When it comes to gardens or garden plants, the way you look at those subjects is decisive.

When we humans get involved in something, work inevitably ensues, because there always arises a situation where we want something different than what happens 'naturally'. So even a bare garden always gives work.


Because rain and wind have free play, dust precipitates from the air and acidifies the soil due to the rain, nitrogen rains on the soil from a thunderstorm (fertilizer) , algae will grow on the soil, seeds carried by the wind and birds germinate, there will be germs and small visiting animals will relieve themselves (enriching the soil with it). And that's not even talking about the soil life itself, which also develops automatically. You probably won't observe that entire process with great interest, although it is interesting enough. No, you are going to intervene, because something arises that you do not want. That means: work, change, maintenance, effort, resulting in an effect that is to your liking. Nature wants something different. You will therefore have to sweep, organize, change and fight if you do not want your piece of garden to change into 'new nature' within a short time. Moreover, what happens on your side of the fence around your garden is not solely your business. Local residents and even the municipality where you live also have something to say about it if what happens in your area has an effect on what happens outside. Trees that get too big plants that proliferate through their roots, weeds that spread. There are rules and guidelines about this. So you can be forced to tackle and change something in your garden, even if you don't want to in principle.

With the above we just want to say that a maintenance free garden is not possible. Low maintenance or (in other words) maintenance friendly is possible. But then you should use that as a basic principle when designing your garden and make, lay out or compose all elements in your garden in such a way that they give as little work as possible. That is the starting point everywhere.

You will always have to weigh choices. A terrace with small cobblestones, for example, where a lot of joints arise between them, is excellent for allowing rainwater to quickly sink into the soil, but a lot of weeds also grow between them that you will have to spray off a few times a year with a high-pressure sprayer and then remove the joints. wipe with clean crushed sand. A terrace made of non-slip coated tiles of a large size gives much less work, but allows hardly any water to pass through. Water that then has to be collected and discharged elsewhere.

Another example: How are you going to separate your garden from the environment as maintenance-friendly as possible? If you want it green, then the choice for a hedge is obvious, but do not choose a fast-growing species because you will have to prune it three times a year. But with a slow-growing variety, it takes much longer to mature or you have to buy hedge plants of a larger size, but then you will be much more expensive. And do you want that hedge to be evergreen in winter or rather deciduous, so that a low winter sun can shine right through it in winter. Would you rather have a fence? Then soft woods such as pine or spruce are the worst choice, no matter how well impregnated. Because those species need maintenance every year. Somewhat harder woods such as sweet chestnut wood or Robinia wood are not. But they are also more expensive. You can - because maintenance is not necessary - low-maintenance climbing plants(like ivy) to grow against it and turn it into a green wall.

With those hedges and ivy we have come to the actual subject of this article: how do you create a maintenance-friendly garden planting? The choices therein differ per planting element and per garden type. For example, you can create a pot garden. The advantage of this is that every plant can get its own special soil, that every pot can be connected to an automatic watering system and that plants can easily change places. If something is a bit less beautiful, you can put such a plant out of sight. You can also create gardens with special plant choices, for example a cactus garden (hardy cacti abound) , a tropical garden with palms and lush foliage, a water or swamp garden (a well-made pond is low maintenance), a Chinese or Japanese garden, a herb garden, a utility garden (fruit garden or vegetable garden) , a garden like a pharmacy with medicinal plants, a garden with dye plants, a butterfly and insect garden, a rock garden, even a moss garden etc. etc. For all those types of gardens have specific directions to make maintenance as easy as possible. Plenty of useful tricks, tips and tools.

In this article the emphasis is on the 'normal', average garden, which is of course not ordinary at all, but which best suits what most people want: your own piece of landscaped nature in which you can enjoy colors and scents, beautiful plants, butterflies and other insects and animals, especially birds, in which children are often allowed to play or you can sit in the sun. For such an average garden with flowers and plants that grow in the open ground in borders, a structure ( composition)as in nature, the best. A kind of storey structure is standard in nature: ground cover plants at the bottom, herbaceous perennials above, shrubs above and trees growing above that. If you want to make it easy on yourself, it's best to go with nature and follow that schedule more or less. That's tip one.

Tip two is: plants that do not need maintenance do not exist. That's easy to understand: plants grow. If not in height, they will expand in width. And plants don't last forever. So they will sometimes have to be replaced. So-called deciduous plants drop all their leaves in the autumn in a short time, but evergreen plants also repel old leaves. Just not everything at once. So it's less noticeable, but it does happen. They know all about that in the tropics: you can sweep leaves under the evergreen trees every day all year round. And where did you think the brown coniferous carpet under conifers and other conifers comes from?

But let's take a closer look at the different plant groups/plant elements in the garden for their maintenance needs:


An ornamental or play lawn consists of a mixture of several ground cover grasses. Because the fashion is that such a lawn should be as low-species and monotonous as possible – you can actually no longer call it a plant community, but a man-made monoculture such as in the Dutch meadows nowadays – that entails a lot of work. If you don't feel like working on a lawn every week, then give it a go and make it an area that you plant with all kinds of other types of evergreen and often also periodically flowering ground cover perennials and shrubs such as thyme (Thimus) , zene (Ajuga ) ) , lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor), Waldsteinia ternata and numerous other species. Admittedly: it is better not to walk too much on it, but in terms of garden work it makes a huge difference. It can be very beautiful and you can also get rid of those miserable edging stitches or lawn hemming, because that ground cover carpet can blend seamlessly where you plant taller perennials, shrubs and possibly even a few trees. A major advantage of a densely grown carpet of ground covers is that hardly any weeds grow through it. Weed seed is in the soil, but sunlight cannot reach it and so it does not germinate. Weeds that do grow out are usually blown in from the air – just like in a gravel path – or they are perennial weeds.


These are actually somewhat taller herbaceous plants (which do not form really lignified stems) , but some can easily reach 2 m in height. You can choose from hundreds of varieties for all lighting conditions. And of those species there are in total thousands of cultivars (breeding forms, also called varieties) . If you want to be sure of low-maintenance varieties, choose evergreens (which also keep their leaves in winter).. They give the least work. You do not have to cut away dead material or cut the plants back. However, they may have expanded too much over the course of a few years at the expense of other plants. Then you can remove a part. Because the choice is so large, we do not give examples here. It is advisable to sprinkle organic fertilizer between the plants every spring for some extra nutrition. But do that as needed.


In fact, the same applies to this group of lignifying plants as to the perennials. Evergreen varieties provide less work. But they often flower less beautifully or less exuberantly, so we recommend a mix of evergreen and deciduous species. But with the latter, our choice would again fall on slow-growing varieties because they require much less pruning. With these species, pruning once a year – the pruning period differs per species – should be sufficient.


The story gets monotonous. Pruning also gives the most work for trees. With most fruit trees pruning is always necessary (once or twice a year) , with ornamental trees it depends on the size (height and/or size)they reach and their growth rate. If both are large, you can count on a lot of work, hassle with the neighbors because of shadow and other nuisance, and other perils. There are enough tree varieties that remain small that you don't have to worry about and so you can mainly enjoy those species. Except for the conifers, there are few good evergreen trees for our climate. A deciduous species such as the currant tree (Amelanchier) offers everything you could want: beautiful emerging leaves, beautiful blooms, edible berries that birds also flock to, and a beautiful autumn color of the leaves before they fall. You can safely leave that falling leaf between the ground covers. There it will digest fairly quickly and turn into plant food through the soil life. Exactly as happens in real nature.(the percentage that has then grown) . If you choose a tree species where it is necessary, you can also consider planting a topiary tree, if you like that. These are trees drilled in a certain artificial form. Pruning them back to the same size every year will keep them from growing.


Hedge plants are in fact also shaped trees. At least… when it comes to a tightly trimmed hedge. You have the choice between deciduous and evergreen species and fast or slow growing. We mentioned it above. Slow-growing evergreens provide the least amount of work. Even less work results in a so-called 'loose hedge' in which the shrubs or trees are planted staggered in relation to each other and allowed to grow more according to their natural shape. Such a hedge does require more space.


You can choose from self-adhesive species and plants that you have to manage. Self sutures are species such as ivy (Hedera) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) that have suction cups or tendrils and you can let them do their own thing in places where they can't disrupt structures. Plants that you have to guide against climbing supports, which they then swing around in all kinds of ways and work their way up to the light, are, for example, wisteria (Wisteria) and honeysuckle (Lonicera) . So the latter give a little more work. Some, like the bridal veil (Fallopia), bloom beautifully, but grow very fast and eventually form dense packs of dead twigs between the living greenery, which can give a lot of dust (difficult for asthma patients) . Others, such as clematis and passion flower (Passiflora) can freeze back sharply in severe winters. Then you have to correct it again. There are also many annual climbers that you can plant in the spring like all annuals and remove in the fall. In the meantime you have been able to enjoy their often beautiful flowering.


We already mentioned them above. You buy them in the spring, take care of them during the spring, summer and autumn, and remove them again when their flowering period is over. You don't have to do much more than water and feed, so the work on these plants is not that bad. Preventing them from drying out is key.


There are also hundreds of species. Choose the varieties that do not need to be taken out of the ground every year. Species that you can naturalize, such as botanical tulips (Tulipa) , crocuses (Crocus) , winter aconites (Eranthis) , snowflakes and other bellflowers (Galanthus) , etc. You have almost no work on that. There are also summer-flowering and even fall-flowering bulbs and tubers.


This plant group also requires little care. We already wrote above that ponds are low-maintenance garden elements. Most of the work on pond plants is in the spring to remove dead material and thin out overgrowing species.


Which ground cover is suitable is not only determined by the type of soil, but also by the moisture balance of the soil, the location of the planting area (sunny or shaded) and last but not least your personal taste. There are few varieties that thrive in both sun and shade, unless the soil is moist and moist.

Of course there is much more to say on this subject, but when it comes to garden planting, these are the essentials for a low- maintenance plant choice !

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