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Saving Time and Money in the Garden

Saving Time and Money in the Garden

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Advanced Landscape Design November 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 10:00 AM-Noon with Larry Sagers

This course builds upon our Basic Landscape Design course. After completing your basic design, come learn how to incorporate advanced design and labor-saving maintenance features into your landscape.

We focus on using plants to solve problems in the landscape, as well as hardscape such as arbors, walkways and water features. Fee: $40.00

Registration (including prepayment) is required for the class. You may register for program sections online at or call Gretchen at 801-768-7443 or toll-free 1-888-672-6040 (select Education option) to register.

Saving Time and Money in the Garden

How about creating extra work for yourself? Would you like to spend more hours out in the hot sun, sweat a lot more, spend more for water, fertilizers, pest control and other sundries? If you are a glutton for punishment, stop reading. If, on the other hand, you like to save time, frustration and money read on. Here are a few secrets on how the experts do it.

Few people intentionally install a landscape that requires a great deal of maintenance. To avoid high maintenance, plan carefully. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The 80/20 rule. Like so many things in life, twenty percent of what we deal with causes eighty percent of the problems or takes eighty percent of our time.

This is true of lawn mowing, flower beds, weeding, pruning and most other garden tasks. The secret of reducing landscape maintenance is to eliminate those twenty percent of the problems that take eighty percent of the time.

Keep the term “low-maintenance landscaping” in perspective. All landscapes require attention. Plants grow and change. They are subject to problems. They need water, fertilizer and protection. Use adapted plants for a more enjoyable garden.

Design carefully. Landscape maintenance needs are closely tied to design. Some features in the landscape that are installed for aesthetics may conflict with low-maintenance goals. Make a compromise between an unimaginative landscape with least possible maintenance and a more pleasant, functional landscape with low-maintenance features.

Keep it simple. Simplicity is part of both good design and low-maintenance. Think twice before installing extra frills and accessories. Statues, water features, small odd shaped flower beds and other similar feature are not low maintenance.

Avoid overplanting. Each plant you put in costs you money, so make certain it has a purpose. Allow enough space for each plant to grow to its full size without constant pruning to keep it in bounds. It is very difficult and time consuming to keep large plants small by pruning.

Use several different types of plants to create interesting textures and colors in the landscape. Avoid using excessive numbers of varieties that give a busy, cluttered look.

Reduce the size. Although you cannot reduce the size of your lot, you can reduce the size of the intensively maintained area. Sweeping vistas are dramatic for public gardens, but home landscapes need to be more intimate. Keep the front landscape and the area around the home manicured. Develop a less intensive landscape away from the home by using low water use plantings that require less care.

Consider your time. Planting a large vegetable or flower garden is easy. It takes considerably more time to keep it weeded, watered and harvested. It makes far more sense to have a small, intensively cultivated and productive garden that one that is neglected and unproductive. Keep your planting to a size that fits your needs and lifestyle.

Group your plants. Scattered plants take more care than groups of plants. Hand edging and trimming around individual plants is very time consuming.

Defects on a single tree, shrub or flower may stand out and need immediate attention, while similar problems in clusters of plants may be covered by surrounding plants. Grouping plants also allows them to be watered correctly. Sprinkler zones can be created for areas with similar water needs.

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