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Working Towards a Low-Maintenance Landscape

Trees and shrubs form the backbone of low-maintenance landscapes. Photo:

As you plan your home landscape, it’s worth noting that not all plants are created equal when it comes to maintenance. Some require very little care and others need a lot of effort.

On the top of the “low maintenance scale” are woody plants (trees, shrubs and conifers). As long as you choose varieties adapted to your conditions, they require very little care and can, in fact, grow pretty much on their own. Of course, that’s presuming that you don’t decide to make your life difficult by pruning them into geometric shapes or using them in a pruned hedge.

In the middle, you’ll find perennials and grasses. They require a moderate amount of upkeep: not weekly, but certainly several times a season.

On bottom of the scale are lawns and annuals. These high maintenance plants are needy creatures, often requiring weekly care, and will really keep you on your toes.

So for a “acceptable” low-maintenance landscape (one which won’t shock your neighbors), try beds of shrubs and dwarf conifers dotted here and there with trees and full-size conifers . You can edge these beds with a thin strip of perennials and grasses, plopping in a few higher maintenance annuals here and there to ensure a minimum of color at all times.

Make these low-care beds as wide as possible to reduce the amount of heavy-on-the-upkeep lawn and you’ll be surprised by how little maintenance your home landscape really needs!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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