Everyone enjoys a beautiful garden. When you enter one, your blood pressure decreases, your senses are heightened by the intoxicating smells and sights, and you immediately feel calm and tranquil. If you haven’t already considered gardening, maybe you should. Studies show gardening improves your physical strength, can reduce weight, can increase your heart health and immune system, and can help you sleep better. But who wants to do all that work? Gardening doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Nor does a garden need constant attendance. Here are tips on how to create a low maintenance, sustainable flower garden.
(Some of the links within this post are affiliate links on which I receive a small compensation from the sale of certain items.)
Smaller Is Better
In order to establish a low maintenance garden, I suggest you start small. You can still enjoy the benefits even if it is a small manageable size. To learn how to prepare the soil for a garden, refer to Starting a Garden.
Smaller gardens mean less work: less pruning, less weeding, and less deadheading. In other words, low maintenance. So if you are considering a garden, start small and make it sustainable by selecting native plants.
Once you have mastered a small garden, consider eliminating more of your lawn and adding sustainable garden space. A process called “sheet mulching” is an easy alternative to tilling and digging up lawns. Lawns require a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain that no-weed, pristine look. By incorporating natural settings into your yard, you eliminate the hassle of cutting, fertilizing, trimming and edging a lawn.
YouTube Video on Sheet Mulching
Sustainability is Key
When planting a low maintenance garden, your main goal is not to control the plants, but to allow them to thrive in the climate, soil type, and natural water cycle of your environment.
One important factor to take into consideration is the mature size of the shrubs, trees or flowers (Plants Express) you plant. In order to create a sustainable garden, you want it to last through the years without having to rip out overgrown shrubs, etc.
Many beginner gardeners try to cram too many plants into a spot in order for it to look full. But this is not good practice. After a few years they end up pulling out live plants because there just isn’t enough room for them all. One way to eliminate the problem is to do your homework and learn how tall and wide the plant will grow. Then allow for that space in your garden.
Number of Plants
If you are starting off with a small swatch of land, be mindful of the size and how many plants you are planting. With a small garden, one tree, 3 shrubs (Plants Express) and perhaps 3 to 5 perennials is sufficient. To add color to vacant spots while these plants are growing, plant carefree annuals or decorate with ornaments.
Choose plants native to your area. This can be found by taking a trip to your local extension service. Extension service offices are usually county wide and are a great resource for gardening and farming questions from locals. They often offer free lectures and community events. You can probably save yourself a trip by researching their website.
Advantages of native plants:
- they are rarely invasive
- no pesticides or fertilizers are needed
- adaptable to local weather
- they restore natural habitats for animals, birds, and insects
- provide shelter and food for wildlife
- require less watering
- help prevent erosion
If you’d like to obtain unusual plants for your garden, research flowers with similar bioregions. I live in the northeastern part of the USA. After researching my biome, I found it is similar to western Europe and northeast China. I could try finding native plants from those areas and plant them as a native plant in my garden. Since the characterisitics of the natural environment are similar, they should thrive in my garden.
However, check for diseases associated with these plants. You will be better off purchasing them from a local store rather than importing them from different countries. Regulations may not allow you to have them shipped to your country. So find them locally.
Mulching is crucial for creating a low maintenance garden. It keeps the plants cool, helps retain water, makes the garden look groomed and helps prevent unwanted weeds. It’s best to add a 4 to 6 inch layer of heavy mulch in early spring before plantings become too dense to see bare earth. In addition to mulch, feed the soil with good compost.
A little bit of effort in early spring will reap big benefits during the summer growing season. You will not have to constantly pull out weeds and enjoy the aesthetics instead!
Groundcover is a good alternative to grass. It is hardy and very easy to maintain. It also blocks out weeds, hence making it low maintenance. Just plant it and let it grow! Here are a couple groundcovers to choose from. Check out your planting zone, climate and soil before selecting.
Vinca Minor – tolerates high heat and almost full shade; likes moist, organic soil
Creeping Phlox – likes full sun to partial shade; adaptable to most soil types; blooms in the spring
Stone Crop – tolerates full to partial sun; well drained soil
Drought Tolerant Plants
If you are fortunate enough to live in a lush, warm, wet habitat, watering will not be an issue. Be sure to select water loving plants for your low-maintenance garden. However, not all of us are that fortunate. We live in areas where rain is not as predictable. So if you live in an area that is more drought prone, read on.
In addition to native plants, you will want to select plants for drought tolerance. When maintaining a garden, watering is a big issue. But if you have plants that are drought tolerant, you will not be burdened with this daily chore. You may only have to water once a week if it has not naturally rained at least one inch during the week.
Some low water perennial plants
Black Eyed Susans (Shutterstock)
A Couple of Low Maintenance Perennials
For more information, refer to How to Grow Lavender Plants.
Ornamental grasses are quite drought tolerant once established. They are also very low maintenance. There is no need to deadhead, water, prune or fertilize. Just watch as they gracefully move in a summer breeze. Check out How to Care for Ornamental Grasses.
Some Other Rules of Thumb
When selecting plants for your low maintenance garden, use this ratio:
- choose 1/3 of the plants to be evergreens to add visual interest throughout the seasons
- select 1/3 to 1/2 as native plants
- the last third should be chosen with regard to optimizing drought resistance, adaptability, and adding beauty to your garden.
Use a good drip irrigation system (Amazon) on all trees and shrubs for the first two to three seasons. After that they should have established deep roots and will not need much pampering. In other words, they’re on their own!
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Make it Sustainable and Reap the Benefits
If you follow these easy steps, you will find gardening is not that difficult and does not have to be time consuming. A well planned stragegy will help ease the creation of your garden. It will allow you to sit back and “smell the roses” rather than constantly watering, feeding, weeding and performing all the other chores a high maintenance garden requires. Do yourself and the earth a favor by planting a more sustainable garden.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
12 thoughts on “Low Maintenance Flower Garden – Sustainable and Beneficial”
It’s great that I have came across your article because my girlfriend and my sister-in-law are huge gardeners and love it. They will find this article so interesting and I think will help them. In fact your site would be something that I think they would want to check in with regularly. I will encourage them to do that when I share this article with them intitially.
If they have any burning questions or issues that you could help them with in their gardening, then I will advise them to get in touch with you. If that is OK with you?
Thank you for sharing and keep up the great work.
All the best,
I’m glad you liked my article. I will gladly advise them in their gardening adventures. If there are any topics they would like me to discuss, please ask them to contact me and I will gladly write on it. Thanks for sharing it with your girlfriend and sister-in-law!
I like how expanded your blog post is on a low-maintenance flower garden, one that is also sustainable and beneficial. I love to have an ecological garden, that is pretty and doesn’t need much work at the same time. Reading your blog post, I actually already have a few plants in my garden, like the stonecrop. And it grows like crazy and doesn’t need any water in the area that I live, it’s so easy and still full of wild bees in the season! I wish you much happiness with your fantastic garden!
I’m happy you liked the post. And, I’m glad you already have some of the flowers I suggested! Yes, sustainable is the way to go. It not only helps the environment but makes it easy for you to care for. I’m also happy you have good pollinators in your garden. To read more about pollinators, try this blog, “Helper Bees“. I think you’ll like it. Thanks again for your comment and if you’d like me to touch on another subject, let me know.
Reading that post was almost as relaxing as actually enjoying my own flower garden. I have been thinking about having my own little garden. Mainly because I love flowers almost as much as I love the idea of having butterflies and birds enjoy what nature has offered them.
You’ve really given me some great advice as to how to get started and what should be borne in mind when selecting plants. I really didn’t think about the fact that I need to cater for the plants’ growth and therefore spacing is important. I don’t know if I missed it but what do you suggest for bugs that may be native to the area. In my case I have this teeny tiny spiders that like to lay eggs on the underside of the leaves. These have wreaked havoc with some potted plants that I have. Do you have any advice on how best I can manage that situation.
Thanks for the advice so far and for giving me the encouragement to start up my little own piece of paradise. Looking forward to your response regarding those pesky spiders.
Hi Roberta. I’m glad you liked my post. It sounds like you have spider mites. I found Earth’s Alley Insect Control is good to control those pests and it is all natural. Below is a list of things to do before applying the spray. Follow these first, then apply the spray. (List sited from Earth’s Alley Website)
Prune leaves, stems and all affected parts of plants (wherever webbing is found) and discard in the trash. Do not place waste in compost piles. When necessary, pull the entire plant to keep infestation from spreading.Spray affected plants with your garden hose to reduce the number of spider mites with water.Introduce beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewing and predatory mites to assist with controlling pest levels.Keep plant leaves dust-free by incorporating a seasonal hosing in your garden maintenance schedule.Make sure plants are properly watered to avoid water stress, which makes plants susceptible to mites.
After this, saturate the leaves with Earth’s Alley Insect Control. Here is a review I wrote on the product.
If you would like more hummingbirds or butterflies in your garden, read my post “What Flowers Attract Hummingbirds”.
I’m so glad you enjoy gardening. It is very relaxing and good for the body and soul!
If you have any more comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask. Thank you for the comment.
wonderful post! my husband and I are putting together a raised garden and he talks about being sustainable with it all the time. your information is very thorough and I cannot wait to share it with my better half. he will enjoy reading about the mulching and watching the videos as much as I have today. thank you again for writing your post.
Sustainable is the way to go. I’m glad you are thinking on those lines. Raised gardens are quite easy to make. You can search youtube videos and follow their simple instructions. I’m glad you found my post informative. I hope you’re able to read some of the other posts especially the ones explaining how to create gardens under basic information. If you get a chance, send me some before and after pictures. I’d love to see them.
Thanks for the comment.
So glad I found your site. I have 10 acres to play with and have started some landscaping, getting ready for some gardens.
I have found heaps of good tips on your site that I will implement. Because I live in Australia and the bush, it will be mostly native, but I will have other appealing plants as well. Low maintenance is the key though.
Thanks for sharing. I will be looking forward to more posts.
I’m also glad you found my site! Ten acres is a lot of land! I’m hoping a lot of your property is in its native state so you don’t have to change it. To make some intimate areas you can incorporate smaller gardens with wildflowers and native plants. Here are a couple websites I found that may be helpful to you. I think you’ll find that a lot of the tips in my posts can apply to different geographical areas. Read the couple on basic information. Happy gardening and thanks for the comment. If you get a chance, please send me some before and after photos.
A Small garden is definitely better to me because you do not end up being overworked and you get to own a very beautiful garden and enjoy taking care of it too.
Seeing these beautiful ornamental plants is making me relaxed and chill, this is enough reason why anyone should have any of these at home.
I will definitely consider growing a couple of low maintenance perennials. They seem like they need not so much attention but the right nutrients to allow them grow well without lot of maintenance and they are beautiful too. In a case where there is not water, they will still grow pretty well and that is very encouraging
Thanks for the tips and advice. They have been helpful.
Thanks for your comment! Yes, it is best to have a smaller garden rather than larger, especially if you’re a beginner. I started small when I was just starting out and it was very satisfying. Making it sustainable and maintenance free is also a plus. The flowers featured in my article are very low maintenance. You just need to do a little clean up in early spring. The birds will also benefit from the seeds they produce in the fall.
I’m glad you enjoy gardening! It can do so much for a person’s well-being. If you have any more comments or questions, please don’t hesistate to ask!