Authored by Douglas Mefford in Landscaping
Published on 12-10-2009
A nicely landscaped yard or garden may make your home look splendid but can cause you to spend many hours a week maintaining it. If you do not enjoy spending all your free time working on the upkeep of your yard, there are a number of steps for creating a low maintenance landscape you can still be proud of.
While a grass filled lawn is an American institution, it does require a lot of time watering, fertilizing, and above all, mowing to keep it looking good. Regular lawn grasses are also susceptible to drought and can develop huge “die-out” spots that need to be reworked and replaced. There are quite a few low maintenance ways to cut down on the vast amounts of grass without losing the beauty of your lawn.
Extending or installing a patio or deck will reduce the grassy part of your yard. Evergreen shrubbery not only looks good around the house but is also very self-maintaining. Mulching around the shrubbery areas will also feed the growth and cut down on weed growth around the edges. An area of rock garden can add a touch of class while eliminating more labor-intensive grass.
An increasingly popular method for low maintenance landscaping is to replace large areas of lawn grass with moss or clover. Clover does not generally grow very high. It is drought and insect resistant and stays green all season. Clover is also very competitive and will choke out many weeds that can overcome regular lawn grass. Mosses like sphagnum and rock-cap work well in shady parts of your yard. Mosses of this type generally give good ground cover and present a more uniform “carpeting” effect. By taking their nourishment from the air instead of the ground, mosses can live in much drier conditions. It also grows best in acidic and compacted soils, just the type of soil that does not grow lawn grass well.
If you are thinking of using trees to help give shade for a mossy area, remember to avoid certain types of trees that create lots of work. Fruit and nut trees mean having to remove the harvest from your lawn. Most deciduous trees drop their leaves in the fall and will require raking to keep your lawn clean. Evergreens provide not only a good shade and a windbreak for your home but the eventual carpet of needles will, once more, provide their own ground cover, which does not need maintenance.
Installing an automatic irrigation system in your yard will provide the needed moisture for healthy growth while not requiring you to take time away from your leisure to drag the hose out and spray it down. A targeted irrigation system is better at putting the water near the roots where it is needed. Hosing or using a sprinkler system wastes a lot of water by pouring a lot of extra water on leaf surfaces. With an irrigation system to conserve much of this excess water you will soon save money as well as have a more efficiently watered lawn.
The growing art of xeriscape landscaping helps create low maintenance yards through the grouping of similar types of plants with similar light and water needs. It has been developed for drought prone areas and those where water is at a premium. Xeriscaping is designed to work with your specific geographical area. The plants and positioning of a xeriscape yard or garden in the southwest will be very different from one in the northeast yet both will be designed for low maintenance beauty and viability.
It may take a bit of work initially to convert a labor-intensive yard into a low maintenance showcase. Once you are done, however, you will have much more time to enjoy your living space rather than work in it.