Thursday, January 12, 2017

Too Busy To Babysit Your Backyard? Here Are Some Low Maintenance Landscaping Ideas

Designing your landscape for low maintenance is a great alternative for those with too many demands, a low tolerance for yard work or for those who may have physical limitations.

Some landscapers actually want to spend time working in the yard tending plants, edging lawns, shaping shrubs and are always envisioning the next design or feature they'll add to their landscape.

There are times, however, where it is preferred keep those yard tasks to only those that are relaxing or allow us to dabble in the creative aspects we enjoy. Here are some considerations when planning a low maintenance landscape:

Consider Drought Tolerant Grass Seed

If you don't plan on going through the expense of laying sod and installing an irrigation system to maintain it, consider using drought tolerant grass seed. Grass from this type of seed will grow slowly - reducing your grass cutting to as little as once a month.

It requires minimal watering, does not need pesticides or chemicals to thrive and is environmentally friendly. Drought tolerant grass is a great option if you have pets in the yard and stays green through all four seasons unlike sod.

Grass Alternatives? Think Artificial Turf Installation

Watering your grass, depending on where you live, can be up to 70% of your monthly watering bill. Artificial Turf and its installation costs more than grass seed or sod upfront but saves in watering and maintenance on the back side.

What you get in maintenance savings over real grass or sod will have you recouping your investment in short order. It's an environmentally friendly, evergreen, low-maintenance grass alternative that meets ADA Wheelchair Accessibility Guidelines while being child and pet-friendly.

Long gone are the days of the cheap plastic grass mats ingrained into our heads. You'll be hard pressed to tell the difference between today's varieties of artificial turf and real grass.

Hardscaping Versus Living Plants

Hardscaping, as the name implies are the non-living or "hard" elements you would install in your landscape. Most people wouldn't consider paving their entire property and if they did, they wouldn't be looking for low maintenance ideas.

But adding a flagstone path, a concrete or paver patio, a wood deck, a retaining wall or seat wall are attractive options that require little maintenance when completed.

A good hardscape design can blend beautifully in the overall scheme with low maintenance plants, trees and shrub varieties. From an aesthetic perspective, adding hardscape elements to your yard or garden provide order to the overall landscape. It provides the lines or boundaries that your eyes follow. It will also provide a contrast to other elements of your yard as well as colors and hard textures that makes your yard stand out.

Mass Plantings or Sweeps

Mass plantings in landscape terms, refers to a body of consistent plantings, usually of unstructured shape and generally in a larger size. By grouping plants that are of similar color, texture and density with for example, two or three of the varieties blooming at the same time, the grouping can form a mass.

This mass provides not only an attractive statement but a low maintenance impact. This mass can be groupings or sweeps of flowers or grasses or different ground covers as shown in the video below. Smaller grouping can consist of up to 30 plants while large plant species may be grouped in series of 5 to 10. Massing of plants creates more flow and is easier on the eye.

Other Low Maintenance Options

  • Where you have a lot of foot traffic, instead of grass or sod, consider pavers, concrete, decorative rock or stepping stones as a walking surface.
  • If you decide to plant evergreen or other species of shrubs, know that shearing them into those "picture perfect" boxes or other shapes means regular trimming and a lot more work than letting them go natural.
  • Select plants that are adapted to your area and not prone to insects or disease that could spread to other plantings in your landscape.
  • You have a friend in mulch. Not only does it keep weeds at bay but it reduces your need for watering by retaining moisture and as it degrades over time, adds nutrients to the soil.
  • Adding an automatic irrigation system takes the work out of hand watering unless you prefer to drag a hose around. But, an efficient irrigation system requires a good design. Without proper system planning it can waste water and cost you money in head adjustments or replacements.
  • Container growing, while still requiring some maintenance to keep plants watered, it is a considerably scaled-down option to planting a full-fledged garden.
  • Rethink the water feature. Adding a pond is not only expensive but high maintenance. A smaller feature will require less maintenance and can look just as good.
  • Whack the weeds first. If you don't get rid of any weeds on your property before you start landscaping you are only heading for maintenance issues later.

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