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Low maintenance garden ideas

By Emma Smith

Article written by Alice Bradley from
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Learn to create the most enviable, easy garden there is with low maintenance landscaping and simple garden ideas, so you can spend less time caring for your garden and more time in it.

Have a peruse of these low maintenance garden ideas for the time poor individual, from Gavin Cole, horticulturist with ACS Distance Education.

Perennial flowers, such as lavender, will fill your garden with a burst of colour year after year without you so much as lifting a finger, unlike annuals, which you will have to replace every season.

They work to give your garden more permanence in garden beds, window boxes and containers.

Organic mulch
Mulch is a good friend of the low maintenance garden. It brings two advantages – less weeding and less watering.
“Putting down a layer of mulch prevents weeds and means you’ll need to water your garden less because the water won’t evaporate from the soil as quickly,” says Gavin.

Stone mulch
Really lazy? Go one better than mulch and fill your garden beds with stones.

“A stone mulch, or non-organic mulch, is not going to break down and need to be replaced,” says Gavin. “You may need to use a blower every now and then to get rid of any debris that lands on them.”

Low-key lawns
A lawn is high maintenance whichever way you look at it, Gavin says. However, some grasses suit low maintenance gardens better than others. Gavin suggests:

A good grass for warmer climates, zoysia is slow-growing meaning you don’t have to mow as much.

In terms of watering, this grass is the winner. It’s quick to propagate and grows and repairs quickly.

An alternative to grass, especially in smaller courtyards, is replacing the natural turf with artificial turf.

Even those lower maintenance lawns will still have to contend with weeds, especially during winter, and all astroturf needs is a little shake off every now and then to remove debris.

Ever considered replacing real plants with outdoor artworks that evoke elements in nature, like a striking sculpture for example?

“Things like murals or mosaics made out of tiles or positioned on a water fountain and depicting nature is what we call biomimicry,” Gavin says. “It allows people to make a connection to nature.”

Hard landscaping
Instead of relying on flowers, introduce colour to your garden in your hard landscaping.

Easy garden ideas include painting a trellis or pavers, or even painting or whitewashing a brick wall. By involving colour in your hard landscaping this way, plants won’t be so integral to the colour scheme – and you won’t have to be so prudent in planting and pruning them.

Pots, pots, pots
Pots are not exactly lower maintenance from a watering point of view: “Plants in a garden bed have a longer root run so they’ll be able to extract water from deeper down the root profile,” explains Gavin.

However, they’re a whole lot easier to replace if you decide to change them. Just empty and replenish the soil, as opposed to digging out roots from a garden bed that have a strong foothold in the soil.

Filling your garden with more native plants will certainly assist with a low maintenance landscaping project. Because these varieties have evolved in our conditions, Australian natives require less watering and feeding than exotic plants.

Also, there’s an awful lot of choice – you can find native perennials, shrubs or trees in native varieties. Best bit: Most usually require only a light prune to keep their shape.

Slow & steady
If you’re after a low maintenance garden, slow and steady wins the race.

Avoid plants that grow vigorously, such as potato vines, and instead embrace slower growing varieties like succulents. Always read the plant label as you can find some slow growing varieties of popular plants, too.

Finally, avoid deciduous plants which are going to create a lot of leaf litter in autumn. The last thing you want to be doing is raking up leaves when you could be putting your feet up.


Every lazy gardener needs their own basic irrigation system.

“Watering is one of the biggest chores in the garden when it comes to low maintenance gardens. So if you don’t have do that, it’s a win all round!” says Gavin.

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