Ekaterina Zhukova
Dendrologist, ęWild grassesĽ

Ekaterina is involved in the selection of plants for the projects, leads planting and care processes in the gardens. For the last 7 years she has been collecting and breeding different kind of grasses. Currently develops grasses nursery.


The idea of creating a garden with minimal care beckons the gardeners. And this concept is different for diverse groups of people: professional assume that simple, but regular maintenance would be required for the garden; amateur believe that the garden almost do not need care. There are a lot of articles on how to create such a garden. All of them are based on how to make the garden as close as possible to natural and how to give it at the mercy of nature.

I propose another approach to your attention that is based on years of experience of creating private gardens in the climate of middle band with the following maintenance. The garden is often created without considerations for the care and maintenance resources, whether the owner will be able to maintain the garden exactly as the author intended the garden. The designer wants to return to the designed garden to make sure that the idea works, the customer is still satisfied and to make the long-awaited photos for the portfolio.

Based on our experience we go further and further from the intricate detail every year, simplify our projects, constantly look into making garden care easier. Customers are taking care for their gardens themselves more often or direct unprofessional workers. Therefore, it is important to create such garden to simplify Customerís work.

Let me try to formulate the accumulated experience in order to minimize the amount of complex professional works in the garden:

1. Reduce the number of plants in the assortment statement. Less denominations - it is easier to remember the work with different plants.

2. Planting with simple pruning forms (hedges, balls, cubes) are all good architectural element and easy forms to maintain. Any unskilled specialist will be able to learn how to shape simple forms. If you do not want to complicate the gardenerís life, don't plan the hedges higher than 1.5 metre. Additional equipment and time will be required for their maintenance.

3. It is better to select relatively slow-growing plants (such as cotoneaster, smaller spireas, thujas), rather than fast-growing ones (such as willows, dogwoods).

4. While laying the flower beds use the structure of shrubs groups with a variety of forms, leaves color and flowering. Shrubs maintain forms for the flower beds in the leafless period and grow longer in one place.

5. Trees with multi-trunks forms let to create a miniature forest in the private garden with lower cost. Plus multi-trunks forms are not that high as the single-trunks ones.

6. In case there are trees originally on the plot, try to save them and form their shapes. If the plot is situated on a slope, do not rush to remove the trees, since they keep the slope and protect the plot from wind (and new plantings too). In case Customer is not satisfied with them for some reason, it is better to remove them later when the new trees and shrubs will get stronger and grow up.

7. Perennials that grow in one place for a long time (7-10 years) and do not require frequent dividing should be use to set up flower beds. And the easier care for them (cut in spring once, nourish and all) it is the better. Grasses are ideal in this scenario. It is understandable that it is difficult to make a whole flower beds from such simple perennials, but their number should prevail in the planting.

8. Do not place hedges of prickly shrubs in the flower beds, since it will be hard to care, cropped prickly branches will be everywhere. Itís better to shape stand-alone hedges from such species, you can easily assemble the branches with raker.

9. Plan enough spare space for shaping works in order to avoid hedge care, while standing in thorny roses.

10. Design such flower beds, so it can be enough to mow down using lawn mower or trimmer (lawn mower without a bag for grass collection is even easier) in spring. Itís better to leave culms in a flower bed (it is mulch and fertilizer). Flower beds are growing quite rapidly and the leaves will hide all the crushed stalks.

11. Mulch is mandatory. Do not leave bare soil, cover the soil with bark, mowed down lawn, chopped stalks and other bulk materials. Soil without the mulch is the source for moisture loss, erosion, compaction and weeds.

12. Itís more efficient to plant using large groups of similar plants. Such strategy facilitate similar care methods. Itís easier to cut the hedge of cotoneaster or wide zone of spireas using trimmer, rather than cutting each bush separately. Big planted groups are easier for the care by amateur specialists, since the weeds are more visible against the background of uniform planting. If the planting groups are complicated by variety of the plants, it is difficult for non-professional to understand, if there are weeds or it have been intended by design.

13. If the form of the plants allow us to arrange high density planting, itís better to plant denser in order to accelerate accretion and to reduce time for weeding.

14. Lawn. Yes, the lawn care takes time for mow downs, but it is clear for a non-qualified worker how to do it. Simple list of the care items, such as brushing, fertilizing, weeding and cutting is usually enough. There is nothing complicated. But we must constantly bear in mind that the lawns have their special functions in the garden. Do not try to locate the lawn all over available spaces: along the fence behind bushes, under the trees, etc.

15. The lawn should have a simple form that you can mow using simple scheme, without lifting fallen plants from flower beds, not cutting edges and around the bushes with trimmer additionally. No plants in the lawn, maximum one tree, planted keeping in mind the passage of the mower (with its free space).

16. An edge between the flower bed and the lawn is obligatory, so the lawn mower can pass without damaging the plants. Ideally that should be a border made from stone or wood.

17. Lamps must not be placed in the lawn Ė this is making mowing of the lawn complicated. Place them either in the plantings or on the hard surfaces.

18. Nowadays robots-lawn mowers are available, your customer can buy it anytime. Therefore, you must provide the layout of lawn and place for charging the robot so that the robot can start the work by itself without human intervention and maintain the lawn without additional control. With well planned grass lawn, automatic irrigation and such a robot, you can forget about regular maintenance. You will only need to do weeding and fertilizing.

19. There should be no narrow strips of the lawn between plants and hard surfaces. It is uncomfortable to mow these 10-50 cm along the flower bed. Make wider planting, add one or two more plants in rows.

20. In case there is an idea for the "lawn", but you don't want to add to an existing lawn volume (for example, behind a fence) or the place is inconvenient for mowing (slope), in such case carpet-planting scheme of short plants will be helpful.

21. In front of the house (if the front part is insignificant) it is better to avoid allocating the lawn. Itís uncomfortable to carry mower from the back yard for the mowing. A lawn in the parterre should be neat and best maintained, since this is the most visible part of the garden. Therefore it is better to pave the front part of the plot (parking area, easy space for strollers and wearing high hills) and fill the space with the most resistant forms with long-lasting decorative effect.

22. While designing you should remember that there are never enough of the solid surfaces. For each square meter of planting there is much more care, compared to the solid surfaces (paving, decking, gravel).

23. Do not try to save on the width of the garden roads. Plants grow and drop to the surface of the roads, itís becoming uncomfortable to go together. For me, everything that is narrower than two meters is not a road but just a technical footpath. If you want to save on the materials, itís better to use solid expensive material in the front part of the house and make the back garden roads with sift cheaper materials. Such roads are most frequent in kaleyards. All vegetables grow. It is becoming uncomfortable to move between garden beds. Leave at least 1 meter space - it is convenient for care, ventilation and a wheelbarrow pass, even in the harvest season.

24. In certain areas of the plot, where itís inconvenient to deal with maintenance (narrow passage between the house and fence, parking, technical space) it is better to plant dense homogeneous groups of shrubs with a thick layer of mulch, including gravel.

25. The easiest way to care about paved roads is to clean them with washer under pressure (removing moss and weeds). It is a quick and effective process, no need do use chemicals - just all washed away in soil.

26. Hide existing utilities, such as trapdoors of the septic tank, wells and other technical objects in flower beds. They are less visible there than in the lawn and do not require special mowing.

27. Keep an eye for novelties in the nurseries. New varieties are always there: more sustainable, neat, maximum decorative. Share your thoughts with nurseries, explain your design suggestions - it is important for them to grow something that will be in demand.

28. Do not allocate prickly plants on another side of the fence. Garbage will always fly from the road and itís very uncomfortable to clean-up among thorns.

29. It is important to treat the plants after planting from diseases and pests (better right on the day of the planting).
Following these simple techniques, you will noticeably reduce hassles for the customer and yourself. Good luck in your projects.



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