Easy Care Landscaping

There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of time spent maintaining a landscape. There are also ways to reduce landscape maintenance expenses. However, sometimes it requires some investment of time and/or money to renovate a landscape in order to reduce the amount of maintenance. Below are a few ideas and suggestions.

Lawn

The lawn is the highest maintenance part of the landscape because it requires weekly mowing most of the year plus fertilization, weed control, and sometimes pest control. In order to keep lawns green during July and August, they also must be irrigated regularly. Installing a sprinkler irrigation system is one example of investing to reduce time dragging hoses.

Raising mowing height to 1 ½ to 2 inches will reduce maintenance costs by reducing weed invasion and pest problems. Leaving clippings on the lawn is the equivalent of one fertilization per year.

Granular weed and feed and liquid lawn weed killers are very effective on broad leaf weeds, but do not control grassy weeds.

Ground Covers can be planted in areas where it is difficult to grow grass (shady areas, slopes, unusual shape areas. Ground covers can completely replace lawns with low growing plants which do not require mowing. There are some ground covers which will take a lot of traffic, however, none will take the amount of wear given by active children. Ground covers are more expensive to establish than lawns.

Trees and Shrubs

Creating beds around trees and shrubs not only reduces grass trimming costs, but reduces mower and trimmer damage. Two inches of bark mulch will reduce weeds by 90% or more. Weed barrier fabric (porous woven plastic) is almost 100% effective until weed seeds blow in on of the bark or other mulch placed on the fabric. Weed barrier fabric can be applied to already existing plantings as well as new ones.

Weed killers such as glyphosate (Roundup and other brands) can be used to kill existing weeds under and around trees and shrubs as long as you keep them off leaves of desirable plants. Casoron is a very effective, season-long granular grass killer and weed preventer. It should only be used around woody plants (including roses and raspberries). Trifluralin (Preen and other brands) is a granular weed preventer which can be used around flowers and vegetables. It lasts for about 6 weeks. Corn gluten is a natural weed preventer which reduces about 80% of weeds

Pruning can be reduced by replacing overgrown shrubs and trees with dwarf varieties which fit the allocated space. Sometimes removing crowded plants will leave enough room for natural growth of adjoining plants. Shrubs and trees can seldom be reduced by more than 1/3 of their normal height. And even this requires yearly pruning by a skilled pruner. Never “top” or stub off large branches of trees and shrubs.

Flowers and Vegetables

Flowers and vegetables require the most intense maintenance because of the repeated hand weeding. As mentioned above, weeding can be greatly reduced by using weed preventers and mulches. Other effective mulches for vegetables include grass clippings and newspapers. The drudgery of hand weeding can be reduced by weeding a few minutes early every morning when it is cool, and by timing your weeding so you are in the shade (weed west side in morning and east side in evening). Weeding is much more efficient while the weeds are small. Special hoes are available which are sharpened on both edges, which speeds up the process.

Perennial flowers do not need to be replanted every year. However if you have a perennial border with several kinds, you need to be able to tell the weeds from the flowers in the spring when they emerge from the ground.

Simple designs with one or two kinds of annual or perennial flowers are easier to maintain.

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