Low maintenance gardens have become a big trend in the landscape industry in the past few years as gardeners have had to limit the amount of water, time, and effort they’ve put into their landscapes. We’ll talk about some of our favorite ways to create a truly low maintenance landscape and how it can not only provide you with less garden chores, but also help out local pollinators and wildlife at the same time.
One of our favorite low maintenance landscape practices is the idea of community plantings. A philosophy made popular by Claudia West, the idea of community plantings is that you completely fill your garden with layers of different types of plants (groundcovers, foliage, shrubs) so that your soil surface is completely covered with plant materials. The plants act as living mulch in your garden to help suppress weed growth, which means you won’t need to buy and spread mulch each season. Also, by planting varieties that compliment each other and grow/bloom at different times, you’re creating a wild-like planting that requires little upkeep and maintenance.
Community plantings are a fantastic approach to low maintenance landscape design but do take time, expertise, and a good amount of perennial plant material. An easy way to create a community planting without the fuss is by planting wildflowers. Native wildflower meadows are nature’s community plantings and thrive with little to no maintenance in their natural habitat. You can plant native wildflower seeds such as Milkweed, Coreopsis, Joe Pye Weed, Black Eyed Susan, Lupine, and Liatris to help create your own low maintenance meadow that will also help local pollinators and wildlife. All of these native perennial seeds should be planted in the fall after there has been a killing frost to mimic how nature self-seeds at that time of year.
Less Lawn, More Habitat
Lawns are a staple of the American landscape and definitely serve an important purpose for most families, but to create a lower maintenance landscape, consider reducing the size of your lawn and creating habitat instead. This doesn’t have to be as radical as it sounds! If you have a large lawn that requires regular upkeep (mowing, watering, re-seeding), try reducing that amount little by little each season. Replace a small part of your high maintenance lawn with low maintenance perennials or wildflowers and that is one part of your landscape that you really only need to touch a few times per season. Bonus: replacing your turf lawn with native or pollinator-favorite plants will help both local and migrating pollinators. Win, win!
Brake the Rules
Although having a low maintenance garden is important to many gardeners, you also want to make sure your landscape makes you happy! Selecting a handful of favorites, even if they are not natives, is permissible! A well-placed group of Peonies among your native community plantings is a great choice if it’s one of your favorite early season blooms. Balance is one of the most important aspects of any successful landscape and incorporating even just some of our low-maintenance ideas into your garden will go a long way.