If you want a beautiful garden but don't have the time or inclination to spend hours maintaining it, there are many shortcuts you can incorporate into your design. From edging your lawn to using low-maintenance materials for your fencing and paving, there are many ways to make your garden more manageable.
Let's start with the lawn. If you want to keep your lawn looking tidy but don't want to spend hours edging it, consider using cobble setts or blocks to edge it. This will allow you to mow straight over the top, keeping the shape of your lawn intact and eliminating the need to edge it with a spade. Additionally, using cobble setts or block paving as an edging can be an attractive feature in its own right.
If you prefer a more low-key edging option, consider using a product like Smartedge. This product retains the edge of your lawn without being too visible, making it easy to mow over. Rope top sections and log roll edging can also be used to retain planting beds and create a defined finish, but they don't offer the same time-saving benefits as cobble setts or Smartedge.
If you want the look of a lawn without the maintenance, consider replacing it with artificial turf. High-quality artificial turf, such as Luxigraze or Smartgrass, is UV stable and won't deteriorate in sunlight. Softer, long pile varieties with multi-colour and texture strands are very realistic and look good all year round. Alternatively, if you're willing to forego a lawn altogether, be creative with your garden design by incorporating beds and seating areas in different areas of the garden to create interest.
If planting beds are a struggle, consider replacing some with raised planting beds, as these are easier to reach. Railway sleepers can be used to create an instant raised bed that can be laid flat or on end and staggered heights. However, there are other options to consider as well. You could use natural stone walling to create raised beds, which looks good even when laid as a dry-stone wall. For a more modern look, build a low wall using concrete blocks and then clad it with wall cladding feature panels or use Flexstone, a flexible stone veneer that can be adhered to the surface. A mix of raised and ground-level beds can create the most interest.
Instead of using wooden fence panels or decking boards that require periodic treatment to prevent them from rotting, consider using composite fencing or decking instead. This wood effect alternative is made from real wood grains mixed with a resin substance that coats and protects the wood from deteriorating over time. Once installed, this is a very low-maintenance alternative to traditional wooden features. Another option is to use metal corten steel panels. Grouped together or as a standalone feature in a seating area, these panels require next to no maintenance and look stunning!
In terms of paving, some types require more maintenance than others. Light-coloured sandstone, especially when installed in a shady area, will require more cleaning than a darker shade. This is because it is slightly more porous than darker shades and holds more moisture, leading to more algae growth. Porcelain paving, especially in slightly darker shades, often requires very little maintenance other than general cleaning to remove surface residue. Lighter shades may temporarily stain from tannins in leaves, so be sure to sweep these away. On balance, porcelain is a lower-maintenance product than other stone types.
Use a soaker hose watering system within your beds accompanied with a timer to manage the watering for you during hot weather. This is far less wasteful than a traditional hosepipe and ensures the water gets to the roots of the plants. Additionally, consider planting drought-tolerant species where possible. Many of these are silver-leaved plants, so plan your garden.
In addition to the tips mentioned above, incorporating low-maintenance plants into your garden design can also save you time and effort. Native plants, succulents, and drought-resistant species are great options that require less watering and upkeep. Consider using mulch around your plants to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth, further reducing the amount of time and effort needed to maintain your garden.
Another way to reduce garden maintenance is to opt for perennial plants instead of annuals. Perennials come back year after year, reducing the need to replant every season. They also tend to require less water and attention than annuals.
Finally, it's important to remember that a low-maintenance garden doesn't have to sacrifice style or beauty. By incorporating interesting features such as sculpture, water features, or ornamental grasses, you can create a garden that is both easy to care for and visually stunning.
In conclusion, there are many shortcuts you can incorporate into your garden design to reduce maintenance and make gardening more manageable. From using mow-over lawn edging to choosing low-maintenance plants and incorporating interesting features, there are plenty of ways to create a beautiful and easy-to-care-for garden. By taking these tips into consideration, you can spend less time working in your garden and more time enjoying it.