After a lot of false starts, I finally got into the garden this past week and started planting and digging. I just moved to a new house with a huge, blank canvas for gardening, so I’m taking a pro-active approach to making my garden as low-maintenance as possible.
That’s why I took a good, hard look at these six steps to an easy-care garden from Plant Savvy®, an e-newsletter by Monrovia (one of the world’s largest producers of container-grown plants). For more Plant Savvy ideas from Monrovia, visit Monrovia.com.
Plant ‘em and forget ‘em – Monrovia’s 5 steps to an easy-care garden
Gardening is a lot like cooking. Sometimes you want to putter in the kitchen all day, making breads and soups from scratch and creating the perfect meal.
But there are plenty of times when you just want delicious, healthy food on the table quickly.
Same thing in the garden. Spring planting is exciting, and you’re happy to spend a few weekends choosing plants and digging in the mud. But a few weeks later, you just want to have a nice−looking yard without a lot of effort. You want pretty flowers and foliage you can cut for an indoor arrangement and a chance to relax and enjoy your outdoor room.
No problem. Simply follow Monrovia’s six steps to choosing plants for an easy-care garden … just “plant ‘em and forget ‘em.”
1) Buy shrubs
There are dozens of dwarf shrubs that keep a neat appearance, and you won’t even need to do more than an occasional pruning.
Here are three favorites with year-round foliage color:
- Goshiki False Holly with five different colors throughout the year.
- Dwarf Globe Blue Spruce – a true-blue gem.
- Sea of Gold® Juniper – for a dazzling, bright pop of yellow.
Barberries are also a super choice for fascinating foliage, with colors ranging from yellow to pink and burgundy. The new Crimson Pygmy Dwarf Japanese Barberry is a deep crimson color and cold-hardy to Zone 4.
And for evergreen, variegated foliage and fragrant blooms, variegated winter daphne is stunning.
2) Opt for perennials
Ever seen that T-shirt that says, “Friends don’t let friends buy annuals?” That’s because annuals need to be replanted every season, and why perennials are preferred in the low−maintenance garden.
Lily of the Nile is one great choice, with its pretty, strappy foliage and a spray of purple or white flowers. Try Midknight Blue® for fabulous deep violet-blue color or Blue Storm agapanthus. Coneflowers are bright, cheery and easy to grow. These colorful natives attract birds and butterflies and make great cut flowers. Or, to add some complementary texture, try ornamental grasses. For stunning color, purple fountain grass is a can’t-miss pick.
3) Go for easy edibles
Planning a summer vegetable garden is tempting, but it’s also a lot of work. Opt instead for a simple herb garden, with trouble-free rosemary, thyme, bay, lavender and sage.
Or, try easy−to−grow edibles like raspberries – and if you’ve got acidic soil (or are OK with adding soil acidifier) – blueberries. Both of these shrubs will produce a bounty of fruit all season. Once established, fruit trees have a long life and reward you with your own organic fruits.
Pomegranates, figs, stone fruits and citrus have great ornamental value, too. Dwarf citrus, like the Meyer Improved Lemon, Nagami Kumquat or the Dancy Tangerine work well in containers, on the patio or indoors. Their fragrant blossoms are a nice, big bonus.
4) Think water-wise plants
Especially for your containers, water−wise plants eliminate countless hours of hand watering.
Yucca and cordyline are gaining favor for their bold, architectural structure, interesting foliage colors and drought tolerance. Try the super−hardy Golden Sword Yucca with boldly striped green and yellow leaves. Or, go for Festival Burgundy with glossy, reddish-burgundy, strappy leaves that contrast beautifully with bright green plants in the garden and containers.
Pick improved varieties Monrovia grows plants that are more disease- and pest-resistant, more heat- or cold-tolerant and tidier, with a habit that requires less pruning.
Winter Gem Boxwood, for instance, is one of the hardiest boxwood varieties. It takes on a pretty golden hue in the winter and then turns bright green in spring. If you love roses, try super-simple Flower Carpet groundcover roses. They don’t need deadheading and they produce nonstop color for up to 10 months.
5) Start your plants off right
Finally, make sure your plants go in the ground with good soil, compost and a layer of organic mulch. Not only will your plants be super-healthy and beautiful without much effort, the mulch will block out most of the weeds.
Well, I’m headed out again – to rake in more compost and shovel more mulch.
Have any tips for low-maintenance or easy-gardening? Send them along! I need them all!