Establishing Low Maintenance Gardens

As most landlords are only too aware, garden surfaces – lawns, patios, drives, paths and paving – can be very time consuming to look after. One response by owners/agents to this problem has been for them to concrete over the entire surface area, which although timesaving often means that the exterior of the property becomes less attractive.

Yet it is possible to keep the time spent looking after garden surfaces to a minimum - without resorting to such drastic tactics - by taking the following measures:

  • Minimise the area given over to open flower beds, particularly beds with flowers that require regular replanting. Hardy annuals, such as poppies, cornflowers and pot marigolds, will develop self-sustaining colonies which appear year after year (you just need to keep an eye out for the weeds);
  • Look after the soil. If the soil is never trodden on it will not need to be dug, so design borders or build pathways to ensure there is no need tread on the soil. Stepping stones can be laid across the borders to improve access, 18 inch square slabs are ideal;
  • Grow plants in containers - best if grouped for easy watering;
  • Make use of one or more of paving, gravel or decking instead of grass/soil. The advantages of these surfaces are:
  • Paving – easy to maintain if grouted or pointed with cement. Allowing a small number of plants to grow between the stones will help reduce the appearance of the slabs. Any unwelcome weeds that grow could be controlled with use of a weed killer;
  • Gravel - a good material for driveways or paths, but is prone to weed growth. Laying a woven polypropylene landscaping material over the surface before the gravel is spread will create a weed proof barrier, as well as allow rainwater to drain away. It is also possible to plant trees or shrubs through the membrane;
  • Decking – looks softer and less unfriendly than either stone or concrete, and can be used to raise the level of the ground. For long lasting decking it is advisable to use high quality, pressure treated timber.

There are also a number of other useful tips to follow which will reduce the amount of time that is required to be spent on garden surfaces. These include:

  • Doing without a lawn – This will save time as there is nothing to mow; an alternative would be to reduce the grass area as much as possible.
  • Plant beds with ground-cover shrubs – This will avoid the need for weeding. It is best to choose plants that grow well together and to select plants that grow in each of the four seasons.
  • Plant slow-growing plants – This will mean they don’t need to be cut back so often.
  • Before planting anything, clear perennial weeds – These should be dug out, or you could apply a weedkiller.
  • Prepare the soil – Begin with lots of organic matter, this will help plants grow twice as fast and will require less looking after.
  • If you have a pond be careful where it is situated – Ponds should be sited away from any deciduous trees, otherwise they will require regular attention to remove the leaves.
  • Increase the number of drought-resistant plants in the garden – Good examples of these would be holly and pine trees and shrubs such as rosemary and lavender.

There are a number of websites about low maintenance gardens. Please notes the examples below are NOT RECOMMENDATIONS they are only meant to be helpful examples: 
The Telegraph - low maintenance gardens
Create a gravel garden