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Garden - reducing the work

(60 Posts)
Esspee Fri 26-Feb-21 07:31:40

I know from experience that the first few days gardening after a winter layoff cause aches and pains but this year has been so much worse. I am only going to get older and less able so I really need to start making it less labour intensive from now.
Have any of you achieved this?
All suggestions (apart from concreting) welcome.

kittylester Fri 26-Feb-21 07:40:15

We got rid or our lawn, which was very poor any way and put in 2 patios with tiered beds between. Life is so much easier and we employ someone to put the garden to bed, wake it up again, do the hedges and any heavy work.

tanith Fri 26-Feb-21 07:40:20

I’ve put shrubs with some climbers in my garden with bulbs dotted around. I only put annuals in pots. The shrubs need pruning now and then but it is fairly low maintenance I just cut the grass and replant the pots.

Casdon Fri 26-Feb-21 07:56:04

I’ve got a big garden on a slope, and the only way to keep it under control is to mulch the beds. I’ve found that makes the biggest difference, because it was the routine weeding that was taking most of my time and energy.

Sparkling Fri 26-Feb-21 07:56:55

Lawns take so much time and energy, I dont want loads of hard landscaping spwish I knew the answer.. I looked in to having the front lawn removed and gravel and shrubs but the prices quoted were so high. For a smallish front garden one quote was £6000. I think shrubs and patios are the answer. It just the initial outlay.

Hetty58 Fri 26-Feb-21 07:59:34

I enjoy doing the lawns, although I've reduced the amount of grassy areas. I never dig over the beds, just stir the surface and/or add fresh compost occasionally.

Mostly, it's shrubs, grasses, perennials and ground cover. They come back every year and need a prune back sometimes. I have some annuals in pots, just like tanith.

My real problem is next door's horrible hedge (100 feet long, 15 feet high). I've covered most of the sides with split bamboo screening. Still, I have to scale a ladder to cut a few feet at the top - and the top itself - on my side. It takes several sessions every year, and many aches and pains, to control it!

CanadianGran Fri 26-Feb-21 08:09:24

Perhaps make a list of your chores and mark those that are too arduous. Think about ways to eliminate or alleviate those chores. Certain chores can be hired out.

Like others say, more hardscaping, annuals in pots, smaller shrubs that don't need too much pruning or dead-heading.

My DH does most of the harder work; the thing I find the most labour is getting cutting down perennials at the end of fall. Some of these can eventually be replaced by small shrubs.

Daisymae Fri 26-Feb-21 08:27:00

I get someone in once a year to do the cutting back. My borders are packed with perrenials so that weeds are surpressed and I am working on reducing the number of pots. Not successfully at the moment but it's an ongoing project. You think that pots are easy but they are hard work. Watering in the summer and then trying to hack out pot bound roots. Not to mention lugging sacks if compost. confused

Grammaretto Fri 26-Feb-21 08:28:09

Please don't turn your green gardens over to concrete. This is a cause of flooding because there is nowhere for the water to drain. It also removes habitat for all the pollinators (think food chain) .

Other solutions:
1) think about living somewhere without a private garden
2) offer to share with someone who doesn't have a garden.
3) Shrubs around a lawn are really very easy care.
4) Let your grass grow long.
5) have a meadow. I did this last year on part of my huge lawn so that it didn't look too abandoned. I was encouraged by a friend who is a retired Botanic garden's botanist. I pulled out the invasive weeds when I noticed them but was thrilled to see there were orchids and native wildflowers coming through the grass. You can sow yellow rattle to discourage the grass.
6) get an easy-care lawn mower. I have a battery one now and it saves the awful job of servicing and starting the big petrol one.

25Avalon Fri 26-Feb-21 08:38:26

Roses are supposed to be relatively maintenance free - unless you have deer who will over prune your roses so you don’t have any!smile

Be very careful about ground cover plants as they can be invasive. I have found yellow rattle to be one of these and also a vinca which has gone rampant, even growing up the acers.

If you can afford it get a gardener.

grannysyb Fri 26-Feb-21 08:38:52

We use permeable plastic weed supressant on our allotment, we couldn't manage without it. You can use it under gravel or chipped bark in the garden, it's saved us a huge amount of work. I'm 73 and DH is nearly 83, a friend recommended it to us , I think we would have given up on the allotment otherwise.

Esspee Fri 26-Feb-21 08:39:04

I was thinking of going for evergreen shrubs with varying leaf colour and shapes. By shapes I mean topiary. I have, over time, raised box cubes, cones and balls which are all in the front garden and give a nice formality and a look of a well kept garden even in winter.
In the back garden I have a couple of privet balls, one green one gold, again they give interest and a splash of colour.
I find clipping into shape therapeutic and it doesn’t have to be done often. I could use various coloured euonymus and hebes.
Problem is I have loads of perennials and the garden is always a blaze of flowers in the summer. It’s the raking up, the weeds and the splitting before they go woody which gives me backache and the couch grass coming in from next door. I may try to restrict flowers to pots as suggested
The lawn is my OH’s territory. I thought of replacing it with gravel but gravel is a wonderful seed bed and weeding is something I want to escape from.

Septimia Fri 26-Feb-21 08:48:23

I think, given the flooding problems and the environmental issues, that it's awful to change to a 'low maintenance' garden. Concrete and fake grass just add to the problems yet so many people have taken that route, as I've noticed when browsing the houses for sale websites

Lawns are relatively low maintenance if they just need cutting and there are plenty of people who do lawn mowing for a living - not all of them charge a fortune (and it's really only in the summer that it needs doing). Plants that need little attention with mulch or something in between to keep the weeds down look much nicer than decking and patios that fill the whole space.

There are plenty of more interesting and environmentally friendly ways of making a garden easier to manage, as all the suggestions above show.

M0nica Fri 26-Feb-21 09:08:45

It all depends on the size of your garden. making a 30ft square garden low maintenance is one thing. Making half an acre low maintenance is another.

My garden is 60ft by 150ft. I have gone for lots of shrubberies and bulbs (veg patch aside). They do need trimming, but this can be done slowly over Autumn-winter or you get someone in for a day to do it.

With modern lawnmowers, grass is not that demanding to cut. We have a motor mower at the back, but this year, partly because we have builders in, and partly because getting the big mower from front to back is hard work, I am buying a small battery powered mower to use on our quite small front lawn. We also have contractors who come in 4 times a year to weed and feed the lawn areas

Casdon Fri 26-Feb-21 09:16:49

I’ve just thought of something else that makes my garden a lot easier than it used to be- I got a rechargeable shrub and hedge trimmer last year. I’m too much of a wuss to try a big electric one, but this is perfect for shrubs, also jobs like cutting the dead stems off sedums, euphorbia etc. It saves loads of time and effort.

Grammaretto Fri 26-Feb-21 09:20:00

I should also say, I pay for 2 hours garden work each week. My gardener is a young woman with a qualification in horticulture so she knows how to prune. grin and has a strong young back.
Your garden sounds fabulous Esspee

I was rather sad to see when I last looked, how many gardens in cities have their front gardens turned over to a car space. My DB who lives in Denmark, has high raised beds in his and grows all his veg in his sunny front garden .
He has grown a beech hedge to screen it from the road but some of his neighbours have now followed suit!

shysal Fri 26-Feb-21 09:39:38

I changed my circular vegetable plot to a flower bed, with perennials and shrubs, underplanted with lots of bulbs. It is a bit crowded, but I can't see the weeds! I followed a neighbour's example of planting a couple of narrow garden forks to steady me as I pick my way over the stepping stones. With RA my ankles don't bend as they used to.
I also pay a local man to cut my steep lawn once a fortnight - £15 well spent.
Casdon, I too love my little Bosch rechargeable trimmer
Bosch trimmer

Grammaretto Fri 26-Feb-21 09:49:26

Yes the lightweight lawnmower is a pleasure to use. This is the one I bought.

Niobe Fri 26-Feb-21 10:21:25

Before embarking on expensive changes consider whether you might be better downsizing your garden. We decided to make ours low maintenance when we retired and made our paths wider, the lawn smaller, the patio bigger, the veg garden got raised beds and any shrub needing replaced was replaced by slow growing evergreens.
Then we moved house but the upside was that the garden helped sell the house to a pair of retired doctors who wanted to be near their daughter who lived nearby.

DillytheGardener Fri 26-Feb-21 10:26:02

I’m only in my late 50’s but I noticed that a back twinge and tennis elbow caused in the spring by digging, is still bothering me now. I’m watching with interest to see what other posters advise as I need to make some changes too.

DillytheGardener Fri 26-Feb-21 10:27:10

Grammaretto where did you advertise for your young and trained helper?

Alioop Fri 26-Feb-21 10:49:32

I'm getting my garden landscaped hopefully March/April and getting a lot of it paved. Leaving a small lawn for the dog , one long flower bed only with evergreen shrubs that don't need much looking after and then I'll do pots with annuals to save bending. I'm ok at the minute, but moved to my bungalow and have been renovating it to suit me as I get older as I live alone and have no family.

Gingergirl Fri 26-Feb-21 10:50:02

All of the above good suggestions and also arnica pills to suck a few times a day when you’re overdoing it in the garden really helps some people with aches and pains.

Theoddbird Fri 26-Feb-21 11:00:00

I detest seeing grass disappear. The reason there is more and more flooding is because rain has nowhere to go. Think hard before you remove your lawn....

pat9 Fri 26-Feb-21 11:00:52

Hetty58 your neighbour's hedge should not be higher than 2 metres. I have them on both sides - one at the front and one at the back and it annoys me that I have to trim other people's hedges!