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Keeping Maintenance Low

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With increasingly busy lifestyles, even keen gardeners find it hard to devote enough time to their garden. Here we discuss how you can create a low maintenance garden that still looks attractive.

The Challenge
Our client had moved to a brand new house, and as usual the garden was just a bare plot. The builders had already started laying a lawn but as we all know this means maintenance! The owners wanted low maintenance. We knew our solution had to include paving and gravel, yet still be interesting. You don't want just a sea of gravel.


Before - get rid of that lawn
 
After - relax at any time of year

Designing the Garden
We decided to create a large patio area outside the conservatory. This spot was perfect for the main seating area since it was secluded yet sunny. We positioned wooden pergolas to provide added privacy and to give the illusion of extra outside rooms. These in time would be clothed in colourful climbing plants.

A water feature close to the patio gives the sound of running water, relaxing throughout the year.

As gravel was to be used we wanted an architectural style of planting. This meant using structural plants, often with spiked leaves, as these are good for complementing stone.


Construction
The water feature was built out of brick. It is crucial that you pick materials that match the property, so we used the same bricks that the house was made from. The bricks are grey with the odd pink one to break up the appearance. A terracotta pot stands at the top of the feature, with water gurgling out into the pool below.

As large areas of the garden were dressed in gravel we had it supplied by a local quarry. When using gravel or stone in landscaping this is vital, as haulage will be the main cost, not the material itself. It is also far more economical to buy gravel loose rather than in bags from garden centres. Find your local quarry and check out their range.


Tips from the Design Team
  • Everybody hates weeding. Always lay a micro-porous membrane underneath gravel. Water can pass through it but weeds can't.

  • When using terracotta pots in a water feature, you can take steps to prevent frost from cracking them. Simply place a tennis ball in the water. If ice forms, the ball will take up the increased pressure by contracting - leaving your pot crack free.

  • If you build a wooden pergola, always use hardwood or pressure treated softwood. Untreated softwood will only last for 5 years or so. Pressure treated timbers should give 20 year protection against rot, insect and fungal attack. Get the merchant to provide a written guarantee for peace of mind.


 

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