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Tricks for a Low Maintenance Garden

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Bare soil is the bane of the busy gardener. Leave it unfilled and weeds grow. Bare soil also needs a lot of tickling over (usually with a pitchfork) to keep it looking really good. The answer is to cover as much of it as possible, in the early stages by mulching, and later by allowing ground cover plants to knit together both above and below ground. If you like to see gaps between your plants, use permanent mulches to protect the soil surface. Choose either well-rotted organic matter to resemble soil, shingle (large grade is less messy than small), stone chippings, seashells, or other hard materials.

If you’ve inherited a garden that might have been someone’s hobby, but you don’t want to make it yours, plan some changes to make life easier.

- If there are too many borders, grass them over. Mowing is easier than maintaining borders and can be delegated to non-gardening family members or a contractor.

- If you’ve a very large garden, yet don’t want to move, have the top part near the house fenced, hedged or walled off in some way. Keep this tidy and turn the rest into a paddock. Plant a few good trees, surround with stock-proof fencing, and allow local horse or sheep owners to graze their animals there.

- In tiny gardens, a paved area with no lawn and plants in raised beds and containers will make life easier.

- Instead of apologizing for an untidy garden, create organized chaos, introduce log piles and more plants to attract bees, butterflies, and birds. Call it a wildlife friendly garden and everyone will be impressed.

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