Maintenance is a fact of life, especially when it comes to landscaping. Your landscape is a living entity that will grow, change, and react to the climate in ways that require a garden care expert to keep it looking its best. And to be honest, in our climate, there’s no such thing as a truly “low maintenance” landscape.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t minimize the maintenance required to keep your landscape looking spectacular. It’s all about having the right design.
If your landscape company follows best practices, they can ensure that you have less to worry about while enjoying a spectacular garden. So, what exactly does it take to create a low maintenance landscape?
Three Elements of a Low Maintenance Landscape
1 The Right Plants
By putting the right plants in the right place according to their shade, moisture, and soil composition needs, you can reduce your maintenance requirements. For example, using a higher percentage of native plants will limit the need for irrigation and fertilizer because those plants naturally grow in your region.
A landscape firm will also supplement your landscape with other plants that are adaptable to the seasonal patterns of your region as well as the specific characteristics of your property. By choosing the right plants for your climate zone, you can rest easy knowing that they are most likely to survive and thrive with the proper care.
The key is to ask your landscaper for low resource plants, which translates to low maintenance. A good example are shrubs, which provide background color throughout every season and can be left to take on their natural silhouette with only minimal pruning.
2 Self-Sustaining Features
Low maintenance means choosing landscaping features that require minimal intervention because they are mostly self-sustaining. For example, that means avoiding hedges and evergreen plants that need to be trimmed and edged regularly. Instead, you should ask about a more naturalized look such as planting a woodland area with groundcover plants of grass-like sedges.
3 Proactive and Attentive Care
If your landscape is cared for attentively and proactively, then it will require less maintenance in the long term. Caretakers should have a mindset that avoids wasting water or treating an infestation or disease without first correctly identifying the issue. In this way, they will only do what is absolutely necessary. This conservative treatment option will take care of developing problems before they become a serious threat.
Benefits of a Low Maintenance Landscape
The benefits of a low maintenance landscape can’t be overstated. As we said above, low maintenance means low resource use, which means a lower cost to care for your landscape and a more environmentally responsible result.
Less Expensive to Care For
The key to saving money is in design. A landscape firm that cares about low maintenance will take great care of the types of plants they use and how those plants are grouped. They’ll pay attention to both slow and fast-growing plants because they each bring their own unique elements to the landscape, particularly when it comes to cost.
Fast-growing plants such as forsythia, laurels, barberry, and burning bush are less expensive to purchase up front, but they require more maintenance—pruning four times a year. Slow-growing plants such as dwarf hinoki cypress, boxwoods, and hollies require less maintenance, but they cost more to install initially.
The right mix of fast- and slow-growers along with shrubs, which are the backbone of every landscape, will keep your costs down while still giving you a beautiful landscape in every season.
Lawngrass is the highest maintenance feature of any landscape. Lawns must be mowed (gasoline use), fertilized, and irrigated regularly. On top of that, from time to time, your lawn must be treated for fungus, weeds, and insects/pests.
On the other hand, low maintenance grass alternatives in a “naturalized” landscape will limit the amount of area allocated to turf and use ornamental grasses and perennials to cover the ground instead of a lawn. In this way, you’ll enjoy a beautiful pastoral aesthetic in gorgeous design patterns without all the hassle of weekly mowing and lots of irrigation. Interspersed with evergreens, it’s an environmentally responsible way to landscape.
Low Maintenance Landscapes Require Design Finesse
Your style preference will have a significant impact on the amount of maintenance your landscape requires. Unfortunately, a typical Northern Virginia neighbor doesn’t want to see a fully naturalized homescape with field grasses and wildflowers. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and accept a high maintenance landscape just for a neater and tidier look.
An expert landscape designer can finesse your landscape so that it fits your style and standards while still requiring less maintenance. It’s all about choosing the right plants, self-sustaining features, and proactive care.
Thinking about investing in a landscape design project? Our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.