The Secret to a No-Maintenance Yard

Who doesn’t want a perfectly manicured yard?

Often times when I meet a client to discuss their landscaping needs for their property, I am met with a familiar request and gesture. If we are walking around the yard the client will stop, if we are sitting they will lean in and exclaim to me while making a waving gesture with their hand, we want a NO-Maintenance yard. To this I will usually reply, Great, it’s settled then, we’ll pave the yard with asphalt and paint it green. As my client stands (or sits) there with a look of bewilderment, I then explain, there is no such thing as a No-Maintenance yard.

For those of you reading this who were hoping to get the long sought after answer to your yard care woes, I’m sorry to disappoint you but it’s true. Just like a carpet needs vacuuming and a car needs oil changes, a yard of any size requires a certain level of care. Now that I have effectively burst your bubble,fear not, all hope is not lost. Although there is no such thing as a No-Maintenance yard, I can tell you how to create a Low-Maintenance yard. Here are a few tips that will help you spend more time enjoying your space rather than maintaining it.

1) Choose flowering shrubs over perennials and annuals. Shrubs require far less dead heading and clean up than perennials and there are several varieties of shrubs that flower all summer. Use annuals sparingly, perhaps in a pot or hanging basket. Perennials can be used insmall groups as accents rather than in mass plantings.

2) Use bark mulch not stone. Yes I know what you’re thinking; you never have to replace stone. Bark mulch does need to be top dressed yearly to maintain a 3–4 layer, but, it keeps weeds at bay and provides nutrients to the plants as it breaks down and helps retain moisture, cutting down on watering. It also does less damage to siding and cars when it gets caught up in the mower.

3) Watch your spacing. When installing new plants in your yard, pay attention to what the size of the plant will be in 5 years. Planting too close will make for unnecessary trimming a few years down the road. Leaving too much space between plants will allow for plenty of room for weeds to get a foothold. Ideally plants should be touching each other in about 5-7 years; this will create a full appearance without being too overgrown.

4) Skip the plastic edging. Over time plastic and steel edging products end up above ground due to frost heaving over winter. A better solution is to cut a hand spaded bed edge. Cutting a 3–4 deep edge around your planting beds will keep grass from invading it. Doing this once a year will keep planting beds looking crisp and neat and you won’t have to worry about sending shards of plastic edging flying into the lawn from the lawn mower.

5) Raise the mower. Unless you are trying to create a putting green in your yard, mowing your lawn too low harms the grass plant leading to bare spots, disease, pests and needless additional watering. Set your mowing deck at approximately 2 ½. This will keep the roots cool and encourage them to grow deeper thus cutting back on the need for water. It will also reduce the amount of times you need to mow and eliminate the occasional scalping of a high spot in the yard.

If the idea of green asphalt for a yard is unappealing to you and all of this advice seems overwhelming, consult with a landscape professional about ways to make your yard easier to maintain. Of course there is a way to have a No-Maintenance yard; you could always hire a landscape maintenance company to do the work for you.