Low Maintenance Flower Beds
Updated: Apr 12, 2018
In the wake of our release of 2018's Low Maintenance Plant List, I'd like to discuss some fun ways to think about creating low maintenance flower beds.
First, let's talk about the obstacles one would face when attempting to create a low maintenance flower bed environment.
Yes, weeds are a very large obstacle, and you certainly want to have a flower bed without them. So what can you do to make sure weeds aren't constantly taking over your low-maintenance flower beds.
The first thing is to make sure you strip the top layer of your beds down about every 3 years. Flower beds, over time, develop a layer of decomposing mulch, dirt, seeds, leaves, and other debris on the top of the soil. If this isn't tilled into you soil it has a tendency to grow weeds. Now don't panic, you don't have to get the tiller out and till your flower beds. You just need to take a metal rake and stir things up a bit, and add a fresh thick layer of mulch to the top. This is enough to prevent and keep at bay weeds in your beds.
Let's face it, pruning isn't always a fun task! Especially when you have to do it several times a year to maintain a nice looking flower bed. So what can you do to prevent this.
The first thing is to make sure you've chosen the right plants for the right places. For example, you wouldn't want to use a fast growing hedge shrub like a Holly in front of your living room picture window. This is an example of bad placement of a good shrub causing high maintenance flower beds. If this is what you have, it might be a good idea to invest in a new set of plants, or get a designer to take a look to see what can be done.
The next thing is to prune your plants in a more natural manner. To do this, you just need to prune at various heights. Now don't panic, what I'm suggesting actually reduces garden maintenance time.
Shrubs have a tendency to grow new branches where branches have been cut off. So, if you cut at all the same height it's only going to take a few days (or minutes is seems like) for these plants to produce shoots which make your plants look not-manicured. This can be frustrating, and certainly is not contributing to your low maintenance flower beds. However, pruning at various heights sort of like how hair is thinned, will produce a different result. When the plant produces the shoots, your shrub will look like a natural shrub growing normally. Pruning like this reduces your pruning time from four times a year to (at the most) two times a year.
Another large obstacle to low maintenance flower beds is poor edging material. Flower beds need some sort of edging, this is a simple boarder of some kind keeping your mulch in place and the weeds out.
This doesn't mean you have to run out and purchase an expensive edging. I recommend digging a trench around your beds and filling it with mulch. This is the simplest and most effective form of edging. All you need do is dig down about four inches and slope the soil back towards the house. Then fill the trench with mulch. The weeds and grass will look at this area like an area without good soil, which causes them to grow up instead of over. Making them easily cut off once or twice a year.
Be careful of edging material, or landscape fabric which promises the illusion of no maintenance. This can create a world where you forget you need a regular maintenance routine. Whether you hire someone to do your maintenance or do it yourself, your flower beds require maintenance. How you do it and how long it takes you depends largely on how you prepare, and whether you have a good low maintenance design.
I hope you enjoyed this topic. We'd love to hear your feedback or comments.