Low-Maintenance Flower Gardens

Discover time- saving design solutions and exceptional plants for creating easy-to-manage ornamental gardens.

| July / August 2018

  • Begonias are a multi-colored species that can reach more than 2 feet tall.
    Photo by Getty Images/artpritsadee
  • Bottlebrush is a spring-blooming shrub with gorgeous fall foliage.
    Photo by Pixabay/leoleobobeo
  • Bush violets are annuals that attract hummingbirds while repelling deer.
    Photo by Getty Images/camacho9999
  • A garden makeover can give new life and possibilities to a space, whether by adding lawn decorations or pops of color.
    Photo by Kerry Ann Mendez
  • Foamy bells 'Hopscotch' is an ornamental grass that can provide colorful and lower maintenence foliage.
    Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens; Inc.
  • From plant choices to design solutions, gardening's endless possibilities make it an evolving and lifelong passion.
    Photo by Getty Images/Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir
  • Petunias are a heat- and drought-tolerant plant that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
    Photo by Petunias Kerry Ann Mendez
  • Petunias will reach between 6 and 12 inches tall when fully grown.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/zigzagmtart
  • Crescent Garden's TruDrop System Self-Watering planters are a favorite for the author for lower maintenence flower gardening.
    Photo by Kerry Ann Mendez
  • Verbena bonariensis is heat- and drought- tolerant and doesn't aggressively reseed.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/stanzi11
  • Wishbone flowers can come in yellow, violet, blue, white, pink, and bi-color blooms.
    Photo by Getty Images/Kerkpun
  • Sweet alyssum sports fragrant, billowy white flowers that bloom right into fall.
    Photo by Adobe Stock/grthirteen

We’re busy; we’re aging; but we love gardening! Are you a gardener who doesn’t move at the same pace as you once did? Are you swamped with job and family commitments? Are you a city dweller with a passion for plants but little space with which to work? I bet you fall into one of these categories; I fit into two of the three, and I understand the need for low-maintenance gardens to accompany our lifestyles.

For years, I enthusiastically kept adding gardens to my landscape, but over time something changed. I felt as if I had become a slave to my gardens. Everyone loves flowers, but who can tend a garden that demands too much time and energy to look beautiful? And how do you incorporate environmentally responsible practices into this out-of-control picture?

Here are some of the steps I took to regain my sanity, shorten maintenance time, and renew my passion for gardening. Many more ideas are in my book, The Right-Size Flower Garden, where I detail even further how to create garden solutions that revolve around your needs and desires.

Say good-bye to needy plants. You can ditch plants that are too much trouble or have never performed well in the garden. Many of you reading this are women. We tend to be nurturers and caretakers — and that’s good — but we need to draw the line on needy plants. No more making excuses for troublemakers. Grab the shovel, pop them out, give them to friends or the compost pile (unless they’re an invasive species), and celebrate one less hassle to deal with.

Choose naturally native. Thankfully, native plants are becoming the norm in residential landscapes. Perhaps for some this is selfishly motivated, because natives require much less effort than foreign plants. Natives typically don’t need fertilizer, are drought-tolerant, are less bothered by deer and other munching critters, and are usually long-lived. Most importantly, natives play a vital role for regional wildlife and in protecting biodiversity. Many of the shrubs mentioned in this article are native to North America. For lists of natives regional to your part of the country, visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and The National Wildlife Federation.

Contain yourself, please! Container gardening continues its upward popularity trend. Consumer demand for user-friendly containers has propelled the introduction of stylish vessels that are lightweight, can be left out year-round, and have revolutionary self-watering systems. I am a huge fan of Crescent Garden's TruDrop System Self-Watering Planters. My flower-filled planter remains nicely watered for a full six weeks before I step in to refill the reservoir. Not only am I freed from the daily hassle of watering, but my plants actually look better — they are spared the stress of under- or overwatering. Just remember that a plant’s water needs will vary depending on container location.

6/28/2018 3:42:15 PM

It would have been helpful to give the zone hardiness of the bush recommendations. I am in zone 3B and it is likely that not all of these recommendations would overwinter in my growing zone.

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