10 low maintenance plants for an instant – but long-lasting – garden
I’ve been finding out about the ultimate low maintenance plants for an instant – yet long-lasting garden.
And holiday homes really need easy-care gardens, because there’s so little time when a gardener can go in to maintain the garden. So Garden designer Posy Gentles has just designed two low-maintenance, high impact gardens for Chimney Farms Barns in Oxfordshire, part of the Quince boutique holiday home collection.
Quince holiday homes have stylish, contemporary interiors. The founder, Sarah Wood, wanted the gardens to reflect this design ethic. Also the gardens also had to look good immediately, yet still look good five years later when they’d grown.
And one of the signature elements of Quince holiday properties is a bath in the garden! Chimney Farm Barns are courtyard properties, with windows on the three sides. So while the bath is open to the air, it also needed some privacy.
All in all, it was quite a design challenge. Posy chose the plants carefully, each one picked for easy care and a maximum season of appeal. This is a garden that doesn’t need dead-heading, watering, fertilising or even much pruning. And most of the plants are resilient enough to thrive even in very dry summers.
However, do note that in the first year after planting any plants, you must water them regularly until they get their roots deep enough to survive without.
It’s also worth remembering that all gardens need some maintenance. For example, every garden needs weeding, although you can slow weeds down by planting densely and using gravel or other mulches.
If you prefer to watch a video rather than read a post, you can watch this on YouTube here.
Top 10 low maintenance plants
- Choisya ternata
- Sedum (now known as Hylotelephium, especially ‘Herbstfraude’ or ‘spectabile’.) For low maintenance pots, smaller sedums like ‘Rose Carpet’ will need less watering.
- Broom (Cytisus scoparius ‘Burkwoodii’ ) – but yellow ‘Scotch broom’ is invasive in North America, Australia & New Zealand, so don’t plant it in those countries.
- Geranium macrorrhizum
- Juneberry (Amelanchier lamarkii)
- Seaside daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)
- Verbena bonariensis
Evergreen low maintenance plants for year-round impact
Posy started her palette of planting with evergreen plants, because they have structure and form all year round.
Her first choice was lavender. Lavender has a compact shape – especially if you clip it tightly once a year in August. It makes a good plant for low maintenance pots or as a low hedge to divide up the space. See how to clip lavender tightly in this post.
Limiting the number of different plants you grow also saves work, because you won’t have lots of different care schedules. This and more tips can be found in Low Maintenance Front Gardens – the myths and the truths.
Pots will always need more work, because they dry out more quickly. So they’ll need watering and feeding in the summer. But some plants really do work for easy, low maintenance pots.
Easy, spreading ground cover geranium
Plants which spread or self-seed make for easy gardening, because they cover the ground, which helps slow down weed growth.
Posy chose Geranium macrorrhizum as a ground cover plant, because it has pretty leaves (often evergreen, depending on your climate) and delicate pink flowers in spring. ‘It’ll just spread into any gaps and you can simply pull plants out if they spread too far,’ says Posy.
For long-season flowers that don’t need dead-heading
When choosing low maintenance plants, Posy has picked plants that are resilient enough not to need fertilising and which can withstand dry summers. But dead-heading is also a time-consuming chore, so plants that don’t need dead-heading are easy care.
Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri) is a tough and undemanding plant with delicate, airy flowers that last throughout summer and long into autumn.
Low-maintenance trees for structure and screening
Trees are generally low-maintenance plants, but some trees – such as fruit trees – will require annual pruning. Posy picked two trees that need very little pruning – one for structure and one for screening. Both the Lock-keeper’s Snipe and Rose Barn have enclosed square courtyard gardens, surrounded on three sides by the barn.
If you’d like to know about choosing the right tree for your garden, this post should help.
So Posy divided them into different zones, because both properties sleeps 12. As people are likely to want to chat and spend time together in small groups, there are three seating areas in each garden.
One seating area is placed to enjoy the morning sun.
A second seating area in both gardens catches the evening sun. To partly screen this and one of the eating areas, Posy used multi-stemmed amelanchiers (Amelanchier lamarkii). It has pretty white flowers in spring plus berries and glorious foliage colour in autumn. The leaf canopy is quite light, so it offers privacy with dappled shade.
Easy care self seeding flowers
Self-seeders are the easy, low maintenance plants, giving your floral colour without the work that annual plants involve. All you have to do is pull up any plants that have landed where you don’t want them. Posy has picked three exceptionally easy-going self-seeders. They are verbena bonariensis, erigeron and fennel. For more easy self seeders, see my post on 25 good self-seeding plants.
See more of the Lock-keeper’s Snipe garden in video
You can see more of the garden in this video on Low Maintenance Plants on YouTube.
You can book Chimney Farm Barns here. It’s in the middle of The Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve, an area of ancient water-meadows and home to many wading birds and other birdlife. You can watch the sun going down over the water meadows from a bench at the back of Chimney Farm Barns.
And see here for garden designer Lee Burkhill’s recommendations for brilliant low maintenance plants.
If you’re generally feeling overwhelmed by your garden, there are some tips here.
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