too. Replace the turf with a weed proof membrane (spend a little more here for quality, for added assurance of no weeds), and then create an edging, again to stop gravel from travelling into the garden and then lay. For an approximate 4cm depth, you’ll want roughly 80kg per meter squared.


How much maintenance?


Even with a border, you can expect some gravel to leak into your garden. Topping the gravel bed up once every year should suffice.


Paving – Paving over your lawn is one of the most functional ways to replace it. When done right, paving can offer a splash of colour in place of a solid green and gives you the opportunity to place seating where you can admire your beautiful flowerbeds.


With paving, you can also leave small spaces between some slabs giving you room to grow hardier plants. Just remember that they probably will be trodden on.


Laying paving can be a pretty labour intensive job so you may want to turn to a professional for this stint of work. If not, there are plenty of guides on the web.


How much maintenance?


Next to none! It’ll just need a good jet wash once every couple of months.


Decking – If you want to replace your lawn with something long lasting a treated hardwood decking is the ideal selection. What’s more, it makes for a wonderful space to host outside dinner parties and barbeques in the summer months. You can select a wood, stain, and style to suit pretty much any garden too.


How much maintenance?


Decking will require an annual clean to clear it of grease and discolouration and an occasional brushing to remove debris.


Artificial grass – We understand that any true gardener would call this sacrilege. But an artificial grass lawn requires no maintenance whatsoever from the gardener, freeing up time to focus on the areas of your garden that you love. Like your vegetable patch or your perennial bed.


You may want to hire a professional to help you lay artificial grass, but again there are plenty of guides on the web. If you are going to do it yourself, make sure the surface is clean and smooth which can be done with a levelling compound.


How much maintenance?


Almost zero. The only thing you’ll need to do is brush the lawn to keep it clean of fallen leaves or other debris from the surrounding garden.


low maintenance plants


Another area of the garden that requires constant upkeep is your plant life. No-maintenance plants don’t exist, but there are some out there that require a lot less work than others. Below you will find a rundown of just a few of our favourites.


Sedum – This plant is well known for its ability to grow back year after year and its colours will stick around well into spring. The flowers go from green buds, turning through pale pink to deep pink, and then finally adopting a brown hue.


Elijah Blue Fescue – This evergreen can withstand a variety of conditions making it a perfect choice for those looking to create a low maintenance garden. There are several types of the plant available including the large blue fescue which is a hardier selection than the regular blue fescue.


Coreopsis – This rugged plant has over 100 different species, but not all are perennials, so be sure to check before buying. Remember to remove seed heads in the winter months too; otherwise, you’ll have a gaggle of birds fighting over them.


Firewitch Dianthus – Described as ‘very hardy’ the Firewitch is well known for its magenta blooms from Spring through to Autumn. It’s a fast grower too if you’re looking to fill your flower bed out quickly. Plus, it can withstand longer periods of drought than most. Not to mention that butterflies love it!



weed control


In most instances, the bulk of garden work comes down to controlling weeds. If you are looking to create a border around your garden move away from perennials – they’ll need regular weed control and the work can become tiresome. Shrubs are the best alternative. They can be planted easily through a weed-suppressing membrane which can then be overlaid with gravel or bark. These beds won’t require regular watering either.


If you are looking for a potent weed killer that’s cheap consider some homemade alternatives:


Boiling water – Got a kettle? Then you have your very own weed killer. Boiling water can kill any growth it touches and is ideal for knocking out annual and perennial weeds.


Salt – When used with caution, salt is a great way to kill unwanted weeds. It will dehydrate the plant and disrupt the water balance of its cells. We only recommend using this on a small scale, however, where it can be easily diluted by rain.


Newspaper – If dousing your weeds in boiling water and salt isn’t your style, you can always cover them with newspaper. Lay the paper approximately 4 sheets thick. The lack of sun will kill the existing weeds, and wreak havoc with any seeds trying to sprout.


Bleach – Bleach isn’t just great for blitzing your bathroom and kitchen, it’s a potent weed killer too. Pour some into a spray bottle and attack any weeds you want to disappear.


go wild


If there are sections of your garden that you’re having trouble keeping up with or an area that you don’t visit often, consider letting it grow wild. Wild sections of a garden can give it another layer and offers a home to insects and wildlife. You may have to suppress the urge to have a little trim here and a cut back there – the point is to step back and let nature do its work.


what not to do


If you want to create a garden that requires very little work there are a few things you’ll want to avoid:


Tender plants – Keep away from plants that need a lot of upkeep. Tender plants will require winter wrapping, regular moving, and/or annual propagation.


Quick growing hedges – If you are looking to include hedges in your garden, select slower growers like yew or holly.


Add lots of containers – Containers ask a lot of you. They regularly need replanting, feeding, and moving. If you can’t do without some containers in your garden select larger ones that will hold more compost. They won’t dry out as quick.



Do you have any great tips for creating a low maintenance garden at home? Let us know in the comments below!