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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!

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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