Low maintenance flower Bed Ideas
- Suspended animation: Covering parts of your garden with light-blocking plastic sheeting stops weed seeds from germinating and halts the spread of perennial weeds. It’s crude, looks ugly, it doesn’t allow you to add compost/soil improver, but it works. I’m currently “resting” some areas under thick sheeting, previously destined for landfill. Held down by stones and overlapped by at least 1ft (30cm), it’s totally effective at seeing off thickets of couch grass and banishing bracken. When time allows I peel it back, section by section, and begin cultivating.
For now, wildlife wins: there’s a vole and slowworm labyrinth beneath the sheet, while damselflies breed in the mini-ponds that form on it in summer.
- Build your soil: Decommissioning parts of a garden for some or all of a growing season allows for soil-building. Green manures can be sown on bare patches from spring onwards as fast-growing, temporary weed-beaters (mustard, buckwheat) which last a few weeks, or as “leys”, where they last for a season or more. Fertility builder mix is a perennial mix of grasses and red clover (organiccatalog.com) which improves soil by boosting its organic matter. When the time comes, green manures are incorporated by digging them in, or by chopping them down and covering them with a deep mulch so they enrich the soil as they rot.
- Fruitful expansion: If your kitchen garden is getting too much, and you have fewer mouths to feed and less energy for digging, turn over more of it to soft fruit. Long-cultivated soil will usually be in prime condition, meaning long-lived, easy-to-grow soft fruits such as raspberries can go straight in (plant dormant bare-root plants now). The range of raspberry varieties means you can pick fresh berries from early summer through to the autumn frosts. Late-fruiters, such as 'Autumn Bliss’, don’t even need elaborate supports (leave the old canes to fruit the following summer, removing them once fruiting is over and the new canes start cropping).
Black, red and white currants are other good replacements for time-intensive vegetables, needing only straightforward winter pruning (and netting if birds are a pain).