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Drought tolerant plants

Designing a low maintenance garden

We'd all like a garden as perfect as those at the Chelsea Flower Show or at stately homes across the country, but the reality is these are often maintained by a team of full-time gardeners! Most of us would struggle to maintain such a garden, but there are a number of design tips and plants which will help you get close to these designs, whilst being easy to maintain. Read on for some easy low maintenance garden ideas.

Top tips

Lawns

A perfect lawn takes a fair amount of annual maintenance. For a low maintenance garden try replacing your lawn with gravel, paving or decking, all of which will offset your plants just as effectively. If you really would like to keep your lawn then try reducing the size or simplifying the shape for easier mowing.

Design

Keep the shape of your borders simple - curves are harder to mow and trickier to pave to the edges of.

Reduce the amount of hanging baskets and containers you have and group them together to make watering quicker. Smaller containers dry out faster and will require more watering so try using fewer large containers.

Don't leave the ground bare! Putting in plants or gravel is better than leaving the soil bare where weeds will accumulate and need pulling.

Hedges need clipping at least once a year and are high maintenance in comparison to a wall or fence. To soften the effect of a wall or fence there are a few low-maintenance climbing plants you can grow against them (see table below).

Watering and feeding

Try installing an irrigation system to save you hours of watering by hand! For more water saving tips for your garden click here. The easiest way to feed your plants is to use a slow-release fertiliser which will last for the whole season. These are either incorporated into the compost before planting containers, or sprinkled around the base of plants growing in the border. This is only necessary if your soil is poor.

Plants

Roses and herbaceous perennials are prime examples of high-maintenance plants! They need annual pruning, staking and dead-heading to perform well. On the other hand trees are the ultimate low-maintenance plant, although make sure you choose one that suits the size of your garden. See the table below for examples of other low-maintenance garden plants:

Shrubs Conifers Grasses Perennials Bulbs Climbers
Mahonia Cryptomeria japonica Miscanthus sinensis Bergenia Snowdrops Passiflora caerulea
Heather Thuja occidentalis Stipa tenuissima Dianthus Crocus Clematis montana
Potentilla fruticosa Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica 'Compacta' Festuca glauca Chives Cyclamen Hydrangea
Viburnum davidii Juniper (Juniperus communis) Carex elata 'Aurea' Sage Muscari Jasmine
Berberis Pinus mugo Carex flagellifera Geranium (Cranesbill) Allium Pyracantha
Magnolia   Anemanthele lessoniana Verbascum Winter Aconite Ivy (Hedera)
Azalea     Primrose Iris  
Hyssopus     Helianthemum    
Eleagnus     Kniphofia    
Cistus     Delosperma    
Euonymus     Rheum (Rhubarb)    
Pieris     Sedum    
Lavender     Osteospermum    
Daphne     Campanula carpatica    
      Heuchera  

All new gardens will be high maintenance in their first few years but with careful watering and weeding they will soon establish and become easy, low maintenance spaces.

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Low maintenance garden

For a low maintenance garden try replacing your lawn with gravel, paving or decking.

Low maintenance containers

Larger containers retain water for longer - group them together to make watering quicker.

snowdrops

Some bulbous plants such as Snowdrops will look after themselves!