Like many things in life, landscapes are very subjective. What appeals to me may not appeal to you. The same is true when it comes to maintenance. A landscape that I consider “high-maintenance” may seem easy for you, and vice-versa.
Lets talk about a few things that can help to keep landscape upkeep to a minimum.
1) Choosing the right plants:
Plant selection is an important place to start. Fast-growing plants such as ligustrum and many hollies will give the landscape a mature look relatively quickly. They are good choices for areas where they can reach full maturity without obscuring the view of the house.
To avoid hours of pruning, choose plants such as boxwoods and laurels which mature slowly. If these plants are utilized correctly, it could be up to five years before you need to pick up the shears.
2) Designing the landscape:
Once you have an idea of what colors, shapes, and textures you want in your yard and have selected your plants, take a look at your spacing. Starting with a plan for placement can save you hours of work and maintenance in the future.
Sometimes a landscape can look sparse when you first lay it out, but patience is key here. Read the labels on your plants, and understand how large each shrub will get. If it says 4'x4', you want to make sure it's planted about 2' from the closest plant. If you are trying to create a hedge, you can reduce the spacing slightly. Keep the mature height of your plants in mind too. Will you have to continually trim a 3’ plant back from a low windowsill? If you are in a hurry for an established look, more mature plants are often available, but at a higher price point.
3) Understanding your lighting requirements:
Each plant is unique when it comes to sun tolerance. For example: most hydrangeas like partial sun, but prefer morning sun over the harsher afternoon light. If the front of your house only gets sun from 12:30 pm to 6 pm, you can still plant full-sun plants because the afternoon sun will be intense enough to sustain them.
The trickiest areas are those with partial and/or full shade. If your grass is struggling, chances are the shrubs will too. Shady areas can prohibit a lot of perennial or flowing options. Ferns, astilbe, hydrangeas, coral bells, and lenten roses do fairly well in the shade, but your options are still limited. Williamsburg, Virginia, for example, has many large trees and mature landscapes, so many properties require the use of shade-loving plants throughout the landscape.
Layout your low-maintenance landscape before starting
Choose plants that don't require frequent pruning
Check your spacing and keep mature plant height in mind
Consider your sun requirements
Enjoy your landscape!