Low-maintenance garden makeover


There are plenty of ways to make a backyard low-maintenance without compromising on style. According to Northcote Pottery ambassador, TV presenter and gardening expert, Melissa King, outdoor areas don’t have to be time taxing to be beautiful and enjoyable.

Melissa recently renovated a garden in Victoria for new mum Natasha to suit her needs as she lives with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that restricts her movement.

In creating the low-maintenance garden, Melissa reduced a portion of the lawn by installing an outdoor patio and in other areas replaced the existing turf with Sir Walter Buffalo Grass. This grass variety is durable, hard-wearing, low-maintenance and dry-tolerant. (Consult your local garden expert for varieties suited to your area.)

Melissa said while lawns are beautiful, they require a bit of work to keep them looking good, so it is worth limiting the amount in your garden.

For a fresh, sophisticated look, Melissa implemented a landscaper’s low-maintenance go-to: decorative pebbles and clean edging.

Here, the garden guru provides five top tips for creating beautiful, low-maintenance outdoor spaces.

1 – Plant purposefully

In a low-maintenance garden it’s important to choose the right plants for the right place.

For the garden makeover, Melissa positioned hardy shade lovers – such as Heucheras, Nandinas and Lamiums – in shadowy nooks. She balanced them with sunlight-loving succulents in bright areas. 

For splashes of colour, robust beauties such as Leucospermums, and shrubs with brightly hued foliage including Japanese Maples and Cercis, were planted in big pots, while on the edges of the property, was planted ornamental pears – Pyrus ‘Capital’, which grow tall and narrow with dense foliage, to help block out neighbours. They are hardy, fast-growing and disease-resistant, with the benefit of spring flowers and lovely autumn foliage tones.

2 – Lighten up

A challenge for Australian gardeners is combating the hot and dry climate. Although at times an afterthought, choosing the proper pots can save considerable effort, time and toil.

Light coloured garden pots better deflect sunlight and reduce the absorption of heat, so pots don’t dry out or heat up as quickly, reducing the amount of watering required. So, look for decorative pots in neutral colours, such as shades of white, sandy beige or washed grey.

For a smartly styled garden, use a variety of pots from the same set. Choose a range of sizes and shapes in matching materials and colours for an effortlessly chic look.

3 – Water wise

In addition to lighter coloured pots, adding water storing crystals prior to potting can significantly reduce the need for regular watering. The crystals absorb and retain moisture, then gradually release water to the plants as they need it. 

Melissa also recommends applying a wetting agent to the potting mix to ensure that water can soak deep into the root zone where it’s needed most. 

4 – Fab features

Garden features such as fire pits add a creative and functional element that requires minimal upkeep. Melissa recommends free-standing pits for ease of installation and operation.

5 – Screen time

Decorative garden screens help hide unsightly views and provide additional privacy to fashion a garden sanctuary. Screens offer a low-effort and low-cost alternative to re-modelling or planting additional shrubbery.

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