By Shaun Moser, Conservation Garden Park
We all want a landscape that fits our needs and is low maintenance. This can be a lot to ask from something with living plants that are constantly impacted by changing weather conditions. Because of the many variables that impact our landscapes, there are some basic things you can do to decrease main-tenance and help your landscape succeed at the same time.
The Power of Mulch
One of the biggest mistakes in any landscape is not having mulch, or not having enough of it. Mulch is the finishing touch to any planting bed. It acts as a weed barrier and moisture retainer. The absence of mulch causes weeds to have the sunlight they need to grow and become a problem.
Mulch can be organic (compost, wood chips, bark mulch) or inorganic (gravel, chat, crushed rock). The type you use is a personal choice. For best results, maintain a 3- to 4-inch depth of mulch.
One of the best ways to control plant growth and weeds is to control water. Too many landscapes in Utah are being watered inefficiently. Water is being applied to areas of the landscape that don’t need it. If spray heads are watering areas that don’t have plants in them, not only are you wasting water, but you’re helping weeds grow. It you cut the water off to the weeds they are going to have a harder time growing.
Applying water correctly is also important. Many planting beds (shrubs and flowers) are being watered as if they are lawn. That’s because they are either on the same valve(s) as the lawn or they are getting water from the same spray heads as the lawn. Planting beds should have their own valve, separate from lawn. They need significantly less water than lawn does, and if you are spraying the soil or mulch surface in planting beds you are bound to have more weeds. The solution here is to have lawn watered by spray heads on a separate valve and planting beds watered by drip irrigation on its own valve.
Phase your Projects
Trying to take on too much at once usually leads to frustration and a greater potential of giving up. If you plan to install a new landscape or remodel an old one, it’s best to take on small projects, one at a time. It not only saves your sanity, but it’s easier on your wallet. You can also apply this approach to the maintenance of an existing landscape. Instead of trying to tackle a large weed problem all in one Saturday, take your time and focus on a few planting beds at a time.
For more landscape best practices, attend one of our immersive learning classes at Conservation Garden Park. With each class, we pick a topic and demonstrate our recommendations for accomplishing each task in the garden. Our next immersive learning class will be on planting. For more information and to sign up for the class, visit conservationgardenpark.org.