Low-maintenance plants | Living the Country Life

Low-maintenance plants

It's not necessary to spend hours in the garden. By choosing low-maintenance plants and gardening practices, your landscape will look great with little fuss.

Radio interview source: Denny Schrock, Garden Editor, Better Homes & Gardens

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

Irises, lilacs, peonies, and lilies are among the low-maintenance perennials that come up year-after-year without much fuss.
Denny Schrock is a garden editor for Better Homes and Gardens. He says there is no such thing as a no-maintenance landscape, but it is possible to have an attractive garden that is easy to care for. The trick is to select species that are native to your area, and adapted to the site where you plant them. Schrock says there are other characteristics to look for, such as few disease or insect problems, and a slow-to-moderate growth rate. 
"Pretty much anything that grows fast either has weak growth that's going to break off in wind, or, in the case of herbaceous perennials, if they grow real fast, they're probably a garden thug and they're going to take over everything and need to be trimmed back quite frequently," he says. "That sort of leads to the second characteristic in that they should be non-invasive. They don't spread by runners, or self-seed readily and come up where you don't want them to."
Generally, trees and shrubs will require the lowest amount of care. Herbaceous perennials, ornamental grasses, and ground covers are next. Annual flowers usually need some upkeep, and Schrock says turf grass requires the most attention.
He says there are some steps you can take to make your landscape less work, even with high-maintenance plants. One is to use mulch.
"Mulch is great for cutting down on the frequency of watering that you need to do, cuts back on weed problems," says Schrock. "Another thing to reduce maintenance is to plant things in groupings or clusters. Rather than having to trim around each individual tree or shrub, plant it with things around it so you can trim around a big area. And while you're doing that grouping, make sure you group plants with like needs."

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