August 11, 2009
How to Spend More Time on MySpace, Less Time on Your Place: Moving to a Low Maintenance Garden.
Dear Arboretum Plant Info, As my wife and I grow older we’ve found that spending the time out in the garden necessary just to keep things looking decent takes a lot out of us. Instead of spending time in our garden exhausting ourselves weeding, pruning, and cleaning up we’d rather spend it chatting with our grandchildren on the internet. What can we do to make our garden “low maintenance”? Signed, Facebook Grand-DadDear FBGD, I assume you can’t pry your grandkids off of their computers for an afternoon of gardening with grandpa at your place; so in lieu employing your loved ones as day laborers I would suggest the following:
Replace your lawn with a low water use groundcover.
Replace all 'out of scale' plants or plants that require pruning to make them look good with smaller scale plants that do not need pruning. This will prevent weeds and cut down on weeding. Ideally the mulch layer should be at least 3 inches thick.
Be sure to add new mulch at least every year. Note: This mulching routine might fail if you have a landscape of California natives. These plants are adversely affected by organic mulches because of the nitrogen formed when the mulch breaks down. California natives prefer inorganic mulches like gravel or decomposed granite.
Increase the amount of 'hardscaping' and unplanted areas in your landscape; fewer plants, less maintenance.
Mulch with shredded bark or other slow decaying organic materials.
Use low water use plants, they grow slower so they don't need as frequent pruning as higher water use plants.
Do not fertilize. Broadcast fertilization isn't necessary for even high water use landscapes. There are individual exceptions, though (fruit trees, roses, azaleas, etc.). Adding nitrogen to plants makes them grow faster, thus you have to prune more.
-Arboretum Plant Info