Plants for zone 6

Grow a Great Cutting Garden

The profusion of blooms that fills the Cutting Garden flower farm and gardens on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is so thick and colorful that it practically glows in the bright summer sun. Foxtail lilies stand tall over peonies and poppies; callas and columbines spill out into broad gravel paths; roses and clematis ramble over arbors and climb trees.

In the middle of it all stands the owner, cut-flower maven Catherine Mix, pruning knife in one hand and nosegay in the other. Behind her, fresh flowers suck up water in tall buckets on the shaded porch that wraps around her big yellow farmhouse. A garden wedding is coming up ― one of 35 here this summer ― and Catherine is making the bouquets.

All this was unimaginable a dozen years ago, when Catherine and her husband, Tom, still lived in Issaquah, Washington, and worked at Boeing. “I just grew the basics then,” Catherine says ― a few dahlias, peonies, and rhododendrons. “I’d always loved flowers, and sold dahlias at my flower stand. But I had no idea what lay in the future.”

When the couple built the farmhouse, located on 24 windswept acres of former horse pasture in Sequim, they decided to grow their flower business as well. Catherine knew she wanted low-maintenance plants that would create a succession of blooms from May through October, and that the design would need to accommodate the dahlias, rhododendrons, and peonies she’d rescued from her previous garden. But which new flowers to grow? And how to combine them with her old favorites?

John Granen Fragrant ‘Lollipop’ Asiatic lily with blue delphinium.

Designing By Color Zones

To avoid the “confetti” look that comes from mixing together too many flower colors, garden designer Sharon Nyenhuis came up with a design scheme that combined plants with similar bloom colors ― yellows, blues, and whites near the house, hot-colored flowers farther away, and a lawn and an all-white garden serving as a visual buffer between the two areas.

In her hot-colored garden, Catherine uses dahlias to mark the transition between the different-hued plantings. For example, where orange and yellow sections meet, she backs the orange section with orange dahlias that have yellow highlights, and the yellow section with yellow dahlias that have orange highlights.

Flower Garden Care

A system of drip tubing, soaker hoses, and low-volume overhead sprinklers keeps plants well irrigated during Sequim’s dry summer. At season’s end, healthy plant debris goes into giant compost piles, and diseased plants are discarded separately.

Every winter, the couple spreads a 3-inch-thick mulch of composted dairy manure over all the beds to fertilize the soil and smother weed seeds. Then the Mixes get a few weeks to relax, recharge, and plan for even more profusion the following year.

John Granen A fresh-cut bouquet combines pink asters lavender delphiniums delicate pink spikes of Psylliostachys suworowii blue false sea holly Eryngium planum purple statice and blue scabiosa.

How to Help Cut Flowers Last

Keeping cut flowers fresh for weddings is especially demanding; they have to look good through a couple of hours of photography, as well as the wedding and reception. The key is proper hydration, says Catherine Mix.

Here’s her system for making cut flowers go the distance:

  • Harvest flowers two days before the event, and choose blooms that are about three-quarters open. Do it early in the day while the air is still cool; plunge the stems immediately into a bucket of cool water.
  • Recut stem ends under water, then keep stems immersed in a bucket of water for 24 hours in a cool, shaded place. Use water alone or add a drop of bleach to keep it clean longer. If you’re working with hollow-stemmed flowers such as dahlias or mignonette, invert them one at a time, fill the stem with water, stop up the end with your finger, then plunge the stem upright back into the bucket.
  • Arrange flowers in a water-filled vase for maximum life. Or arrange them in floral foam, which provides more design control but sacrifices some vase life.

Favorite Cut Flowers

Several of Catherine Mix’s preferred long-lasting blooms are listed below.

Early-summer bloomers
Asiatic lilies, callas, columbine, foxtail lilies, peonies.

Blues
Catmint, clematis, delphiniums, peach-leafed bluebell, Siberian iris.

Whites
Dame’s rocket, Verbascum bombyciferum ‘Silver Lining’ (in bud), Nicotiana x sanderae ‘Fragrant Cloud’, roses, white valerian.

Yellows
Bronze fennel, columbine, Phlomis russeliana.

Fragrant flowers
Anise hyssop ( Agastache foeniculum), mignonette ( Reseda odorata), nicotiana, old-fashioned roses, Oriental lilies, sweet peas.

Fillers
Chamomile (before bloom), fennel (flowers), lady’s-mantle, Euphorbia characias wulfenii and E. polychroma (in the garden only; euphorbia’s milky white sap is irritating on contact).

Self-sowers
Baby blue eyes, columbine, mullein, poppies, valerian, Verbena bonariensis.

10 Easy-to-Grow Plants for First-Time Gardeners

Gardening is more than a hobby. The act of cultivating veggies for your dinner table and flowers for your lawn has numerous health benefits. Research has indicated that regular gardeners are less likely to suffer from heart attacks or come down with Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, spending time with your backyard crops is an excellent way to relieve stress. Now that spring has sprung, why not get your hands dirty? If you’re new to the game, here are 10 tough plants that you won’t need a green thumb to take care of.

1. PANSIES

These hardy flowers are tough to kill—in most areas of the United States, pansies are resilient enough to survive winter temperatures. More than 300 varieties of pansies exist, including several that have been specifically bred for really hot or really cold environments.

The ideal time to plant pansies is when the soil temperature is around 50 to 60 degrees (August for the northern parts of the country to October in the southern), but you can also set yours out in the early spring. Fully-grown plants can be purchased at most gardening stores and deposited directly into the ground. If you plan on growing some from seeds, deposit each one in moist soil spaced 7 to 12 inches apart. In colder states, pansies do best in direct sunlight, but if you live in a warm state like Georgia or Texas, give the flowers some shade and strategically plant them so that they can spend three to four hours in the shadows per day and see that they get an inch of water each week.

2. TOMATOES

iStock

According to the National Gardening Association, nearly nine out of 10 American household vegetable gardens have at least one tomato plant. Germinating tomato plants need a constant soil temperature of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and seeds should be planted six to eight weeks before your area’s projected last frost date. Given these requirements, you’ll most likely have to start indoors (or buy tomato plants from your local garden center).

First, you’ll need one container for every two seeds. (While it’s possible to raise all of the seeds in the same pot, this makes the young plants harder to remove when the time comes to transplant them.) Plastic or Styrofoam cups work well; make a couple small holes in the bottom of each one for drainage and fill it with a good potting mix. Then, place the seeds about a quarter of an inch beneath the surface. Mist the dirt with water (make it moist, but not soggy) and maintain a constant 70 to 80-degree room temperature, and within 10 days, the little plants will sprout. They’ll need plenty of sunlight; if possible, put the plants by a south-facing window or, in windowless homes, use artificial grow lights.

As soon as the plants sprout four leaves apiece, move them into bigger containers; pots with a height of 4 to 6 inches will be perfect. Meanwhile, find a nice, sunny section of your garden outside. One week before the last frost date, till the soil until it’s nice and loose. Then, dig a trench about 6 or 8 inches deep. After the last frost date finally arrives and the dirt has warmed, throw in 3 inches of compost. Cover that with some extra soil and then transplant your seedlings there.

Like pansies, tomatoes come in many varieties which offer fruits of every shape and size. Depending on what kind you’re growing, you’ll want to arrange the young plants anywhere from 12 to 48 inches apart. Consult the seed package or a neighborhood gardening store for an exact number. By the way, novice gardeners may want to choose varieties that yield smaller fruits (like cherry tomatoes). If left to their own devices, medium or large fruits may rot prematurely. Preventing this will require tethering your plants to stakes or cages for support. That’s not too difficult, but it is an extra step.

3. BASIL

Tomatoes and basil make for a great combination in spaghetti sauces, and in your garden, the two plants may help each other grow. According to many amateur and professional gardeners, basil serves as a natural bug repellent that drives off unwanted insects that might otherwise eat the herb—or munch on your tomato fruits; some speculate is that planting the two near each other somehow gives the tomatoes a much better flavor. Garden-raised basil needs plenty of sunlight and should be arranged accordingly. Plant the seeds at least 12 inches apart six weeks before the last frost comes along. Water them lightly whenever the soil feels dry and you’ll have a healthy plant that will keep giving you delicious leaves all summer long. Mangia!

4. MINT

Another hardy herb, mint is ridiculously easy to grow. In fact, mint does so well outdoors that the biggest challenge associated with it is keeping the plant from taking over your whole garden. But before we get into that, let’s talk logistics. Mint needs damp soil with good drainage, and it tends to do best when kept in an area that receives a moderate amount of shade during the day.

Under favorable conditions, the herb’s specialized stems—known as “runners”—shoot out in all directions. Left unchecked, the runners will devour every inch of available real estate, sometimes conquering entire lawns in the process. For this reason, many people grow their outdoor mints in clay pots from which the roots can’t escape. But if you want to put yours in a multi-species garden, plant it on the inside of a long, tubular container with an open bottom and thick walls. An 18-inch metal stove pipe buried vertically with its uppermost inch poking out above the surface would be perfect. Patio edges and driveways can also be effective root barriers.

5. SUNFLOWERS

Whether you’re hungry for their seeds or just like to look at them, sunflowers are a terrific choice for first-time gardeners. They don’t need much in the way of fertilizing, they can thrive in all but the soggiest soils, and they’re extremely adept at weathering droughts. As the common name implies, these flowers do require direct, unimpeded sunlight. Plant yours out in the open, and be sure to keep them a fair distance away from any other plants you might be cultivating, as a row of tall sunflowers can throw unwanted shade onto neighboring veggies. To get started, wait until the last frost date has passed in the spring and then plant your seeds in 1-inch holes. For best results, space these at least 6 inches apart—or, if you’re dealing with a larger species, up that figure to 24 inches. Water well after planting.

6. RADISHES

An ideal cool-weather crop, radishes develop spicy bulbs during the chillier months of spring and autumn. Arrange the seeds at least an inch apart in half an inch of loose, moist, and well-lit dirt. They’ll grow fast: Certain radishes may be ready for harvest just 22 days after planting, although other varieties may need up to 70. Once yours begin sprouting leaves, thin out the rows by plucking every other radish. A new row may be planted in early spring or late summer, depending on when you plan to dig yours up and eat them.

7. POTATOES

The average American eats roughly 114 pounds of them per year . With spud cultivation, you don’t have to worry about planting seeds. Instead, the objective here is to find a potato tuber that’s grown a few buds that are around one quarter to one third of an inch in length. Cut the potato into chunks, leaving at least one bud on each segment. Before you move on from there, store these wedges indoors at room temperature for 48 to 72 hours.

If you’ve got a lot of space to work with, potatoes can be grown in vast rows across your backyard. (For instructions on how to do that, go here.) But if space is limited, potato plants can be cultivated in bottomless half-bushel baskets. Alternatively, as Janice Stillman of the Old Farmer’s Almanac explains in the above video, a trash can with some holes drilled into the base also make for effective containers. In any event, you’ll need to start out shortly after the last spring frost. Take your barrel or basket and place it in a sunny locale. Fill it with loamy potting soil and bury the chunks 2 to 4 inches beneath the surface. Give them an inch of water every week and they’ll be ready to harvest by midsummer. Home-made French fries, here we come!

8. SPINACH

Popeye’s favorite food is one of the best cold-weather crops a gardener could ask for. Four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area, you’ll need to kick things off by following a process called priming: Soak some seeds in water for 24 hours. Take them out and let them dry off on a paper towel for a day or two, then seal up the seeds in an airtight zip-lock bag and keep them in a cool room for up to one week. When their week-long stint in a cool room is up, sow the seeds in an inch of tilled soil that has a temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can start harvesting your spinach leaves whenever they reach the desired size.

9. MARIGOLDS

As far as flower-growing is concerned, marigolds definitely fall into the idiot-proof category. Wait to plant their seeds until after the spring frosts have come to an end. Just about any bedding type will suit them, although moist, well-drained soils are preferable. Marigold enthusiasts usually get their seeds by purchasing them in packets, which come with specific instructions about spacing and other topics. Cover the seeds with a small amount of dirt, don’t let the soil get too dry, and uproot some of the seedlings as needed. In exchange for this minimal effort, you’ll get vibrant flowers that will stick around until football season.

10. ZUCCHINIS

Not only are zucchinis super easy to grow, they’re also amazingly prolific. Within a few short weeks, your garden will be churning out enough to feed a small army. To get going, dig a row of inch-deep holes in the earth at some point between early spring and midsummer (although in practice, one or two plants will probably be enough). The depressions should be spaced about 3 feet apart, with each crater housing two or three seeds. Make sure the dirt is warm and keep it moist at all times (regular mulching will help you with that). Six to eight weeks later, you can start harvesting. And because new zucchinis sprout to replace the squashes that’ve been plucked, you’ll soon have quite a yield on your hands. Within a single season, a solitary plant can generate 10 pounds’ worth of zucchinis.

All images courtesy of iStock

The 7 Easiest Plants to Grow Indoors and Outdoors

Wise Bread Picks

The benefits of growing plants, whether inside or out, are numerous. Plants freshen and detoxify the air inside your home while offering the added benefit of improving the decor of a room. Gardening outside, meanwhile, can provide therapeutic benefits to the grower. The time spent working in the outdoors with the dirt and in the sunshine can rejuvenate the body and clear the mind. (See also: 10 Gardening Lessons)

For those of us who would like to experience the wonderful benefits of growing plants but feel intimidated to start, here’s a list of seven easy-to-care for plants for your inside your home and out.

Outdoor Plants

Spruce up your backyard or add a little color to your entryway with these no-fuss outdoor plants.

Petunia

Petunias come in a variety of colors including white, pink, purple, and many colors in between. They spread quickly on the ground and fill a container beautifully, as well. They can go more than a day without water unless it is excessively dry, and they flower throughout the growing season without needing extra fertilizer. Deadheading (plucking off dead blooms from their stems) does not need to be done for them to re-flower, making this a very easy plant to grow through the spring and summer. (See also: Easy Veggies to Plant in Spring)

Coneflower

Like the petunia, coneflowers come in a wide variety of colors. This tough plant is native to the prairie, so they are hardy in the heat and the wind. They require regular watering and deadheading to encourage reblooming. They have the added benefit of attracting butterflies to the garden, as well. Coneflowers are a perennial plant and will return the following year if you cut them back to the base just before spring arrives.

Hosta

Hostas are the perfect plant for shaded areas of your garden. These hardy plants come in many varieties with many different shades of green, white, and even purple on their leaves. These plants can be split and replanted, cut back to deter overgrowth, and even neglected. They can tolerate heat if they are at least partially shaded and watered regularly.

Peony

Peonies thrive if left alone. These perennials are a great addition to a flower bed that receives full sun. Peonies may need to be staked if they get top heavy (and that should be done early in the spring), but otherwise, they can be left alone to grow. Regular watering when the weather dries will ensure that you have blooms well into the heat of the summer. (See also: Saving on Summer Garden Flowers)

Indoor Plants

If outdoor gardening space is at a premium where you live or you want to freshen up the inside of your home, adding these low-maintenance indoor plants are sure to brighten your day. (See also: The Container Garden Guide)

Chinese Evergreen

Don’t let the name fool you; this isn’t a small Christmas tree. The Chinese Evergreen is a plant with varying shades of green, white, and silver leaves. This plant likes low to medium light, which makes it perfect for apartments and rooms without direct sunlight. It can grow to three feet high and wide. This beautiful indoor plant should be kept moist. Like many other indoor plants, it does have poisonous leaves, so care should be taken to keep it away from children and pets.

Spider Plant

Spider plants are probably the plant you think of most when you picture an indoor plant. This easy-to-grow plant thrives inside in medium to bright light. It trails and shoots off new growth, called “plantlets” at the ends that root well in water to make new plants. The Spider Plant works well as a hanging plant and is not toxic to cats. It also has the added benefit of cleaning the air in your home by removing formaldehyde. (This harmful chemical is found in particle board, wood furniture, and insulation.)

Dracaena

There are many varieties of Dracaena that work well indoors. The “Janet Craig” has bright green leaves while the “Warneckii” has green and white leaves. In addition, the “Massangean” has yellow and green leaves that resemble a corn stalk. Regardless of the variety, dracaena grows well in medium to bright light making it a great addition to a bright room in your home. (If you are fortunate, these blossom once in a while. We had one blossom just once, and they were among the most amazingly fragrant and beautiful flowers we had ever seen!)

Whether you are looking to beautify the landscape of your home, the decor of your rooms, or filter the air inside, growing plants need not be intimidating. Many plants are easy to grow, require very little maintenance and will return year after year!

What are your favorite low maintenance plants? Please share in comments!

Zone 6 Growing Tips: What Are The Best Plants For Zone 6

If you’ve done any reading about gardening, you’ve probably noticed USDA plant hardiness zones again and again. These zones are mapped across the U.S. and Canada and are meant to give you a sense of which plants will thrive in which area. USDA zones are based on the coldest temperature an area tends to reach in the winter, separated by increments of 10 degrees. If you do an image search, you’ll find countless examples of this map and should be able to find your own zone easily. That being said, this article focuses on gardening in USDA zone 6. Keep reading to learn more.

Growing Zone 6 Plants

Basically, the lower a zone number is, the colder that area’s weather is. Zone 6 usually experiences a yearly low of -10 F. (-23 C.). It stretches in something like an arc, more or less, across the middle of the U.S. In the northeast, it runs from parts of Massachusetts down into Delaware. It stretches south and west through Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, and even parts of New Mexico and Arizona before turning northwest up through Utah and Nevada, ending in Washington state.

If you live in zone 6, you may be scoffing at the idea of lows like this because you’re used to warmer or colder temperatures. It’s not at all foolproof, but it’s a very good guideline. Planting and growing zone 6 plants typically begins around mid-March (after the last frost) and continues through mid-November.

Best Plants for Zone 6

If you look at a seed packet or information tag on a plant, it ought to have a USDA zone mentioned somewhere – this is the coldest area that plant is likely to survive in. So can all zone 6 plants and flowers survive temperatures down to -10 F (-23 C.)? No. That number tends to apply to perennials that are meant to survive the winter.

Plenty of zone 6 plants and flowers are annuals that are supposed to die with the frost, or perennials meant for a warmer zone that can be treated as annuals. Gardening in USDA zone 6 is very rewarding because so many plants do well there.

While you may have to start some seeds indoors in March and April, you can transplant your seedlings outside in May or June and experience a long, productive growing season. The best plants for zone 6 that can be sown outside as early as March are cold weather crops like lettuce, radishes, and peas. Of course, many other vegetables perform well in zone 6 too, including common garden varieties of:

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers

Perennial favorites that thrive in this zone include:

  • Bee balm
  • Coneflower
  • Salvia
  • Daisy
  • Daylily
  • Coral bells
  • Hosta
  • Hellebore

Common shrubs known to grow well in Zone 6 are:

  • Hydrangea
  • Rhododendron
  • Rose
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Azalea
  • Forsythia
  • Butterfly bush

Note that these are just some of the plants that grow well in zone 6, as the variety and flexibility this zone offers makes the actual list quite long. Check with your local extension office for more information on specific plants in your area.

Shrubs For Zone 6

My Garden Zone Is

Narrow Selection

Shrubs for Zone 6 have many benefits for a home

Shrubs For Zone 6

There will be a significant increase the value of your home. Adding value to your property is a concern for families that plan on later selling the park for a bigger or better house, and now you’ve found the perfect solution. Beyond looking great, small border plants can also cleverly hide any part of your yard you wish to remain unseen by the public.

Shrubs for Zone 6 help to create privacy with neighbors

Privacy is one of the main reasons why many homeowners buy these plants. Being able to keep your business to yourself is something that many mothers, grandparents and more all strive to achieve. By adding a hedge alongside your property line, you can keep out any wandering eyes. It also can serve as a great border to keep any meandering bodies inside your property line. Privacy can be anything from lining your entire yard, or just including a shrub or two around a shed or garden. Strategically placing your new plants is an easy way to accomplish your privacy needs.

Shrubs for Zone 6 can attract butterflies, birds, and other wildlife species

By choosing the right kind of shrub, your yard can attract the perfect selection of wildlife. Birds and butterflies will become frequent visitors to your home. If it is other wildlife that you desire, consider what kind of animals you can attract the different types of flowers, berries, and scents that are produced.

Something to consider when making your purchase is to add more than one type of small border plants. Most problems about shrubs affect only one or two types but leave the remaining kinds alone. By adding a variety to your home, you can reduce the risk of losing something so valuable due to a severe problem.

Shrubs For Zone 6 These plants are shipped bare root. They are ready to plant upon arrival to your home.

Knot Garden

The Knot Garden is a great landscaping centerpiece that adds color to your landscape all year long. The combination of the unique elegant design and Korean Boxwoods, Blue Hydrangea, and Yoshino Cherry trees make this design a classic.

Included Species Quantity
Yoshino Cherry 2
Korean Boxwood 58
Blue Hydrangea 1

Planting Specifications

This landscape design can be expected to grow in the temperature extremes of the zones shown in color in this arborday.org hardiness zone map.

  • Hardiness Zone: 6–8
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Space needed: 30 feet by 15 feet
  • Required topography: Flat to gently sloping

Layout

The Knot Garden begins with a 30’ x 15’ rectangle. Each corner of the rectangle is connected to the opposing corner with a straight line. Each of the 15’ sides of the rectangle has a 7’6” radius. See diagram in plan.

The Knot Garden shape can be roughly formed on the ground with a rope or garden hose. Once the shape is laid out to match the diagram, paint the shape on the ground with marking spray paint. Then install the plant material along the paint lines.

Recommended Use / Design Principal

The Knot Garden is a fantastic centerpiece for any flat to gently sloping location in your yard where it is desired to add year-round brilliance. The Knot Garden adds flowering interest by way of a classic approach.

The Korean Boxwoods form a low evergreen hedge intersecting in the center of the Knot at a Blue Hydrangea.

The Blue Hydrangea will bloom beautiful shades of blue during the summer months.

Two Yoshino Cherries flank either side of the Blue Hydrangea and add to the overall flowering component with clouds of white blooms in the spring.

Add annuals or perennials in the areas between the Korean Boxwoods to extend the bloom time and overall interest of this garden feature.

Peak Time(s)

Spring

Yoshino Cherry: white bloom

Summer
Blue Hydrangea: blue bloom

Modifications

The Knot Garden can be modified to work with existing flowering trees in place of the suggested Yoshino Cherries.

The Knot Garden can be modified to work with an existing flowering shrub or garden centerpiece such as a bird bath in place of the suggested Blue Hydrangea.

The Knot Garden can be modified by utilizing Glossy Abelia in place of the suggested Korean Boxwoods.

Although one of my favorite pastimes in the spring and summer is gardening, there are times that I just want to relax and not worry about the weeds or how tall the grass has grown.

That is why my front yard is completely low-maintenance – unlike the back garden.

The key to low-maintenance landscaping is working with the natural beauty of the land instead of doing a complete demo on the yard, or planting too many plants.

Simplicity is key. Taking the steps to make the job of front yard lanscaping easier on yourself will allow you the time to just sit back and enjoy the garden, free from weeding and planting all summer long.

Tip #1: No-Mow Grass

Yes, you just read that correctly – there is a type of grass that does not require mowing!

It is perfect for gardeners or homeowners who wish they could avoid the hassle of mowing the grass every few days throughout the summer months.

These are normally blends of low-growing fescue, but some brands will also add various clovers. If you are the type that can’t stand a mixed variety of grasses, then you might want to check on the fine print so you’ll know exactly what’s in the cocktail of seed mix that you purchase.

Fescue grass remains short and reduces lawn maintenance.

Personally, I don’t mind the clover since it is a legume, and brings in natural nitrogen via the symbiotic bacteria attached to its roots.

These no-mow mixtures reduce watering, reduce the need for chemicals such as fertilizer and insecticides, and reduce mulching in the fall.

It is an amazing addition to you carefree, low-maintenance landscaping.

Tip #2: Hostas

One of my favorite foliage plants is the simple hosta. It is great to use around the border of most landscape features and continues to multiply each year.

Hostas are great to use as a fill-in for areas that appear to be missing something, or in front of small slow-growing bushes that need an extra layer in front to be more appealing to the eye.

Hostas require no special care throughout the entire summer, just a little watering.

Tip #3: Plant Slow-Growing Bushes and Plants

There are many plants and bushes that you’ll find online or in your local gardening centers that require little to no care throughout the summer.

Boxwood is a slow-growing shrub that’s ideal for for low-maintenance landscaping.

My favorite slow-growing plants are blue spirea and boxwood bushes. Ask your local gardening center about slow-growing plants and bushes that work in your planting zone.

Tip #4: Arrange Container Gardens

Ready-made container gardens can be purchased from most do-it-yourself stores and gardening centers. Or you can select your own pot, and make it your own.

Container gardens are great for packing a lot of punch without much ongoing work.

They are a little more expensive than purchasing your own individual plants to arrange, but require very little attention besides occasional watering throughout the summer.

Simply purchase a few containers in varying sizes, potting soil, and your choice of plants (including vegetables). Place in the garden in an area where they’ll get adequate sun. This is a fantastic idea to add a little curb appeal to the front of the house.

Remember to water these container gardens a few times a week during the hottest days, and that’s all you have to do.

If you do feel like doing a little extra tending (now that you’ve saved so much time on regular mowing!) you may choose to give your containers a little more attention, as needed. If those vibrant blooms begin to fade a little later in the season, check out this post for tips to spruce up your containers.

Tip #5: Use Slow-Release Garden Food

Depending on what you choose to plant in your low-maintenance landscaped garden, try to place the perfect slow-release garden food for each plant in the ground or in each container.

Slow-release plant food will supply the necessary nutrients for the entire summer to the plant, bush, or tree and no other maintenance will be required besides watering.

Tip #6: Arrange Stone or Blocks for Landscaping Borders

By either using special landscaping stones, landscaping block, or the odd-shaped rocks you have found when digging holes or scavenging in the woods, landscaping can be created easily.

Stacked rock walls work well to contain overflow and reduce maintenance.

If you are using landscaping stones or blocks, be sure to sketch out the area with a line of spray paint on the ground before arranging your borders.

This will save time in the long run, and your borders or landscaping levels will be straighter.

Using this sort of arrangement to create borders or varying garden levels will create permanent garden plots for slow-growing plants.

In addition, if you choose to use regular grass, then this sort of landscaping will reduce the amount of lawn that you have to mow. In return, this also reduces the amount of watering you will have to do, and chemicals needed to maintain a lawn.

Tip #7: Make Small Rock Gardens

The perfect example of low-maintenance landscaping comes from Japanese temples and shrines – the rock garden.

This landscaping concept has been around for hundreds of years, and requires little to no care throughout the summer.

Simply place coarse, dry sand or very small pebbles, or a mixture of the two over the top of the section you have set aside for the rock garden.

Arrange visually interesting rocks in various sizes on top of the dry sand, and rake to create designs if you like. That’s all you have to do, for the entire summer.

Tip #8: Eliminate the Use of Garden Fabric and Plastic

My husband and I made this mistake during our first and second years of owning our first garden.

We purchased that classic professional-grade gardening fabric (the black material that comes in rolls) and placed it all around the garden plots to reduce the amount of weeds we would have to pull throughout the summer.

It was no easy feat to place it correctly, measuring and staking it so that no gaps appeared in the material.

Unfortunately for us, we found that after one year, weeds will get under the material or grow in the mulch topping, and the roots from the stronger plants will punch right through the fabric.

A thick layer of mulch beats a thin layer plus landscaping fabric or plastic – the fabric doesn’t really protect against strong weeds and just disintegrates. Mulch can easily be renewed when required.

With material in place, it is much harder to remove the weeds that will eventually overtake the barrier.

And after three or four years, the fabric starts to completely disintegrate.

I suggest placing 3 inches of mulch down over the garden plots that you would like to avoid weeding year-round. Then, every two to three years, remove the mulch and replace it with a fresh layer. You will still need to occasionally pull some weeds, but it’s definitely worth not having to deal with the fabric.

Small rocks also work instead of mulch.

Tip #9: Install Water Irrigation Systems

For years, I had the impression that water irrigation systems were very pricey and took tons of time to install.

My grandfather, the expert gardener, showed me this is not actually the case.

He took small PVC piping that is available online or at any do-it-yourself home and garden center, and punched small holes throughout the length of the pipe.

Then he hooked it up to a regular garden hose with a few attachments and couplers, and we were off to the races.

It took a little time figuring out the correct location of where to place the piping. However, it was amazing to see how inexpensive it was to make our own water irrigation system.

And it really reduces the amount of time that you have to spend watering the entire garden.

Simply turn on the outdoor faucet – or better yet, install a timer on the spigot to fully automate your watering system – and you’re left with nothing to worry about!

Tip #10: Plant Wildflower Gardens

If you have a section of your yard that has been bordered with landscape rocks, then it is wise to plant a wildflower garden. This will add no additional gardening work, for the entire year.

Wildflower seeds can be purchased in bulk by the pint or quart. Simply sprinkle them on the ground, and give them one or two good soakings. After seedlings are established, you shouldn’t need to worry about watering.

The resulting flowers will present wonderful living bouquets full of color for the entire summer and fall.

Seeds take varying times to germinate and reach maturity, but you may start to see the first flowers in just a few weeks.

Each year, annual wildflowers will reseed themselves, resulting in blooms that come back year after year without having to do any additional maintenance. Perennial wildflowers will return as well.

Be sure to look for wildflowers that will regrow or reseed themselves each year. Otherwise, you will need to sow seeds again if you want to have full-colored flowers from spring through fall (and possibly year-round in warmer growing zones).

If you’re a fan of blue, you’ll love this piece on adding a splash of color to the garden with native blue wildflowers.

What’s your favorite low-maintenance landscaping tip? Let us know in the comments!

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