Updated: Sep 15
A year or so ago, I decided to tackle a landscaping project of my own. I had a yard with great places to put flowers into the ground–and benefit! I wouldn’t have to worry about mowing those areas. I’m not a fan of mowing–and I could do whatever I wanted in the yard. I decided to create a makeshift flower bed that wound up being 10 feet by 4 feet (roughly) and spent lots of time digging up the grass. Who knew that grassroots went so deep? I did all this work in the late spring and everything came up as it was supposed to later on that year, but man! It required a lot of work! I had to constantly weed as I wasn’t smart enough to put down mulch, and the summer heat just about killed me. I quickly learned why my grandmother gets up so early to tend to her garden.
I started this project thinking that the flowers I would be planting would be extremely low-maintenance. I didn’t realize how much work would go into a couple of flower beds! That made me realize that I had a misconception about what low-maintenance would be and that maybe other people would too. By now, I’ve learned that what I had been doing a year ago would be considered medium to high maintenance. The constant weeding, watering every day, etc. But if that is on the higher end of the maintenance scale, what is on the lower end? And what makes a landscape “low maintenance”?
Firstly, low maintenance is not no maintenance. That may seem obvious, but it is easy to think that since you have a landscape covered in mulch or rock that weeds won’t grow, and that simply isn’t the case. If weeds grow in concrete, we promise they will grow in your mulch-covered landscape. So light weeding is needed, but so is cutting the plants to the ground in the late winter or early spring. For example, Little Spires Russian Sage needs cutting to the ground around that time–whenever the first growth appears–so the plant can focus on the new growth and not the old. This also helps the plant to grow bigger the next year as well! There is also some light trimming of bushes required. Maybe more trimming if you want the bush to grow into a specific shape, but otherwise, a rounded bush can look like a madman if you let it grow without trimming it.
Now that we know what low maintenance is, let’s establish what a low-maintenance landscape would look like. I took the time to ask some of our professionals employed here at American Lawn and Landscape what they think low maintenance is, and their responses were very enlightening. Ethan McCook said, “Low maintenance for me is native plants. Perennials that can be cut off at the ground in February. Maintenance edges along the sides of houses that are 18 inches wide with either mulch or decorative rock and no plants ... [You] can also add plants that do not require a lot of shrub trimming/ minimal shrub trimming.”
Another one of our lead landscapers, Sherri Henson, said, “Low maintenance is landscaping with perennials and small slow-growing shrubs that thrive in Missouri and need very little pruning and care. They are drought tolerant and can take the heat. It might mean using rock to eliminate weeding.”
Below this article, we have attached one of our YouTube videos our expectations for maintaining your low-maintenance landscape. Using a simple spot sprayer such as Extended Control Roundup (link here) kills weeds as they are, but also prevents new weeds from growing. See the video for more information!
Here at American Lawn and Landscape, we believe that low-maintenance landscaping is using rocks or mulch to help prevent weeds from sprouting. Doing this also means no dreaded mowing or weed-eating during the summer heat. Low maintenance is using edging to prevent ground cover grass from growing into your landscape too. We use perennials because they come back year after year and only need to be cut down once during the winter or early spring. We use ornamental grasses, trees, and bushes because they also don’t require much attention. Ultimately, we believe in giving you More Free Saturdays, and low-maintenance landscaping is how we do it!