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Landscaping for Low Maintenance

How Low Can You Go?

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Using low-maintenance landscaping techniques can reduce much of your yard work. Mowing, weeding, watering, and pruning can be overwhelming, even for those who love to garden. Here are a few tips:

Choose the right plants

  • A shrub that grows to 6 feet tall will require regular pruning if planted under a window that is three feet above the ground. There are many dwarf varieties of trees and shrubs that are ideal for small areas and may never need pruning.
  • Native plants are always a good choice for the landscape because they adapt to surroundings more easily than exotic species. Grouping plants that have the same cultural needs will save time when watering and fertilizing.
  • Keep the planting beds narrow for easy access to interior plants; design them with long, sweeping curves so that the mower can reach the edge, eliminating hand trimming.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch

    A thick layer of organic mulch around plants will help to control weeds, conserve soil moisture, and add nutrients to the soil. Popular organic mulches are tree bark, shredded leaves, pine needles, and plant wastes such as cocoa shells. (If you have any pets, please note that cocoa mulch contains theobromine, which is lethal for dogs and cats.) If weeds are a serious problem, lay down several layers of newspaper before mulching.

    Keep the lawn as small as possible

    • Some lawn alternatives are large areas of ground covers or wildflowers, mulched beds, in addition to decks and patios.
    • Proper lawn care will save you work because a healthy lawn is less likely to be bothered by weeds, insects, and diseases. Keep the grass tall; let it grow to three or four inches and then mow off one-third. High grass shades out weeds and won't dry out as quickly as closely cropped turf.
    • Water infrequently but deeply to encourage deep rooting.
    • We hope that these ideas will help make it easier for you to maintain your landscape—as well as your sanity.

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