Peppered Thoughts

 The familiar perception of plants is that the more you have the greater the work in looking after them. In fact it is quite the other way about. If you have a few shrubs and hardy perennials spotted about a border with a sea of soil in between, it is pretty apparent that you are going to expend a good deal of time in keeping the area clear of weeds. If, on the other hand, you structure your planting outline in the way we have suggested, with a top story of trees, a shrubby middle layer and then a carpet of low-growing ground-covering plants, then maintenance can be cut to a very low level.

Distinct features need more maintenance than others. A rockery or series of well-positioned rock outcrops tend to involve a relatively high level of maintenance as those pockets of soil can be rapidly populated by weeds rather than alpines. On the other side of the coin, an area given over to rougher grass, naturalized with bulbs and wild flowers can be a delight throughout the year with very little to do except three or four cuts with a rotary mower.

It would be inaccurate, nevertheless, to think that a complete carpet of plants eliminates maintenance altogether. You may well have to cut back invasive ground cover from time to time, as well as thinning out a border if it becomes overcrowded. 

These tasks, all the same, deplete relatively little time and in my own garden, which is of a reasonable size, I spend a maximum of half-an-hour a week on upkeep - and I relish it! In The End, give a thought to automatic irrigation. A hot summer can impart home just how essential regular watering really is, particularly if you go away on holiday. 

There are a number of low-priced irrigation systems available that are tailor-made for the domestic garden and it could be well-worth looking into these. Incidentally, they also use far less water than a sprinkler and are placed so that planting gets the maximal benefit. Do take a look at house plants and best houseplants for cleaning air.

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