Easy Gardening?
Make It Low Maintenance!

Hey y'all, welcome to the best secrets on this site! Easy gardening secrets! If you want to sit back and relax in your garden, THIS page is the one you need to pay the most attention to! 

This is a picture of my tiny garden at our Washington State Town home. It was about 600 square feet. 

Very, very small!

BeautifulSmall Garden Design

Now if you have been paying attention, you have seen this little garden before...in this picture...

Coral Bells in the garden are an easy gardening dream

And in this one....

Quiet Patio Garden

I've used them because they illustrated ideas, and because they are easy to get! But there is a wonderful quality to this garden that I truly love. Yes, it is beautiful for a tiny garden, and it has some neat plants...but what I love BEST??

It is EASY!!!!

I have lived in my town home with my tiny garden for seven years now. I can count on my two hands how many times I have had to weed it! Don't you want to know THAT secret?

Well, here it is, the secret of easy gardening.

Create a low maintenance garden!

There! That is IT! The secret!

Low maintenance gardening creates easy gardens! Seems anti-climatic doesn't it!

cactus varieties in axeriscape garden

Maybe you have seen "low maintenance gardens" like the one above in the past, but if you are like me, I don't like most of them much. Most have no persona...no glow, no jewel like gleam.

But a low maintenance garden doesn't HAVE to be drab.

That's just the "easy" way out.

With a little research, and little patience, and a bit of hard work at the beginning, easy gardening can describe your garden too, and it can be lush, green, and beautiful at the same time. Easy gardening is not easy...! But a little one time effort can net years of garden relaxation in your own delightful garden environs.

I'm am just going to present these ideas in lists for now, because I want you to be able to see them all in one place, but I have, and will continue to, dealt with these and similar subjects throughout this site. 

Here is a great list of important ideas that will net you a green, lush, and easy garden experience! There are also a few great plant ideas for you to get started with.

The Easy Gardening Preparation List

(the must dos!)

  1. Prepare the ground well - Rich nutrients create healthy plants.
  2. Use Mulch to keep weeds down - 3-4 inches of woody mulch does wonders!
  3. Nurture your plants with Compost - repeated applications of nutrients keep plants healthy.
  4. Add Watering Systems to ease day to day care - plan ahead and make your life easier!
  5. Cover every inch of open ground with plants - your weeds will have to move out.
  6. Use Hardscape to eliminate weedy areas - Less is more in low maintenance gardens.
  7. Add Garden Furnishings that bring comfort - If you are in the garden, you see the weeds when they start!
  8. Add Edging Materials to eliminate edging - Once a year edging chores! I promise!
  9. Use Raised Beds and Garden Structures to add interest - steal the stage during winter months with interesting structures.
  10. Use Containers for Seasonal Planting - annuals, bulbs, perennials with fleeting flowers are all candidates for pot planting.
  11. Add interesting garden ornaments to add personality - Easy landscaping at its best!
  12. Don't be afraid to help Nature along. Use Pre-Emergent Herbicides.

The Easy Gardening Abominations

  1. Rock Gardens - nooks and cranny's near rocks and in gravel make GREAT homes for weeds.
  2. Meadow Gardens - Yeah..they look good for a few weeks. THEN figure out how to make them look nice.
  3. Large Lawns - Lawns require mowers, mowers disturb grass, grass throws seeds, seeds sprout...the cycle of life, all in one garden!
  4. Formal Hedges - They have another name....maintenance!
  5. Roses or other high maintenance plants - beautiful prima donnas...they want all of your attention!
  6. Large areas of gravel - Dirt builds up in gravel over time. You will have weeds in rocks! Now that is not easy gardening!

Pick your Plants

The easy gardening shopping list!

  1. Concentrate on a few incredible plants - they provide the drama.
  2. Use Native or Compatible plantings - these are the backbone of your easy gardening experience. Native plants...guess what! they LOVE being in your garden!
  3. Plant for Longevity - flowers, seeds, foliage.. if they shine, your garden shines without effort!
  4. Plant for Garden Conditions - add plants to your garden that will thrive without your attention. That is easy gardening!
  5. Choose Plants for Structure and Habit - Steal the show when most plants are brown and limp by planning for exciting structure in your winter and evergreen plants.
  6. Use Evergreens - Evergreens are always green. 'Nuff said! 

Would you rather be on your knees weeding, or sitting in style in your garden? The Easy Gardening way is the only way. No more fuss. No more muss. Just an easy, low maintenance garden.

Hey! I think this is worth the price of admission....I hope you do!

Here are some great ideas for low maintenance garden plants...THESE will fill the bill for that easy gardening shopping list.

The Skelton List of Low Maintenance Plants

Common Name/
Plant Type
Maintenance Characteristics
Dig and make divisions every three to five years.  In between?  Easy Care!
Consistent water required during dry spells. Plant leaves must be allowed to die back prior to cutting.
Water and watch them grow! Leaves must be allowed to die back to nurture bulb.
Grape Hyacinth
Plant where spreading of bulbs is desired. Do not plant in areas where spreading is not desired. Nature takes care of the rest!
Does not thrive under other the shadow of other plants. Otherwise, a trouble free bulb!
Iris Varieties
Ensure that rhizome is planted so that it lies just above soil surface. Divide when flowers decrease (every 3-5 years in most situations)
Climbing Vine
Easy vining plant. Use care in siting. This plant can grow very large.
Fatsia Japonica
Evergreen Shrub
Must be shaded as direct sun will burn leaves. Among the easiest of plants to grow and maintain where hardy and shaded.
Little or no maintenance required beyond watering.
Blue Star Creeper
Plants creep to about 1 foot circumference. May need occasional trimming along paths or patio edges.
Baby's Tears
Yearly to twice yearly edging into desired areas. Then just walk away. Requires moist shade to shine.
Barren Strawberry
Little to no maintenance required beyond watering.
Creeping Phlox
Will grow just about anywhere if basic needs are met. Benefit from consistent watering.
Thyme varieties
The perfect plant! Nearly trouble free.
Vinca varieties
Rare occurrences of plant blight, root rot, or leaf spot. Occasional light trimming may be desired.
Occasional light pruning as desired to maintain shape.
African Daisy
Tidy growth habit. May self sow. Invasive in some climates. (check your zone!)
Some varieties can become leggy after flowering, lightly prune for shape, but do not hard prune this plant.
No mess, no fuss, hardy...this one must be the perfect plant!
Bleeding Heart
Plants benefit from occasional light dressing of compost.
Occasional light pruning as desired for shape. Removal of flower stalks may be desired, as they can detract from the striking foliage.
Calla Lily
Requires consistent watering. Bulbs do not like to be disturbed after planting.
Columbine may reseed under some conditions. Self sowing is easily managed however.
Common Fern
Trouble free plant. Stay away from bracken fern as it tends to become a nuisance.
Coral Bells
OK, maybe this is the perfect plant! Some gardeners prefer to remove delicate flowers after blooming, but this is unecessary as the spent flower is lovely.
Nearly impossible to kill, but well behaved. Cut back after flowering. Deadhead if desired.
Foam Flower
Do not allow roots to remain wet. Happiest in high humus soils. Very little maintenance.
Hakonechloa macra"Aureola"
Siting is important for this plant. Does not tolerate dry soil or root competition from trees.
Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill)
Plant compact varieties in small garden situations. Some varieties may become leggy and require cutting back.
Hosta varieties
Slug bait is critical in most garden situations. Otherwise a truly trouble free plant.
Lady's Mantle
Little to no maintenance required beyond watering.
Requires consistent watering. Too much water can cause crown rot. Taller varieties do need staking for best appearance.
Elegant Foliage most of the year; dies back in winter, taller varieties may require staking. Extremely long lived.
Occasional removal of single leaves that die back.
Rodgersia pinnata
Bait for slugs, otherwise nearly trouble free.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
Excellent plant which requires little attention. Broken leaves will create new plants easily if tamped into ground.
Shrub Rose
Requires occasional mulching for best health. Prune for shape.
Can be invasive in some climates. (check your zone!) Where it is not invasive, one of the most trouble free shrubs available.
Little to no maintenance required beyond watering.
Heathers - Calluna varieties
Occasional pruning as desired. Consistent watering required especially in first year.
Heathers - Erica varieties
Occasional pruning as desired. Consistent watering required especially in first year.
Prune as desired for shape.
Benefit from occasional fertilizer.
Japanese Barberry
Occasional pruning of a stray branch may be required. Otherwise a shapely and trouble free choice!
Prune as desired for shape, and to encourage dense branching.
Aphids can occasionally be a problem, but are easily eradicated.
Deadhead as desired to encourage next year blooms, but not required for plant health.
Sarcococca (Sweet Box)
Little or no maintenance required beyond watering.
Acer Palmatum
Small Tree
Some varieties occasionally self sow.
Evergreen Conifers
Water heavily in first year to establish.

Good Luck! and EASY GARDENING!

› Low Maintenance

Related Links

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Urban Gardening Style Guide

Garden Container Materials

Landscape Planning