From curb appeal up front to a little piece of heaven out back, gardening pays off in pleasures aplenty — resale value among them. Of course, to maximize enjoyment, you’ll want to minimize the hours of effort spent on lawn and plant care. The strategies here will cut down on toil time and may just spare you some aches, pains and frustrations in the process. Less work, more loll — and truly lovely results.
Pick the right plants
While considering varieties in sync with your USDA hardiness zone, also research disease-resistant, hardy species. For lush flowers with little maintenance, choose annuals that keep on blooming without need for constant deadheading (think: lobelia, impatiens, and fibrous begonias).
And do beware of volunteers: Some annuals like calendulas and cleome reseed themselves if you don’t remove spent blooms in the fall. If you want them next season, let them self-sow; if not, deadhead conscientiously to prevent these “fertile myrtles” from taking over your garden.
Design your space to group the thirstier, more high-maintenance plant varieties in one spot, so you won’t be running all over the place tending to them. Once you’ve sorted out the neediest, tend to the rest.
Put stiff, bulkier plants in front of tall, delicate ones to prop up the floppier species — you’ll save yourself an hour of staking.
Then, make your lawn work just as light. Save yourself an uphill battle by eschewing grass in favor of no-mow groundcover on sloped areas. Also skip turf grass in areas of poor drainage.
Equally important to consider when you establish the lay of the land out back is where to place the tool storage. Rather than trek to the shed or garage every time you need a trimmer or spade, keep frequently used garden tools close by, perhaps in a decorative container that suits your garden’s vibe.
And buy tools with brightly colored handles that will easily catch your eye if you mislay them.
Consider installing a timed system so you won’t have to water manually. Soaker hoses, with tiny pores running the length of the tube, are smarter than traditional hoses and sprinklers. There’s no run-off, less evaporation, and you can leave them on while you work elsewhere (or just chill out). For best results, set it for early in the morning, before the sun can zap moisture.
To make your job easier while also conserving a little bit of water, skip cleanup on the days you mow the lawn. Leaving the clippings out rather than gathering them up will shade the grass, preserving precious H2O.
Why get snagged by semantics? Call an unexpected crop of greens in your flowerbed “indigenous plants,” and let them grow. If you simply can’t, plant densely and mulch freely around flowerbeds to discourage unwanted greenery.
When it comes time to weed, take steps to minimize the time required. Wage war when the soil is moist or, rather than attempt to pull weeds out by the roots, simply cut them down and then let them wither in the sun.
If weeds rear their ugly heads en masse to form a mat, use a sharp shovel to slice into the ground beneath them, and then turn them over, completely burying the leaves. This not only frees your flowers, but the decomposing weeds will nourish the soil.
See more inspiring landscape design ideas.
- Flower Gardening for Beginners
- Choosing the Best Annuals for Your Garden
- Deck Out Your Patio for Summer