The ideal garden set up for low maintenance gardeners

We all aspire to have the perfect garden but sometimes life gets in the way. Gardening can be time-consuming and sometimes there are just more important things to do. We all want a garden that we can enjoy and not one that just becomes another chore around the house.

It’s for this reason that often a more low maintenance approach can be the best solution. By stripping back the finer details in the garden, you can strike a better balance between an amazing looking garden and one you don’t have to spend every free moment on.

Rules for low maintenance gardens

  • Keep it simple
A garden with an irregular shape is always going to pose more problems than you will want to deal with. This is why if you want to create the perfect low maintenance lawn you should keep your garden simple with a standard rectangular shape. Not only will this be much easier to cut, if you keep on top of the edges, it will also look much smarter throughout the year. This should be one of the first points on your to do list to set up a low maintenance garden.

  • Less work equals fewer plants

It’s possible that if you have your heart set on a low maintenance garden you won’t have time for plants. Plants and vegetables require care to grow to their fullest potential and it may be time you just simply don’t have. If you do want to grow your own plants you will need to understand the work that will be required beforehand and, specifically, the type of care they need.

  • Avoid some hedge types

You need to completely do away with the intricate topiary; you won’t have time to constantly maintain a formal hedge. Fast growing hedge plants can be very labour intensive and can take up a lot of your time. As a result, you should look to swap them out for much more low maintenance hedge species such as yew or holly.

  • Get rid of containers and pots

Having lots of planters and pots will only take more time to manage, as they will need replanting every so often. If you do want some planters to decorate your patio area, you should try to set up an irrigation system so they don’t dry out as often.

Get the planning right

Just because you don’t have to spend that much time on your garden doesn’t mean that your garden should be boring and generic. Even low maintenance gardens can have that ‘wow’ factor we all want. The trick will be in the planning beforehand.

To design the ideal low maintenance garden you need to first iron out how much time you will realistically spend in your garden. You may be able to cut the grass once or twice a week but watering the plants or growing your own vegetables may be a step too far. A low maintenance garden will more often than not look less impressive than a garden that is looked after daily, so it is also important to temper your expectations. That doesn't mean you will always need to compromise for second best!

Understanding your own limitations and expectations will then help you to plan your garden layout. If you are going to have lots of labour intensive jobs in your garden, you should try to position them near to your house so you don't have to trek across your garden often with heavy machinery or equipment. If you are going to grow your own vegetables or plants you will be grateful for a water point nearby so you can minimise the effort with watering. While this may take time to set up, the time you save in the long term will be huge.

Get the tech

In 2018 there seems to be a tech solution for almost everything. High-tech gizmos can be off-putting, especially if they have high price points, but it is often worth taking the plunge as the time and effort you’ll save will be worth its weight in gold – can you really put a price on that?

  • Robotic lawn mower

For the truly low maintenance gardener, the first port of call has to be the robot lawn mower. The garden will be so low maintenance that you don’t even need to cut the grass - your lawn mower will do the job for you, meaning you can get on with the more important things in life. All you need to do is install the boundary cable around the perimeter of your garden, plug in the charging station and away you go. Flymo’s 1200R robotic mower also comes equipped with many security features to protect the lawn mower should your neighbours get too jealous. It has a lift sensor and pin code that is unique to your docking station.

  • Plant sensors

Plant sensors can be used for low maintenance and demanding gardens alike and can be a really effective time saver. They sit in your soil as you are growing your plants and can measure the conditions relaying the data to your smartphone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They can track sunlight, soil temperature, moisture and even fertiliser levels. This variety of information can be incredibly helpful to the low maintenance garden as it means you will only need to water the plants when the data says you need to, rather than spending extra time when it isn’t necessary.

  • Choose the right plants

As mentioned above, if you are not able to spend much time gardening, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to care for many plants. You would only be neglecting them from the care they need and your garden would then be full of lots of dead plants.

If you do have your heart set on having a colourful flower-filled garden however, some are easier to care for than others. Herbs especially are extremely low maintenance and you can enjoy eating the fruits of your labours (however small).

  • Irrigation systems

If you really want to dial up the laziness, you can install an irrigation system to water your plants for you. While it will take a fair amount of time to set up, you’ll be very grateful for it later on. There are a number of different options that cater to different budgets. You can even hook it up to a water butt that catches the rainfall so you don’t even need to pay for the water.

The more expensive irrigation systems can link with your plant sensors so you don’t need to water your plants. The smart garden systems will use the sensors to deliver the water to the plants only when required, with the really high tech ones even accounting for rainfall. You’ll be very grateful to cross this task off your to do list.

Get your lawn ready

More often than not your lawn will be the easiest thing to look after because all you will need to do is make sure it gets enough water and then cut it at the right time. With a robotic mower you don’t even need to do that last point. Usually lawns are very tough and can therefore get by with minimal work. Despite this, there are some quick hints and tips that can help to cut down maintenance even further:

  • Don't collect your clippings

Most lawn mowers nowadays are set up so that they collect the clippings into a collection box. The only downside with this however is that the box needs to be emptied when it is full. For larger gardens this means you will have to do multiple trips between your lawn mower and the compost heap. Instead, why not leave the grass clippings on the lawn? It may not look as neat and tidy but it will save you a lot of time in the long run and it will also help your lawn overall. The nutrients from the cut grass will feed back into the soil as the clippings breakdown which means your lawn has a better long-term health. Just don’t let your children or dogs play too vigorously on the grass if you don’t pick up the clippings - they’ll only traipse them into the house, meaning your low maintenance garden will lead to a high maintenance house!

  • Get the right gear

Choosing the right lawn mower can be crucial to saving yourself time in the garden. While we have mentioned the robotic mower above, there are lots of other types of machines that can help save you time, money and effort. If you want to make as little work from your lawn mowing as possible, you should go for a machine that has a wide cutting deck. A wider cutting deck means it can cut more grass in one pass, saving you time.

  • Turf wars

While this may be sacrilege to the keen gardener, there is a case to be made for artificial turf. Modern artificial grass can look very close to the real thing without having to maintain it. The general consensus is that it will never look as good as the real thing however it will always look smart no matter the time of year. You then won’t have to spend time mowing or watering so you can get on with other important things.