For the past couple of years, I’ve been very keen on gardening and growing my own fruit and veg on my allotment. I think I was just so grateful to have any kind of outdoor space during the pandemic that I really appreciated our little garden.
It was during the lockdowns that we really started to do some work on the garden, adding raised veggie beds, planting shrubs and making the most of our patio with pots.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the garden bloom for the first time and it was such a relief to be able to grow our own vegetables and salad at home.
We’ve since increased our growing space with an allotment. We started small with a 1/2 plot and soon found that we wanted even more room for growing! We’ve now moved onto a full-size plot, with orchard trees, fruit cages and plenty of veg beds.
I’m thankful to have a garden and an allotment but it does mean a lot of work! With weeding, planting and general maintenance, it has started to take up a lot of time and when I go outside, all I see is a big to-do list.
So, I’ve started looking for ways to create a low-maintenance garden, so that we can focus on growing veg and still have a lovely outdoor space to enjoy relaxing in.
1. Avoid maintenance
The task that always seems to take the longest in the garden is general maintenance of the sheds, fences and decking. There always seems to be something that needs to be repaired, they’re the first things to get damaged in a storm and they continually need pressure-washing or painting to stop them looking dodgy.
After trying to clean part of our decking and realising just how long it would take, I think I would consider using composite decking if I was to install my deck again. Likewise the fencing – let’s face it, no one enjoys repainting metres and metres of 6ft high fencing!
So, if your budget allows, choose a material such as composite fence panels and decking boards, which don’t need sanding, staining, painting or treating – you can just install it and forget about it.
Most importantly for me, the garden will always look fresh so I can sit outside on my deck without mentally drawing up a list of maintenance tasks that need to be done before I can enjoy the space.
2. Avoid weeding
One of the things I really don’t like is weeds. I know the theory that weeds are just plants that are growing in the wrong place – but they seem to find their way into all the crevices in our paving and have spread all over the gravel driveway.
They just make the whole garden look tatty and unloved so weeding ends up being another thing I add to my mental to-do list whenever I look at the garden, which makes me feel stressed rather than relaxed.
So, I would recommend not laying patio slabs or having gravelled areas in the garden because, although it looks super-neat to start with, the weeds will probably find a nook to hide in and before you know it they will have covered the gravel, bark and edges of your stone slabs.
I like the idea of container gardening in order to prevent weeds. If you can plant up pots, hanging baskets and planters with your choice of annuals, perennial plants and herbs, you can easily keep on top of anything that starts sprouting where you don’t want it to be.
Plus, you’ll bring plenty of colour into your garden and attract bees and butterflies, which are lovely to watch when you’re relaxing on the decking without mentally scanning the space for jobs to do.
By the way, at the allotment and in our garden we have created no-dig beds, so that’s one less task to do when growing your own fruit and veg! I’ve shared a quick video on how to make a no-dig veg bed if you want to see how we did it.
Of course, some plants will need to be watered during these long, hot summers we’re having in the UK, especially those in pots, otherwise they will wilt and die. But, if you’re planting up the garden from scratch, you can select drought-resistant plants.
That way, they’ll make your garden look nice whatever the weather and you won’t have the daily job of watering them. Plus, this will help you to save money on your water bill and you’ll never have to worry when there’s a threat of a hosepipe ban in the news!
I’ve previously written about Zeroscaping the garden as this is a great way to cut your utility bills, so my garden is full of planters with Mediterranean herbs, pots of lavender and drought-tolerant cordylines in the flower beds.
What do you think of these ideas? Have you got composite fencing or decking in your own garden for a low-maintenance option? Would you choose drought-resistant plants to avoid the task of watering while cutting your bills? Let me know in the comments below and please share your tips for enjoying a zero-maintenance outdoor space, I’d love to hear your gardening hacks!
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