As the season moves into autumn our gardens take on a distinctive charm that reflects the cooling of the days and the gentle slide into winter. Yellow, orange and red hues from deciduous plants take centre stage and provide what can be the annual highlight in the garden.
The resulting leaf drop can also be the start of a pre-winter tidy up with leaf piles to compost, pruning to be done and if you’re really into gardening the odd cutting to be taken. The layout of your landscape and the planting selection will determine the amount of work that’s required.
Most people are looking these days to reduce their garden maintenance, and a couple of tips may help you do this if you’re looking to cut back on the workload.
Firstly, reducing the area and depth of your garden beds and increasing your lawn area could be the right place to start. This may also increase the perceived size of your outdoor space as a bonus effect. Quite simply the less area of garden you have the less time you’ll require to tend to it.
If you don’t want to reduce area, try the application of a quality mulch to your beds. A good layer 75-100mm thick of a composted mulch will supress weed growth, retain moisture and add organic content to your soil as it slowly breaks down. If you have deep borders, pea straw will do the same job more cost effectively.
One of the most effective tools of garden designers to reduce maintenance is the use of a well selected evergreen hedge. Once established it will cover right down to the ground, and should only need 2-3 trims a year to maintain a well-defined form. Try Buxus to hedge a deep garden border. It’s been done for centuries for good reason – the defined edge draws your eye away from the work required behind it.
The key to hedge success is selection of the right hedging species. If you’re after low maintenance watch out for the trap of Teucrium and Lonicera. These both are vigorous growers that will establish quickly but then need regular and numerous trimming throughout summer to keep a crisp look. Corokia and Laurel may be better options with far less trimming required.