General guidance

Before you embark on ‘low-maintenancing’ your garden, work out what garden tasks you do and don’t want to do. If you hate mowing but enjoy pruning then you probably need to get rid of your lawn but keep your shrubs. If you love the exercise mowing gives you but don’t like fiddly plant jobs, then keep the lawn but go for plants that require little maintenance. If there’s part of the garden, such as a rockery, that you love but never seem to have the time to look after properly, then this might be the moment to admit defeat and let it go – better that than constantly feeling guilty. Make a note of what you will get rid of and what you will keep – make sure the things on the ‘keep’ list are those which you currently have the time to look after, otherwise what’s the point of keeping them?!

You also need to consider how much time a week you can dedicate to your garden – and be realistic about it. Here are some estimated times for tasks as a guide:

  • Mow a small lawn – 30 minutes
  • Water, weed and feed 10 containers – 20 minutes
  • Trim a 3 metre hedge – 30 minutes
  • Go to the garden centre to choose some plants – 1 hour
  • Plant the 5 new plants you bought – 30 minutes
  • Prune 6 shrubs – 1 hour

Finally, think about how much you can afford to spend on changing your garden to be more low maintenance and how much of the initial work you’re prepared to do yourself to keep costs down. Once you have a good idea of what you want, read on…

Tools of the trade
Design considerations
Lawn alternatives
Marking your boundaries
Where to put plants
Plants to use
Watering and feeding your plants
Garden furniture
Once you have your low maintenance garden