You sigh with envy at the neighbor’s lush garden, but when you see how much time she spends digging, weeding, planting, fertilizing, deadheading, staking and pruning, you know it’s not for you.
Good news. While your landscape may not match the look of your neighbor’s, you can enjoy a pretty outdoor setting without being a slave to it. The key is selection, simplicity and strategy.
Selection: Choose slower growing, high-performing foundation plants that require little maintenance. Ask your nurseryman for recommendations on shrubs with year round appeal.
If possible, invest in some quality “hardscaping” like a brick walkway or stone retaining wall that will go a long way to create a handsome yet no-fuss appeal. If you want to augment the look with flowers, go for larger sweeps or masses of one kind of flower rather than an assortment of several kinds; it will have the biggest impact. As an alternative, install window boxes and plant them with tried and true annuals with a colorful splash: geraniums and trailing ivy or the newer cascading petunias are good choices.
Simplicity: If digging in the dirt is just not your thing, buy several colorful annual plants already potted up in containers and place them strategically in your landscape and at entryways. Use various sizes and try “tripod” style garden structures or shepherd style hooks that allow you to place pots at various heights in the garden for more interest. You can even bring in your own special containers and have the nursery custom plant them with whatever you desire, then pick them up when they are established in their pots.
Strategy: Decide exactly what you are willing to do in the landscape. Don’t over-estimate your enthusiasm for weeding and watering. In the spring, when the weather is balmy and emotion is running high, it’s easy to over commit. Remember that plants will need care when the thermometer reaches 90, too. Adjust your expectations realistically and you’ll end up with a landscape that looks good and doesn’t stress you out.