One of the greatest joys of my job is I get to see many gardens. I love to hear people’s stories about building their gardens, about acquiring that hard-to-find specimen, about the failures and successes. It’s such a great evolution.
A common theme among gardeners is that often they find the garden begins to take over and it becomes a source of guilt rather than joy. People stop by to take a look my gardens and compliment a certain area, and all I can see is the weedy overgrown patch in the corner or how some shrub has terribly outgrown its spot and I need to whack it back.
Gardens aren’t static; they change and grow – and grow and grow – and sometimes we end up with more garden than time. Gardens can be a lot of work.
If this is sounding familiar, don’t despair. There are many steps you can take to lighten the garden load and create a more low-maintenance landscape
The concept of a low-maintenance garden isn’t just about choosing the right plants. All plants are work, but if you can take time to plan wisely and to simplify your existing design, it can go a long way creating an easy-care landscape
Firstly – this is hard for you plant geeks out there – don’t plant one of each type of cool plant, rather, plant in broad swaths or groups.
Every well meaning gardener succumbs to this problem at some point because it’s hard to resist the temptation of buying one of a kind plant to add to your collection.
Buying one of each type of plant or shrub starts to make the garden look like a patchwork quilt and not cohesive.
Massed planting is more soothing to the eye and work betters with the scale of a house. When you look at a swath of the same species, it looks calm and lush rather than disjointed. But group planting is more than just good looks; it is also smart science
Plants are allelopathic; they may look beautiful and flowery above the ground but their roots systems are in war with other plants nearby.
Author Nikki Phipps tells us, “Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon where one plant inhibits the growth of another.” It’s basically plants suppressing other plants. Planting en masse helps to counter this problem and helps plants compete with neighbouring species.
When you plant a large group of the same plant or shrub, you can treat the plants as one and cut down on maintenance. Case in point: If you plant a large swath of ornamental grass and it needs pruning once a year, it is much easier to get out the weed-whacker and cut back the entire swath of grasses.
Think of the energy it takes to carefully prune one ornamental grass at a time with your hand pruners while trying to keep the neighbouring plants from getting in the way of your pruning.
Incorporating similar large groups of planting into your residential landscape is an easy technique to cut back on maintenance and will be sure to garner compliments from your neighbours.
Give it a try.