I'm a yard and garden nut, and there's nothing I love more
than digging in the dirt. But I'm also very busy, so I need my yard and garden
to thrive without a lot of watering, weeding and fertilizing. If you want a
beautiful yard without a lot of fuss, here are six low-maintenance landscaping
tips that will keep your yard looking great with minimal effort.
Replace some of your turf with ground covers
Many ground cover sedums are deer- and
drought-proof and thrive in both sunny and shady soil. Pictured are Sedum rupestre "Angelina" and Sedum spurium "Dragon's Blood."
A lot of folks love their lawns, but frankly, a good-looking
lawn requires a lot of care. If you replace some of your grass with an
appropriate ground cover, you'll slash your chore time without sacrificing a
lovely yard. Consider replacing the turf in problem spots such as shady, hot or
rocky areas with a ground cover that thrives under those conditions. Check with
your local extension service for a list of appropriate ground covers.
2. Use drought-tolerant plants
Drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, a Nearly Wild rose and Saponaria (soapwort) thrive without additional watering in my Zone 4 garden.
Watering restrictions are a reality in
many areas, and it makes sense to reduce watering chores whenever possible. Choose
plants, trees and shrubs that require less water to thrive. There are many
beautiful options that will work in a variety of soils and climates. The key is
to carefully match the plant to its site and to water it carefully for the
first year or two. Once it establishes a good root system, it will mature with
3. Select carefree shrubs and trees
A dwarf globe spruce, upright juniper, barberry and smaller blooming ninebark (choose Seward "Summer Wine" or "Little Devil") play nicely together each year with minimal pruning.
Plant shrubs and trees that won't require a lot of
your attention as they grow. There are many new plants specifically bred for their
smaller stature as well as disease and pest resistance. Dwarf conifers, smaller
shrubs and yard trees that reach 10 to 15 ft. at maturity mean reduced pruning
chores and less chance that you'll have to remove them when they outgrow their sites or become diseased.
4. Hardscape with permeable materials
Inexpensive patio pavers set in a grid and surrounded by trap rock make an elegant, simple and environmentally friendly courtyard.
Patios, walkways, courtyards and
other hardscape elements add a bit of magic to any yard and reduce landscaping
chores. Choose materials and designs that allow rainwater to permeate the soil
to irrigate plantings, minimize erosion and prevent runoff. These include
organic mulches, gravel, stone and permeable pavers.
heavily, turn soil rarely and plant densely to minimize weeding
Keep weeding chores to a minimum by mulching heavily
with compost and shredded bark. Plant things close together to shade out weeds,
and avoid turning the soil, which exposes dormant weed seeds to sunlight. Instead,
let the earthworms from your compost do the cultivating for you.
I love roses, but most require a lot of water,
fertilizer and pesticides to look their best. I'm not saying you should give up
everything you love, but choose your plantings carefully. If the majority of
your landscape is relatively carefree, you'll have more time to keep your
finicky plants looking their best.
— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor