Less Effort Gardening by Alison Marsden
You only need basic tools to start gardening but without them you will spend more time and effort. For example:
· Bigger loppers for pruning;
· Trowel and hand fork;
· Garden spade & fork for digging and planting;
· Or border spade and fork which are a bit narrower and therefore lighter.
Use the largest tool suitable for the job, e.g. dig planting holes with a spade not a trowel. If you have a large lawn then you need a large mower.
With weeds prevention is much better than cure as it avoids having to weed by hand or using chemicals.
Prevention can be achieved by:
Covering bare soil to exclude light and prevent weed growth, use:
Avoid bare soil by close permanent planting.
Make it easy to identify and remove weeds. Sow vegetable seeds in straight rows or use patterns in ornamental beds so it is clear which seedlings are weeds. Hoeing is quicker than pulling by hand.
Improve the soil condition and add organic matter to increase the water holding capacity of the soil and reduce water lost in free draining soil.
Mulch to reduce water lost through evaporation.
Use plants that suit your conditions and do not need regular irrigation.
Avoid lots of containers, they dry out too quickly and are less suitable for automatic watering.
Install porous pipe if you need irrigation; it's more economical than sprinklers.
Use permanent planting rather than seasonal bedding in most of the garden. Buy in a few bedding plants instead of growing from seeds or cuttings.
Plant close together and use shorter cultivars to reduce the need for staking.
Choose slower growing hedging shrubs and ones that can be clipped with an electric or petrol hedge trimmer.
Note: large leaved shrubs like laurel are better cut by hand.
Avoid high maintenance plants and features, e.g. topiary, pods and water features.
Plant flowering shrubs; you can have flowers all the year round for the effort of an annual prune and tidy-up.
Embrace informality rather than chaos or neglect. Allow plants to self seed and shrubs to spread a bit more. Let areas of lawn grow longer or even turn lawn into a meadow and mow it just once a year in summer.
Install lawn edging strip to prevent grass spreading into beds and the need to cut it back when you mow.
©Alison Marsden 2012
Alison is a garden designer who spoke to us in 2015 about ways in which garden design could create the maximum impact for the least effort. Here are some of her suggestions for minimising effort.
She has a number of other interesting articles on her website www.gardeningbydesign.co.uk