We all love looking at those stunning gardens in home décor magazines, and many of us may also dream of changing our own yards to look like the gardens in those glossy photos. Well, maybe one day. While many people have a fabulous green thumb and totally enjoy gardening, many others do not.
There are many benefits to having a garden. Firstly, if you ever want to try and resell your home, a lovely garden will make your house look more appealing. Even if you don’t plan on selling your home, a beautiful garden can be a source of enjoyment for you and your family. We all need to spend a little more time outdoors, and if you have a dedicated outdoor area where you can be comfortable and enjoy meals and drinks, you’re more likely to open the doors and step out into the sunlight.
You don’t need to be a horticulturist to transform your outdoor space into a stunning garden. There are endless possibilities for low maintenance garden ideas that are suitable for gardens of all sizes. From creating dedicated spaces for plants to adding the right furniture, you can create an outdoor haven and enjoy the precious space you have.[i]
Before you rush out to the local garden centre and start buying plants, you need to begin with a plan. Often, the best place to start is with borders. Think of this as a frame for your garden. Raise the garden beds and opt for low maintenance border plants. Lavender is great around borders as it is quite hearty and only needs to be pruned once a year. Best of all, lavender smells divine. Many other plants would look equally fabulous along your garden border, so if you don’t want to spend hours gardening, look at some low maintenance shrubs or different sized succulents.
Once you’ve created your border, it’s time to consider what other areas you’d like to make. One of the first things you need to look at is where you plan on sitting. Look at your space at different times of the day to see where the sun is shining. If you like to have breakfast in a sunny spot, then your furniture should be positioned to catch the morning sun. The same applies to any other time you favour outdoor time. Once you assign your dedicated furniture area, you can add other elements to your garden.
To create the perfect low maintenance garden, you want to keep grass areas to a minimum. This is easy if you only have a courtyard or a small yard, but you may want to keep a little bit of your lawn if you have an expansive yard, especially if you have pets.
Avoid the temptation to concrete every available inch of your garden. Sure, concrete is virtually maintenance-free, but the look is industrial and bland. Incorporate different materials into your garden. There are many other choices for ground cover, such as pavers, tiles or cobblestones. Add some wooden decking or gravel, and you have a low maintenance garden with different textures. Best of all, most of these materials are natural, which is perfect for an outdoor setting.
The primary purpose of having a beautiful garden is to enjoy spending time in it. Garden furniture should be durable enough to leave outdoors. Once again, the best outdoor furniture should be made from natural materials and also require as little maintenance as possible. Consider adding a low-maintenance teak bench to the prime spot in your garden. Add a few chairs and a small table, and you have the perfect location for coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon.
Outdoor furniture has come a long way over the years and is often just as comfortable as indoor furniture. With the addition of comfy cushions, you may find yourself spending more time outdoors enjoying warm breezes and sunshine. If the sun is too bright at certain times of the day, there are many innovative shade solutions you can add to your garden oasis. Think along the lines of canopies, patios and even the humble table umbrella.
A garden can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be. You can limit plants to just the border, or you can create raised garden beds in different areas for a dramatic effect. You can construct raised flower beds out of wood, bricks, rocks or concrete that can be tiled. You’re limited only to your imagination.
One of the best things about raised garden beds is that they are easier to work with and less straining on your back. You can create small, manageable beds, and if you line the insides, you won’t need to worry about weeds.
Combine the best of raised garden beds with your outdoor furniture. Many ensembles have built-in planter boxes which are super convenient and, if you plant aromatic herbs in them, you can have an aromatherapy session every time you sit outside.
Part of a low maintenance garden should always include planters. These come in various shapes, sizes and colours, as well as being made from different materials. With planters, you can let your imagination go wild. Many planters come as naked planters, which means you can paint them and decorate them in any way you like.[ii]
Place taller planters in strategic corners of your yard and fill them with low maintenance plants such as bamboo or a large cactus. Surround the taller planters with smaller ones, and your garden will look lush and green without the hard work.
If you have an extra bit of space in your garden, don’t fill it with dirt. Add a water feature instead. You can add a small wall of water, a fountain or even a small pond. Water features look opulent, but they can be pretty affordable. You can even add an ornate tap over a stone basin and decorate around it.
Apart from adding charm to your low maintenance garden, a water feature is also incredibly relaxing to be around. The sound of running water is very soothing, and it can also make your yard look bigger than it is.
Once you’ve gotten all the hardware into your low maintenance garden, it’s time to add the plants[iii]. Your local garden centre is a great place to start so ask them to show you their range of easy maintenance plants. Find some with a bit of height to put along your fence line and smaller ones, such as shrubs along pathways. Make sure you also add some colour with a few flowering plants. Before you commit to your plants, do your homework. If you don’t plan on keeping a watering schedule, go for tough plants that only need occasional watering.
One crucial question to ask is how well your plants will survive the winters. This is especially important if you live in colder climates with snowy winters. Look at plants like evergreens, lavender and catmint. Even bulbs such as tulips, irises and daffodils are perfect for low maintenance gardens. The only downside to these flowers is that you’ll need to remove the greenery once their blooms pass. It’s perfectly fine to leave the bulbs in the soil and watch them bloom again in the spring.
Don’t forget trees. While we may conjure up images of enormous trunks when we think of trees, you can keep them small with a pruning once a year. Yes, this is maintenance, but it’s only once a year. Citrus trees are also a great choice as they tend to have a thick growth of shiny dark green leaves and, the added bonus, fruit.
All gardens can be beautiful, even the smallest ones. You can go for a lush garden packed with low maintenance plants, or you can take on a minimalistic approach and just have borders with plants and a few well-placed planters.
Gorgeous gardens are meant to be enjoyed and not become another chore you spend your precious weekends working in. By creating your own low maintenance oasis, you can have the garden you want without the back-breaking work that comes with keeping your garden looking great.
The golden rule of your garden is that this should be an area of your home that you want to spend time in. This should be your place to retreat to at the end of a busy day. Keep the natural aesthetics of your garden with a stunning garden bench made from natural wood. Load that bench with cushions, pour yourself a drink, then relax and watch the sun go down.
The best gardens are not the ones in magazines, but the ones we spend time in with the people we love.
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.
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