What does a low maintenance garden mean to you? Horticulture Magazine columnist Meghan Shinn defines low maintenance plants this way:
- They let homeowners create a nice looking yard without much time commitment.
- They help beginning gardeners grasp the basics of gardening.
- They allow advanced gardeners more time to devote to more challenging plants in other areas of the garden.
A low maintenance garden has plants that return or look good year after year, which means they are hardy and do not require extra protection. Plants are planted in a good spot (i.e., the right drainage, moisture, soil pH levels and sun exposure). I would include multi-season interest as an important characteristic of a low maintenance plant and garden.
Disease resistance is another attribute for a low maintenance plant. Realistically, plants that generally are pest and disease-free may become more susceptible because of a particularly wet year and the introduction of a new pest, but generally, they don’t require much attention.
Meghan Shinn suggests several other attributes of low maintenance plants:
- They do not need staking, complicated pruning or frequent deadheading.
- They do not spread aggressively by seed or by stolons (underground stems), meaning they stay where they are put without intervention.
- They match your soil’s natural fertility, meaning they don’t need supplemental feeding.
- If they need dividing, it is only every three to five years.
- They do some sort of job to further reduce garden maintenance; for example, a groundcover that prevents weeds from growing