Time saving tips for your garden

For many of us, the pressures of everyday family life leave little or no time to enjoy some of the things we most love. I love nothing better than getting outside in the garden for a few hours on the weekend – in-between taxiing kids around and catching up on housework!

But out of necessity, I’ve turned several parts of my garden into low-maintenance areas. It saves me time while sating my appetite for garden rather than concrete. Here are a few ideas on how to reduce the amount of work required in your garden so you can spend more time relaxing outdoors.

Drought resistance

Plan ahead to avoid hours spent watering and the angst of losing expensive or cherished plants once the dreaded dry horrors of summer reach our shores. Installing a watering system now will save a lot of time over summer, but as many of us are on a user-pays system, saving water is also big on the agenda.

So it makes good sense to plant those areas prone to drying out or difficult to water (steep banks etc) with plants that will tolerate extended dry periods. Cacti and succulents are the first that spring to mind, but there plenty of other suitable drought-tolerant plants.

oy favourites include: NZ native coprosmas, rengarenga, corokia and olearias; Australian kangaroo paws, grevilleas and banksias; oediterranean lavenders, rock roses, rosemary and thyme; and South African aloes, leucadendrons, Cape Daisies and proteas.

Ground covers & mulching

Cover every scrap of bare soil with dense, carpeting ground cover, thick garden mulch, or make use of weed mat and river stones to suppress weeds and save you heaps of time.

The odd weed may manage to penetrate, but it’ll be weak, readily seen and easily pulled out. Dense ground covers and mulches also have other positive attributes. They insulate the soil in winter, help retain moisture in summer, prevent soil erosion, and protect surrounding areas from soil splash in heavy rain. Ground- cover plants can also be used to create rhythm in a garden and to link different areas by repeating the same variety throughout.

Alternatively, several different varieties can be mixed and matched to create interesting colour and textural contrasts for added effect.

oy favourite ground covers include: Native creeping fuchsia, sand dune coprosmas, scented violets, lungwort (Pulmonaria), junipers, prostrate rosemary, thyme and pinks (Dianthus).

Easy edibles

Choose fruiting plants that don’t have fussy cultural requirements and select varieties that specify “disease resistant”. This saves time on constantly feeding and spraying – although feeding with a long-term, slow-release fertiliser every spring will ensure better cropping. When it comes to vegetables, stick to a small selection that will provide plenty of bang for your buck. Grow a few easy herbs as well – they might not save you time, but they will save you money!

oy favourite edibles include: Raspberries, rhubarb, mandarins, feijoas, lemons, limes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, beans, mesclun, basil, parsley, rocket, coriander, chives, sage and rosemary.

oass Planting

Fill spaces around structural and feature planting with blocks or swathes of easy-to-grow plants to reduce your workload by at least 75%! Choose hardy, reliable, long-lived plants and plant them slightly closer than normal to gain quicker results. Plants that remain attractive year round are ideal; however, you might opt for more seasonality in some areas with the likes of Flower Carpet roses, which look spectacular for at least half the year.

Mix and match several different foliage colours and textures, plus plants of differing heights for a more interesting result. Add in the odd accent plant, such as spiky cabbage trees or astelias, to avoid monotony.

oy favourites include: Daylilies, liriope, hen and chicken fern, clivias, grasses, Flower Carpet roses and iresine.

More top time-saving tips:

  • Research which plants grow best in your climate and soil.

  • Prepare garden areas thoroughly to ensure plants grow healthily and vigorously.

  • Avoid herbaceous perennials and keep your planting schemes simple and straightforward.

  • Add mowing strips around lawn areas to cut out the tedious lawn edging job.

  • Limit the amount of hedging – trimming hedges is very time-consuming.

  • Install an irrigation system or soaker hoses to cut down on time spent watering.

  • Avoid heaps of little containers that require lots of watering.

  • Plant drought-resistant plants in large containers.

  • Avoid high-maintenance water gardens.

  • Replace small lawn areas with paving or pebbles.

**It’s time to…

**1. Fertilise the entire garden with a slow-release fertiliser such as Tui Novatec. 2. Harvest silver beet, lettuces and other salad greens regularly. 3. Spray weeds before they flower and set seed. 4. Divide old clumps of perennials before new growth starts. 5. Watch for bud burst of stone fruit and spray with copper to prevent curly leaf disease.

Related stories

Get The Australian Woman’s Weekly NZ home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.