We always look to the wild world for instruction, and as we think of a low maintenance garden or landscape model we naturally turn once again to our source. In the natural landscape there are no weeds, there are no mowers or edgers, nobody prunes or spreads bark, and there is surely no landscape fabric. What is there about the design of this seamless arrangement that makes it be beautiful and laborfree?
Start with the thought of what is the maintenance you wish to avoid,
Weeding and the techniques we employ to prevent weeds are surely the greatest time expenditure in the built landscape, so what are these things we call weeds? They are the species that are adapted to filling in the disturbed places, the open spaces, the unplanted areas. These species buttercups, horsetails, annual bluegrass and all their kin are really nature’s first responders; they are the EMT’s of the plant world.
When a landslide rips away the plant cover, or a big tree blows over and lays bare the forest floor, the first plants that grow are these very species, they are rushing in to fill the space, and cover the soil. Their job is to protect the very essence of any landscape, its soil. Loose your soil and it’s over.
We believe that most problems are design problems, and so with this of landscape labor. How can we design a landscape that will require the least labor input over the long run?
If open spaces are the invitation to these disturbance adapted species, let’s design something more like the Eaglecrest model where the low shrubbery grows together so quickly that we miss all the intervening steps, let’s go directly to the finished product. Let’s plant the shrubbery in sizes, patterns and spacing so that within a couple of seasons it will grow together into a carpet that is a little bigger than the competition, so it hides and then shades out the weeds.
That is the essence of the low maintenance design, pick the areas you want to focus on for flowers and use hardy perennials there. Plant the majority of the landscape in tough shrubbery that will take the absolute minimum of care, and space them so that they will cover the soil completely within a couple of seasons.
This section of our website is dedicated to the development of the low maintenance techniques. In it you will find examples, recipes and species choices.