The third week of September is the time to fertilize the lawn, buy and plant spring blooming bulbs, continue to weed, water and mow and replace plants that give you grief, grow too big, grow ugly, don’t bloom or are growing in the wrong place. There is a lot to do in the garden this time of year – unless you plan for a more carefree landscape.
One of the secrets of being a lazy gardener that I’ll be sharing at a free garden seminar this month is to grow what you love and get rid of the demanding divas. (Learning how to water with less work, putting the right plant in the right place and weeding at the right time of year are a few of the other topics.)
Fall is a good time to think back on all the energy you spent on landscape maintenance and decide what you enjoyed doing, what you have time to do and what you can eliminate.
The Secret to Carefree Lawn Care: Let Your Lawn Go Golden
If high water bills and dragging around a heavy hose made you a cranky homeowner then consider letting your lawn “ go golden” or dormant next summer.
In our climate the lawn will green up again in the winter.
A dormant lawn also needs little to no mowing and you don’t have to fertilize at all in the summer months.
The Secret for Less Watering and Less Work: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Approach to Plant placement
Think of how a chocolate chip cookie is moist in the middle and crispy at the edges.
Now apply this concept to your landscape. The moisture loving plants and containers should be in the middle of the yard close to the house.
Crispy plants or those that can survive without extra water should be around the outer edge of the property.
This means that hanging baskets and thirsty pots of annuals need to be just steps from the water source because they will need frequent watering and you want to save steps. (Ignore that Fit Bit – on some summer days we should enjoy being a bit lazy)
Avoid small pots, clay pots and urn style containers with little room for soil – unless you enjoy hand watering and don’t mind the daily attention they require in the summer.
Plant tough plants such as conifers, natives and succulents around the crispy edges of your property so you can look at them, enjoy them but not have to drag out a hose or sprinkler and water them.
The Secret to No Pruning
It is no secret that overgrown plants and the need to hire professionals to keep them under control makes older homeowners consider condo or apartment life.
But there is no need to give up a large yard due to maintenance if you learn to landscape like a lazy gardener. Instead of large rhododendrons, hedges and fast growing shrubs plant dwarf evergreens near you home as foundation plants.
Plant breeders have come up with slow growing evergreen shrubs, well behaved groundcovers and now even dahlias that stay under 3 feet tall and never require staking. Many shrubs and trees have tidy shapes (look for varieties called “columnaris” that have tidy, narrow growth habits ) and you can enjoy years of neat and tidy shrub growth without needing to sharpen the shears or hire a gardener.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of “Easy Answers for Great Gardens” and several other books. For book requests or answers to gardening questions, write to her at: P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw, 98022. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a personal reply.
For more gardening information, she can be reached at her Web site, www.binettigarden.com.
Binetti is hosting a free seminar titled “Secrets of a Lazy Gardener” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 19 at University Place City Hall 3715 W Bridgeport Way W, Tacoma. Registration is not required.