These top tips will show you how to create the perfect low maintenance outdoor oasis.
With summer well and truly in full swing, Aussies across the nation are seeking the solace of comfy outdoor spaces to enjoy the bounty of sunny days at our disposal. And there’s no better green space than the humble backyard.
For new homeowners, this space may be needing a little TLC to transform it into the outdoor oasis worthy of your weekends. Especially if you opted to build instead of buy an existing home. Never fear though, creating a lush backyard is easy enough with these savvy tips. Even better, it’ll be a low maintenance escape that requires minimal effort for maximum reward.
Here are our 5 top tips for a carefree garden this summer:
Get the right grass
If you have kids, large, level swathes of green grass is an inviting scene for weekend adventures outside. But lawn maintenance can be pretty intense if you don’t choose your grass seed wisely.
If the idea of weekly mowing sessions is enough to put you off cultivating a lawn, try Zoysia. This grass grows slower than others and requires less preening. If you’re more concerned with water conservation, Kikuyu is a hardy variety that grows quickly and repairs itself pretty well — all with minimal watering.
If the idea of any kind of lawn maintenance just isn’t your bag, you could always opt for astroturf. This artificial turf only requires the occasional shake to remove dirt and debris. It’s increasingly becoming the grass of choice for smaller yards and outdoor spaces.
Cultivate your compost
With environmental concerns at the forefront of everyone’s minds, homeowners often wonder how they can do their part. It may be a small step, but creating your own compost can help minimise household waste. It also happens to be black gold for your garden!
Home composting kits are readily available at most home and hardware shops, which make it pretty easy to get started. Alternatively, just pick out a discrete spot in your garden to start your pile. The idea is to mix in equal parts ‘green’ waste and ‘brown’ waste.
Green waste is anything moist such as fruit and vegetable scraps, which provide nitrogen. Brown waste is anything dry like wood chips, dead leaves or old newspapers, which provide carbon. Keep your compost moist and turn it every couple of weeks to add oxygen.
After a few weeks you should see your compost breaking down into rich, dark soil. Sprinkle this over your gardens, or churn it into the soil to act as a natural fertilizer. Your plants will love you for it!
Pick the right plants
Speaking of plants — when it comes to creating a low maintenance garden, you want to consider your selections wisely. While you may be tempted by big, colourful blossoms, be mindful that some are quite particular about how they’re cared for.
A good place to start is to turn your attention to natives. Native plants naturally grow in the area where you live. This means they’re used to the conditions, including everything from soil types and rain (or lack thereof). They will be hardier than other choices and will require less attention to thrive.
Another key rule is to limit your varieties. Choose one or two of the same type of plant (the bigger, the better) and place them throughout your yard. Not only will this assure a uniform look, it means less effort in maintaining them. You’ll only have to remember best practice care for a couple of types instead of five, six, seven or more!
Much ado about mulch
Now, let’s talk about mulch. You probably haven’t put much thought into what you put over your soil, but mulch is the ultimate tool for creating a carefree yard.
This humble mixture helps to retain soil moisture, balance temperature shifts, reduce weed growth and improve the health of your soil. Depending on your choice of mulch, it can also add visual appeal to your gardens.
You can go fully organic and use things like compost (see above), grass clippings, shreaded leaves or straw. Just keep in mind organic mulches decompose over time and will have to be replaced. That being said, with each layer you add, it will improve the health of your soil.
If you’re looking for something that lasts a little longer, popular choices include:
- stone or gravel
- landscaping fabric.
Focus on your focal point
Finally, you should think about creating a focal point in your backyard. This can be used as a space for your family and friends to gather for relaxing weekend get togethers. It also creates a point in your yard that will draw the eye, allowing the rest of the yard to grow wild and carefree … to a certain extent. You’ll still need to carry out basic maintenance.
Some popular focal point options include:
- deck or seating area
- built-in firepit
- large boulders
- an ornament or sculpture
- fountain or water feature.
It’s best to choose something you know you and your family will appreciate to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.