How to Garden if you hate Gardening

sayguhApril 4, 2012

I'm 26, hate gardening, bought a house with a yard & flower beds in the front that I want to look nice. You see my problem.

I'm trying to make a gardening plan that requires the least amount of maintenance. I don't mind investing time and money right now, but I don't want to do much work going forward.

Plan:

- Dig up existing bushes & weeds, they are ugly.

- Add Humus, or mulch, or something and rototiller it into the soil.

- Add weed block tarp.

- Plant hardy plants like hostas or....(looking for other options)

- Put some sort of red rock (seminole chips?) on top of the tarp to finish it off.

- Grab a beer and relax knowing my gardening days are over!

Obviously things aren't that easy and I'm making some huge beginner mistakes and that is why I came here :-)

I know a lot of people are going to say that there is no easy way out and I accept that....but, please give me some real advice about how to obtain the easiest way out. (short of hiring a gardener)

Thanks for any advice or input.

~ Sayguh

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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Whatever you do will probably end up looking like what you already have, so don't take them out. Water, fertilize, and trim.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 10:34PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Simple answer in the east - lawn. Put in grass, and write a check to the mow and blow guys once a month. It doesn't get any easier than that. If you don't want to write that check, then get a decent lawnmower and jockey it around once a week.

Pretty much anything else is going to take more time and knowledge. Specifically, it's less brain work to push that lawnmower than hand pull weeds.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:31PM
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yardvaark

In "gardening" there are both easy and difficult ways to accomplish the same goals. Using the difficult ways will make it a thoroughly un-enjoyable endeavor. Maybe we can give you some assistance in getting through this in most painless way. It sounds like you want a landscape that is attractive with the least maintenance built in... not a new hobby. Because a landscape is not just about what plants you use, but where they go, it will be useful for you to post a picture that shows the area you're wanting to work on. It shouldn't be a close up, but a picture(s) that shows the context. To imbed a picture into your message, first upload it to a photo-hosting site. Use the "share" function at the site to find the picture's html code. Then, copy that code and paste it into your message here.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 11:41PM
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aloha2009

Do yourself a favor and do not use weed block tarp. Yes it prevents weeds from growing up through the fabric BUT and that's as big of a BUT as I can possibly say, it doesn't prevent weeds from forming on the top and binding/weaving their roots into the fabric making it IMPOSSIBLE to pull out. You won't have any weeds for a few short years but after a little bit of dirt (and I mean a little bit) starts settling atop, the weeds will be there. Then out come the dreaded chemicals, and the battle ensues. If that isn't troublesome enough, the edges of the fabric tend to make it through the mulch and then you get the "pleasure" of fabric sticking up all over the place. Fabric sounds good but is a waste of time and money. OK my rant is over.

Assuming you heed my advice about no fabric (or even if you don't), you can't expect your hostas to expand in size well if it's covered in rocks. I thick layer of bark/mulch would inhibit (not eliminate) the weeds. The weeds you do get would be easily pulled out when it's not well rooted in soil.

Though I love to garden, I want things to be low maintenance since I have sooooo much. Even if I'm away for a few weeks, I want my garden to continue looking nice in my absence. When I get back I might have to weed but nothing overwhelming.

I'm with Yardvaark in that I too would like to see exactly what you have now and where we could help you.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:10AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Just curious to know why you hate gardening; were you forced to help out in the garden by your parents, don't like the hot and sweaty or bugs issues, or just don't have any experience gardening and so are mystified/terrified of making mistakes?

Gardening really can be fun and rewarding, and has proven mental health benefits as stress relief and a physical interaction with nature.

Unfortunately all gardens grow, will require some maintenance to prune, weed and nurture. No getting around it, but you can design a garden that is lower maintenance. Post some pictures of your existing situation, which direction the front yard faces, and the plants already there if you know what they are. And FYI, weed fabric isn't a cure-all for no weeds...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 12:44AM
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whitecap2

There's a vast gulf between simple and simplistic.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:17AM
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sayguh

I'm surprised to have such a quick response! I'll try and post pictures tomorrow of my front landscape, thanks for all the advice so far!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 4:23PM
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carolkcmo_5(5)

Preen has saved me a lot of work.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:49AM
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sayguh

Here's an album I made with a few photos from the front and side yard.

http://imgur.com/a/hm0uy#0

I'll be sharing all the feedback with the women of the house later today! Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 3:54PM
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yardvaark

Sayguy, Your photos are lacking the one you need. They are too close up. You need one that shows the overall yard from the street. Not the left and right sides of the house in separate pictures. Your central picture does not show what's at the sides of the house. The picture should include the parking area to show if it's at the street, or is a pad on your property. Please embed the photo directly in your message so it's easiest to view. (Grab the html code for the picture off of the site that hosts it. Then paste that code into your message.)

Example:

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 5:40PM
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sayguh

Ah, okay, i'll grab another photo or two tomorrow with that in mind. One other thing to keep in mind, the bushes on the left of my house will be torn out soon since I need a sewer pipe replaced.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:42PM
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yardvaark

Are you planning on any exterior changes to the house? Just asking, not suggesting. Don't want to get 50 posts into the conversation to find out you plan to triple the size of the stoop. Widening the walk? The walk looks especially narrow as it approaches the parking.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:29PM
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designoline6(Z6)

Too close up,don't understand overall.these idea pics maybe not right.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:41PM
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designoline6(Z6)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:00PM
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designoline6(Z6)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 11:16PM
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sayguh

Here are those other pictures you guys wanted. I hope it helps.

http://imgur.com/a/SC9KT

Yardvaark - I'm not planning on doing too much to the yard right now. Not too much money to spend yet. Just looking to do the beds in front of the house. The walk way will stay the same for now. Eventually we'll paint the house but nothing else will change for a few years at least.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 9:41AM
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duluthinbloomz4

How are you folks able to access pictures that aren't imbedded in the thread?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 10:25AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

Copy the link and paste into your browser.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 11:35AM
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yardvaark

Sayguy, I wouldn't consider this any more than inspirational at this point as I don't know enough about your intentions or the site. Also, when you add pictures please take one from each side looking across to the other side that shows across the slope near the house better.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 11:52AM
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sayguh

Those are some really cool ideas but I'm really just looking for ideas for the flower beds in front where the bushes are. I'm looking for simple ideas that look good and require very little maintenance.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 1:37PM
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duluthinbloomz4

If it were mine and I hated ongoing big maintenance - I'd spend a few bucks (prices vary) on a good electric hedge trimmer and jip down what I had to a tidy line underneath the window. Once a year when they put out new growth would probably be sufficient - a little extra time would have to be invested in raking up the shearings.

Dig out any flowers and replant them in the back yard private spaces (flowers are nice but tend to be the element involving more work to look good) cut a line between the grass and shrubs and be done with it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 1:59PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

And after shearing the shrubs, pull all the weeds and put down a thick layer of mulch. The whole thing should take less than an afternoon, and have to be done about once a year.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:43PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Oh, the gods are cruel! Your yard is a gardener's dream in terms of the quality of the space and the siting of the house, and you don't want to do anything with it :-) Oh well.

The question is not just how much maintenance you want to do, but what kind. The space will need some maintenance. If you pave it all, you'll need to sweep it. If you revert completely to grass, you'll need to mow it. Any flower beds need weeding at least and probably some "tending" as well; any shrubs need trimming and maybe leaf collection.

Also, what looks "nice" to you? You have three groups of bushes; do any of them qualify according to your definition? You might decide "yes" for the ones currently in flower, but the moustache on the left side doesn't look like a flowering shrub, so you might decide "no" for that one unless you like the privacy on the porch. The ones up the side might be nice, but do you see them enough to care?

Lowest cost and work both up front and going forward is to make the whole thing lawn - rip out those shrubs and sod over the beds. Your house is fabulous on its own; and that shrubbery is no enhancement even if it needed any. With all lawn you need three tools: mower, edging shears, and a rake. You have to mow a certain number of times per year. If you want to make it slightly prettier, plant clumps of early spring bulbs like crocus, snowdrops, etc throughout - they will come up in spring before you need to mow, and then you mow down the old foliage with the first cut of the grass and they're done for the year. (There seems to be something blue in your lawn already - weed or bulbs?)

If you want to keep some shrubs, you have a choice between cutting these ones back and ripping them out and putting in new ones. These old ones will require a fair bit of clipping because with big root masses they can put out a lot of annual growth. So you'll need loppers and clippers. If you put in new ones, you will leave more exposed ground with less root competition, and you will have more weeding to do - so you need some weeding tools - a trowel and a bucket oughta do it.

Weeds are probably going to get you one way or another, mind you, so put a trowel on the list. Mulch will help with this, a lot. But: cannot emphasize enough: do not bother with the weed cloth. Weed seeds come from the air and settle on top... and are no easier to pull because their nasty thread-like roots go right down through the fabric.

Karin L

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 8:07PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

i'm with karini! rip out those shrubs and let the whole front be lawn. your house is a perfect mondrian- let it stand on it's own. i love it. min

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 9:43PM
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yardvaark

"Plan: Dig up existing bushes & weeds, they are ugly" ..."One other thing to keep in mind, the bushes on the left of my house will be torn out soon." ... but I'm really just looking for ideas for the flower beds in front where the bushes are.

Maybe you should describe literally and explicitly exactly where and what. Does the left side mean side of house or left side of house front? Be explicit and detailed about all the places.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 7:53AM
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oceandweller(8B)

I am with mad gallica, get a good mowing company so that takes a good portion of your time from not having to mow.

Then I would strongly consider adding edging to beds, brick, stone, pavers, monkey grass "liriope", etc. to all the edges and create raised beds with 6+ inches of pine straw added each fall. That will cut down on the weeds by 1000% and will create a buffer for winter and for summer temps to plant roots/bases in virginia. Pine straw is also readily available. I always see my neighbors weeding after applying their mulch in the spring, in the fall, and in the spring and spending the same $ on annuals and laugh. My yard is like 20 minutes of maintenance a week "including cutting and edging"

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 1:57PM
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oceandweller(8B)

Those ideas are beautiful, yet to me seem pretty unrealistic. That cherry in the front looks really pretty though but look at the height of the raised bed, its pretty insane. I think you should keep it simple and plant in groupings if you choose perineals.

Some things I would consider for anywhere in Virgina
Dogwoods
yellow forsynthia
lillies
american redbud or purple redbud
and of course a holly tree for evergreen color

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 2:00PM
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