For those who have difficulty finding the time or enthusiasm for gardening, or for those who are older or have disabilities which mean that they simply do not have the physical ability to look after a traditional garden, one of the first things that springs to mind is to simply pave the whole thing over! However, there are better ways to have a neat and tidy garden that requires very little maintenance. Keeping it simple is always a good rule of thumb for the reluctant gardener, avoid clutter and ensure easy access to reduce time spent on maintenance. Obviously exotic topiary sculptures and fine lawns are out, but this does not mean a low maintenance garden has to be a bland or dreary garden. You can design a garden to keep gardening tasks to a manageable level by deciding on which features or functions are most important to you. If you find a part of the garden is not terribly important to you but requires frequent maintenance, then you can think about getting rid of it! On the other side of the coin you don’t need to get rid of everything that requires work, for example if growing your own vegetables is a high priority, then even though growing veg can be labour intensive, it is possible have a smaller veg patch that will meet your needs, perhaps using a raised bed or even container gardening on a maintenance free patio!
We love our lawns in the UK, but there is no getting around the fact that they need a lot of looking after. There are steps you can take to minimise the upkeep, for example replacing fine turf with a turf mix to reduce the aerating, scarifying, feeding and mowing required, using permanent edging that will reduce the need for hand edging, hiring a professional lawn maintenance company, laying artificial turf, plus you can remove any small fiddly areas which are difficult for manoeuvring mowers. However, for some, lawns will be too labour intensive so there may be no choice but to replace some or all of your lawn with an easier alternative such as gravel, decking, paving or bark.
Another labour intensive and unpopular garden job is weeding. Much of the routine garden work will involve weed control so it makes sense to replace some or all perennial beds with shrubs which can be planted through a weed-suppressing membrane covered with an attractive mulch. Once established and covered, it may be several seasons before weeding is required in these shrub beds and even then weed seedlings are unlikely to get a hold in the mulching material and any hardy weeds that do can be easily be removed. If you love plants but really hate weeding, then potted plants on decking or paving could be the answer. Also when choosing plants avoid those which require regular or intensive pruning. Fast growing plants are best but beware of plants which will outgrow their place and swamp your garden without regular pruning. Popular low maintenance plants include the potato vine and passion flower, both of which are climbers that will keep some of their leaves over winter. Large, distinctive plants such as New Zealand flax, ornamental grasses or bamboos in containers can create stunning focal points with little maintenance required.