08 Sep Lower garden maintenance
Gardening is a super activity for strength, endurance, and flexibility – assuming you enjoy doing it. If you’ve never gardened and want to start, I say go for it. On the other hand, you may find you want or need to spend less time on garden maintenance.
Finding someone else to mow the lawn (family, neighbour, youth, landscape company) is one option. Or reduce the amount of grass that needs mowing, and the time it takes to mow:
– replace isolated patches of grass with shrubs or knee-high ground covers (knee-high to be taller than most weeds!)
– eliminate awkward corners and places where you have to back up the mower or change direction (change them into shallow curves and plant a groundcover to replace the grass)
– join isolated flower beds or trees or shrubs, so that you don’t have to mow around individual plants
– leave grass clippings on the lawn (mow often enough that you remove no more than an inch (2.5 cm) of grass)
– leave grass distant from the house un-mowed as a meadow (make it look intentional with a neatly mowed edge where lawn joins meadow).
I think it’s a toss-up whether perennial flowers or annual flowers are less work, so do what pleases you most. You can still reduce maintenance time in a few ways:
– reduce the size and number of flower beds (keep the beds you see most often, viewed from inside the house, where you spend time outdoors, and the view visitors have as they approach your home)
– replace annuals and perennials with flowering shrubs and vines (select plants that bloom at different times in the growing season)
– grow your flowers in retired vegetable beds, especially if you grow flowers for cutting.
Different fruits require more time and energy than others. The following list is from least time and effort to most:
– red currents
– black currents (need the oldest stems cut out once a year)
– highbush blueberries (they need netting to keep the birds off)
– hardy kiwi (choose small A. kolomikta, and not A. arguta which grows rampantly)
– grapes (need training, and pruning in late winter / early spring)
– raspberries (need all the old canes removed every year, and upkeep of support system)
– strawberries (require careful attention to weeding and management of runners).
The main strategy for reducing the time and effort to grow vegetables is to reduce the size and number of vegetable beds. Focus on growing your favourite vegetables, and replace part of the bed with a few flowers, lawn, other ground cover, soft fruits, or flowering shrubs.
I hope these ideas help you find the level of gardening that encourages exercise and also gives you a lot of pleasure.
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