Even if you do not want to spend your free time mowing, pruning, weeding and watering, you can create a beautiful garden, big or small. The only thing essential is to devote some thought, a budget and start-up care, then your garden will be able to live your life with minimal interventions on your part.
Here’s how to create a maintenance-free garden , or almost.
1. Remove the constraints
Remove the lawn
It is perfectly possible to design a garden without lawn. Replace it with ground cover plants: in the shade or in full sun, there are still perennials that, once installed, require almost no maintenance: sedums, chamomile dwarf, aegopodium podagraria and pachysandra sp, ivy …
Note: these lawns do not generally trample. To walk, intersect them with non-vegetated spaces: paved alleys or graveled, slate plates arranged in checkerboard.
Avoid the size
- In the maintenance-free garden, flee conifer hedgerows and replace them with hedgerows (or hedgerows), which have only sporadic size needs.
- Renounce the classic rose bushes and adopt some roses without size and without worries (see next step).
Reduce or even eliminate watering
Take inspiration from dry gardens that, beyond the first year, do not require any watering.
Note: reducing or eliminating watering, you kill two birds with one stone, because cryptogamic diseases are rare in gardens with little or no water, which makes the treatments useless.
To avoid weeding the garden, do not leave bare soil:
- Plant relatively tight.
- Plant small perennials (ground covers) between your higher plantations (shrubs, grasses, tall perennials).
- When starting your plantations, when the ground cover does not fulfill their task yet, straw freely all free space between plantations.
- To avoid weeding paved or gravelled paths and terraces, take care of their design: place them under geotextile felts that prevent weeds growing.
2. Make an overall plan of the garden
To prevent your maintenance-free garden from becoming an impractical jungle, it is more important than any other garden to make an overall plan and structure the space.
Ornamental trees are masterpieces of the maintenance-free garden. They structure the space and, once they have started well, they require almost no care.
Treated in grove, a corner of your garden will live its life without intervention on your part. A coniferous grove, in particular, has the advantage of leaving a perfectly clean soil.
Create non-vegetated surfaces
In the absence of a lawn, it is particularly pleasant to have:
- Well established pathways: paved, graveled, etc.
- Terraces to take meals, settle down to read, etc. : plan in a classic way one or more terraces adjoining the house, but also flat areas (paved or graveled terraces …) elsewhere in the garden, especially if it is large.
- Proper drainage to run out the rainfall and don’t forget to use drain cleaners.
Focus on mass effects with minute details
Focus on mass effects on isolated subjects and carefully composed flower beds. For example, plan:
- a grove of trees;
- clumps of shrubs or large grasses;
- one or “lawns” consisting of a uniform groundcover;
- here and there large colored spots each composed of a single species of long-flowering perennial …
3. Select easy-to-live plants
For a maintenance-free garden, select only trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials adapted to your climate, but also to the nature of the soil : analyze your soil and choose plants that appreciate it, by consulting your nurseryman.
The shrubs, flowered preferences, are the kings of the garden without maintenance. Once properly started, they do not require any care, except a slight annual size, many of which can also happen.
Here is a selection of easy shrubs:
- Spring-flowering shrubs: forsythia, lilac, syringat, viburnum, Mexican orange, spirea, weigelia.
- Summer-flowering shrubs are very resistant to drought: albizia, Althea, bignone , buddléia, ceanothe, rockrose (not very hardy), oleander (little hardy), shrubby lavatera.
Perennial ornamental grasses require very little maintenance, are drought resistant, decorative in winter, and grow in spring from their stumps.
Choose them large and plant them en masse. Choose, for example sedges, fescue canes, luzula (Luzula sylvatica Variegata), miscanthus , pennisetums, Stipa …
- A hedge or grove of tall bamboos does not require pruning, maintenance, and remains perfectly clean, but only plant non-tracing bamboos ( Fargesia bamboos ).
- Some tracing dwarf bamboos (Pleioblastus distichus, Pleioblastus fortunei) can be used to create, in the absence of a lawn, a clear space (where one will not be able to walk), uniformly green, requiring only one annual mowing. An anti-rhizome barrier may then be necessary.
Annuals are not possible in the garden without maintenance: they require careful care at the time of sowing and need to be renewed each year. So opt for well-chosen perennials, selecting them easy-going and drought-resistant, for example:
- Plants with silver-gray foliage for example sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana Valérie Finnis), myrtle, rosemary, Byzantine Stachys.
- Flowering perennials: acanthus mollis, asters, coreopsis , sunflower, hemerocallis, euphorbia, gaura lindheimerii, tree lupine, evening primrose, penstemon, rudbeckias, sanguisorbes, sage, sedums, and solidago canadensis.
Note: Plant the perennials flowered in mass, rather tight, to form large, maintenance-free, colorless patches, resting for example on shrubs.
There are roses, growing everywhere, never sick and not requiring any care: no treatments, no sizesummer:and practically no watering.
- Rosa rugosa: rose bush with white or purple flowers.
- Vine roses (Rosa banksiae lutea, Albéric Barbier, Kipesgate filipes, Albertine …), particularly spectacular if you have them climb on a big tree.
4. Treat your garden at startup
Take care of the growing plants
- In poorly drained soil (heavy, clay), add a generous amount of gravel or sand to the plantation, for example, a layer of gravel at the bottom of each planting hole, and mixed river sand that can be used to reseal the hole.
- Form a wide watering basin around the newly planted vegetable, and has Roses copiously for planting : 10 liters for a perennial, 20 liters for a shrub, 30 liters for a tree.
Mend your plants all the first year
In the first year after planting, plants are not yet able to survive without care:
- Water once a month in winter and regularly in summer : practice a deep watering every time, which will encourage the plants to push their roots deep in the ground: for that, bring as much water as at the moment of the plantation and pour -la in the watering bowl.
- Weed the first year carefully, to avoid the competition of weeds in your plants.