Agdex No. 271.17
The landscape around the home is part of the home's living space and therefore should reflect the lifestyle of the homeowners. Many people want an attractive yard but do not have the time or interest to maintain a complicated landscape. Yet no yard or garden can look its best without some time and attention. The following suggestions help the homeowner develop a landscape that requires minimum maintenance.
SELECT APPROPRIATE PLANTS
Time spent in selecting the appropriate plants for the home landscape is time saved in the future. Shrubs that are the suitable size for the planting space will not require excessive pruning to keep them in shape. If plants are carefully chosen, it avoids replacing or moving trees that have grown too close to the house, or too tall, etc.
Select trees and shrubs that maintain their natural shape with little pruning. Use informal hedges that require pruning only once a season. Purchase high quality, healthy, disease resistant plant stock as this will reduce the need for spray programs etc. to protect the plants.
Choose "Clean" trees; avoid trees that are always dropping pods, fruit, twigs, or leaves. These trees will always require extra cleanup throughout the season. Fruit trees often require spraying and pruning on a regular basis to develop good fruit and this may be a lot of extra work.
GROUNDCOVERS AND MULCHES
Groundcovers and mulches reduce maintenance, conserve moisture, and control weeds when used correctly. These materials cannot replace turf grass completely but they provide an easy care option for some areas.
Groundcovers are especially useful in areas where it is difficult to grow grass (e.g. deep shade) or difficult to mow (eg. steep slopes). Groundcovers can be chosen for attractive foliage, flowers, fruit and fall colour.
Bark chips and crushed stone are widely used in planting beds to prevent weed growth and provide an attractive surface. If stone or crushed rock is used make sure it is kept in the bed to avoid hazards with the lawn mower.
A mulched area around the base of a tree protects the trunk and any roots near the surface of the soil. The mulched area keeps the grass and weeds down and minimizes the possible damage from lawn mowers and trimming machines.
One of the major benefits of mulching is weed reduction. Black plastic mulch is used but it tends to break down and it blocks the passage of water and nutrients to the soil. Synthetic landscape fabrics are very effective and do not break down as quickly as plastics. These fabrics hold the soil and prevent most weeds from developing while allowing gases, water and nutrients into the soil.
CONCENTRATE FLOWER DISPLAYS
To reduce maintenance plant fewer, smaller flower beds that can be admired from indoors or the patio area. Choose the plants carefully to provide maximum colour and display Plan the beds using straight lines or gentle curves as these shapes are easier to mow around. Consider using attractive containers for planting flowers and vegetables. They provide lots of colour with a minimum area for weeds to invade. The only concern is that containers require more frequent watering than beds.
OUTLINE THE PLANTING BEDS
Outlining the planting bed is a lot of work initially but reduces maintenance in the long term. It keeps the beds very neat and prevents grass from invading the beds. Vinyl and rubber materials are flexible and will curve with the shape of the rounded bed. Wood, metal, concrete, and brick 15-20cm wide make an attractive edging for plantings.
Edging materials should be placed flush with the ground so as not to interfere with mowing and deep enough to stop the grass rhizomes from invading the beds.
PLAN A COHESIVE LANDSCAPE
Plan the placement of trees, shrubs, beds and lawn for a unified appearance. Planting groups of trees and shrubs often gives a better effect than planting a single specimen. This also leaves larger areas of the lawn unobstructed making mowing easier.
CREATE OUTDOOR LIVING AREAS
A large patio or deck makes outdoor living more enjoyable and comfortable. Although the initial cost is high, a patio or deck is a long term investment in outdoor enjoyment. Surface the patio or deck with easy care material that does not require a lot of yearly maintenance.
Reduce the work around the children's play area and utility area by surfacing them with sand or gravel. These materials will stand up to heavy traffic and require little maintenance.